Fashion lovers from across Cape Town lined the lobby of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa last Thursday, which in the early evening was buzzing with anticipation for the Maxhosa Africa SS23/24 show,
The theme of the show, titled A.S.T.O (African Space Travel Organisation), embodies the innovative spirit of pushing the boundaries of African luxury, drawing parallels to exploring the parts of the universe unfamiliar to us. “We’ve taken a stance to take the road less travelled by taking what they call ‘African luxury’ and going to different spaces where it is not expected,” says the brand’s creative director Laduma Ngxokolo. Founded by Laduma in the early 2010’s, the intention was to explore knitwear design solutions that would be suitable for amakrwala (Xhosa initiates). According to the website, as a person who has undergone the process, Laduma felt that he had to develop premium knitwear that celebrates traditional Xhosa aesthetics. The brand has since gained international recognition for its modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collections. Laduma sources locally produced fibres as far as possible, and collections are designed and knitted in Johannesburg.
Moments before the show began last Thursday, guttural drumming erupted from the speakers, and the crowd went silent. As the beat quickened, models descended to the basement floor in the museum’s glass elevator, commencing a brilliantly innovative show.
Notorious for its original prints, the brand’s latest collection featured countless motifs from patchwork fish scales and flowers to pops of neon and galactic-inspired prints — all the while maintaining a bold playfulness without being overwhelming.
The lineup included 80 looks featuring the signature house styles of patterned pastels, panelled knits and patchwork design, as well as new stylistic elements for the brand, such as cutouts, printed T-shirts and a swimwear debut.
Each piece was accompanied by equally inspiring and bold hair and makeup looks, with models wearing neon hair extensions, space-inspired contour, and bright wigs. Regarding his fearlessness about presenting loud looks in the luxury space, Laduma says, “There is no such thing as quiet luxury – you’re wearing it for you; you are loud for yourself.”
Laduma tactfully delivered many wearable pieces including swimwear, streetwear, and evening wear. To Maxhosa Africa, catering to its community of consumers is still its priority. “Maxhosa is, at its core, a lifestyle brand. We’ve grown customers by producing things people can wear every day,” Laduma adds.
While Maxhosa Africa was part of the inaugural Confections x Collections 2022 curated by Twyg and hosted by the Mount Nelson hotel, this is the brand’s first standalone show in Cape Town. The event was a massive success, with nearly 300 guests in attendance, the show was undeniably testament to Laduma’s creative vision, mastery of talent and Maxhosa Africa’s commercial appeal.
For Laduma, pushing boundaries is not just in the styling, but also in the craft. “We specialise in the knitting space,” he says. “Unlike weaving, we’re able to change the shape of our fabrics”. This speciality is reflected in this most recent collection, with zigzag knitted pleats and triangle patterns featuring across the show’s knitwear.
This showcase from Maxhosa Africa is exemplary of the brand’s continuous efforts to push boundaries and challenge the status quo of luxury fashion.
- Images by Ramiie G for MaXhosa Africa