At What Design Can Do in Amsterdam (8 & 9 May 2014), there promises to be a vehemently fashionable crowd in attendance. British fashion icon Sir Paul Smith was announced last week as a guest speaker, and joining him will be other designers from the UK, as well as Mexico, Niger, South Africa, Sweden and the Netherlands. Here we introduce the show-stopping knitwear designs of Laduma Ngxokolo.
This is one designer who is not scared of bright colours and who is drawn to vibrant patterns, evident in his menswear fashion collections to date. He interweaves tradition and culture into his contemporary knitwear, building on the heritage and customs of the Xhosa people of southeastern South Africa.
With yarns that are hand-sourced and dyed in bright hues, Ngxokolo’s latest collection is called ‘My Heritage, My Inheritance’. It is dedicated to his late mother who instilled in him the appreciation of traditional Xhosa culture, and who was also the person to teach him how to operate a knitting machine.
Ngxokolo’s knitwear designs are a detailed expression of his identity. His flair for art and design, and in particular his love of pattern, propelled him to gain a bursary to study textile design at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. His first collection ‘MaXhosa by Laduma’ won local and international awards, including the SDC Colour Design Award 2010. He then went on to form part of the DesignIndaba’s Emerging Creatives programme in 2011.
Since presenting his first designs, Ngxokolo has exhibited in London, Paris, New York and Milan. He has also extended his range with interior accessories. Ngxokolo prioritises the use of colour in his designs, as this is an important part of Xhosa visual culture. He also utilises local materials with longevity so that the garments can be preserved for future generations.