MaXhosa creates fashion buzz

A South African knitwear brand has caused a sensation at New York Fashion Week. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - It's not every day that an African fashion designer receives a standing ovation at New York Fashion Week.

But South Africa's Laduma Ngxokolo, showcasing there for the first time, managed that with his latest collection from his MaXhosa brand.

Under the theme "We are Kings and Queens," he stayed true to his signature style of geometric shapes.

And said he wanted his designs to reflect his heritage while showing people what African luxury is.

“For a long time, the general public has never felt like African products or African aesthetic is credible enough to live in the everyday world, where it's consumed by people that are looking for ready to wear products. We are trying to offer an alternative to people who have acquire taste, high standards, but that we are looking for something different,” said Ngxokolo.

Started in 2010, the knitwear brand "MaXhosa by Laduma" was inspired by the clothing worn by young Xhosa men coming back from a traditional initiation ceremony.

Ngxokolo's style has won him fans across the world, including superstar Beyonce.

READ: Beyonce gives shout-out to SA designer

And his designs were featured in the blockbuster movie Black Panther.

But the South African designer says it hasn't always been easy to source the materials he uses --which in turn, drives up prices.

“Over the past seven years, we have been struggling to control our value chain, most specifically in the production side of our products. So basically we buy raw material as it is, and we get suppliers to dye it in the colors that we want, and on the technical specs that we want. So we get knitting mills to knit them for us but unfortunately, knitting mills in South Africa and a lot of weaving mills have been disappearing gradually over the past 20 years.”

He's since set up a factory in downtown Johannesburg, employing around 30 people.

It's given him better control of the production chain.

Ngxokolo now has his sights set on increasing his reach locally and globally.