“It’s rare to find collections designed by Black in commercial spaces. This is a problem that should be rectified because it is what sustains our businesses, ”South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo said of Zoom Before its Maxhosa digital presentation for men and women in spring 2021, reflecting on how whose movement for racial equality must be put into action in fashion.
He should know. Now in its 10th year of operation, Maxhosa has been called “the Missoni of Africa” but is expected to be known as “the Maxhosa of the world” with its recognizable and cheerful Xhosa-inspired aesthetic in knit, patterns and beads on men, women and now home accessories.
In a nod to turbulent times, the theme of the spring collection is “God’s work is miraculous,” Ngxokolo said. “Happiness has become a luxury… now it’s hard to smile and people need visuals to remind them of that.”
This season, he’s given his collection a sportier, more street edge (inspired, perhaps by Dwyane Wade and other NBA players who rocked the brand), mixing men’s polo shirts and shorts from oversized sportswear with soft suits with vivid diamond stripe patterns, track jackets with pants in a playful, airplane-Jupiter-and-moon escape print, and plenty of her colorful socks, bucket hats and even a face mask. For women, the striped polo shirt was worn cropped over a sexy knit tube skirt, while silk sarong skirts and patterned Ts were adorned with contrasting printed piping and beading.
Rather than retreat during the pandemic, Ngxokolo opened its second store on July 24 alongside Gucci and Louis Vuitton at the V&A Waterfront in Capetown. He added 24 jobs to his business after doubling sales from his online store, which was featured in Directory of Black Owned Businesses by Beyonc and Stylist Zerina Akers. The brand, which has its own production facility in South Africa, also has fans in NBA player Carmelo Anthony (who collaborated with Maxhosa on a capsule collection) and Swizz Beats.
“We had to continue with Plan A because we didn’t have a Plan B,” said the self-funded designer, who has stockists in the US, UK and Paris but would like more, adding that ‘he is also considering going out to investors.
It’s already entered pop culture in South Africa, a recent collaboration with Tastic Rice inspired the handbags for the spring collection. “It’s a local heritage brand, the largest in the country, which works with a designer every year. This year is us, and we thought it would be nice to use their bags of rice as handbags, ”he said.
This is his third appearance at IMG’s New York Fashion Week, which he was initially drawn to due to its diversity. “I’m optimistic for the season ahead,” he said, reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact it has had on online searches for black-owned businesses like his. “The time has come when the media are ready to access and share our content. The resulting opportunities are that people will get to know us and we will have cultural and global influence.
Launch gallery: MaxHosa Africa RTW Spring 2021
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