South-African fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo will take the stage at WDCD14. His star raised instantly with the presentation of his knitwear collection for Xhosa initiates in 2010.

‘My Heritage, My Inheritance’, the title of Laduma Ngxokolo’s third luxury knitwear collection can be taken literally. Ngxokolo’s mother, who raised their children in Port Elisabeth in appreciation of traditional Xhosa culture, taught her son to operate the knitting machine.

An important feature of Xhosa culture is the initiation of boys into manhood. As part of the ritual the initiates, traditionally called amakrwala, have to dress up in new, dignified formal clothing for six months after initiation. Dissatisfied with the rather tedious sweaters available, Ngxokolo decided to design more apt clothing.

‘As a person who has undergone that process, I felt that I had to develop knitwear that genuinely depicts my cultural aesthetics,’ he says. For original patterns, symbols and colours Ngxokolo turned to traditional Xhosa beadwork craft. ‘My vision was to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would be suitable for amakrwala.’

Apart from the patterns, Ngxokolo decided to use locally produced mohair as well, in support of small community farmers. His first ‘MaXhosa by Laduma’ collection of 2010 was awarded both locally and internationally. Ngxokolo choose the title of the third collection, ‘My Heritage, My Inheritance’, in honour of his mother and the Xhosa heritage she taught him. This collection was shown in 2013 at Labo Ethnik Fashion Week in Paris.

Already in high school Ngxokolo displayed a flair for art and design. This earned him bursaries to study textile design and technology (BTech) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Since he presented his first designs, Ngxokolo exhibited in London, Paris, New York and Milan. He extended his range with interior accessories and plans to make women’s wear too.

‘I preserved my culture for the next generation,’ he concludes with satisfaction.

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