laduma ngxokolo: xhosa influenced knitwear
laduma ngxokolo: xhosa influenced knitwear laduma ngxokolo: xhosa influenced knitwear
mar 19, 2011

laduma ngxokolo: xhosa influenced knitwear

laduma ngxokolo: xhosa influenced knitwear xhosa-inspired knitwear for amakrwala by laduma ngxokolo photo by astrid arndt with stylist maran coates

each year, the design indaba conference in capetown invites an international selection of recent design graduates to present their work in the form of pecha kucha. among this year’s delegates, was homegrown south african laduma ngxokolo who shared his fashion collection which interprets xhosa beadwork aesthetics into a range of men’s knitwear for amakrwala.

traditional xhosa beadwork

within south africa’s eastern cape xhosa communities, hundreds of boys aged between eighteen and twenty-three attend xhosa circumcision schools for a manhood initiation ritual. after these xhosa initiates return home from the school, they are guided through a six-month protocol. during this period, xhosa initiates are traditionally called amakrwala. as part of this process, amakrwalas’s old clothes are given away as a sign of the end of their boyhood, at which time their parents are obliged to buy them a range of new clothing, which is meant to include high quality men’s knitwear. at current, the amakrwala obtain high quality men’s knitwear from brands like pringle and lyle & scott.

beadwork details which strongly influenced ngxokolo’s knitwear designs

having experienced the xhosa initian ritual himself, ngxokolo felt that there were no knitwear brands that bore any aesthetic resemblance to xhosa traditions, and so he decided to develop a range of knit garments specifically for amakrwala, sourcing locally for mohair and merino wool.

graphic layout of the designs and patterns

south africa produces more than 75 percent of the world’s mohair, but due to a lack of sufficient textile industries in which to convert mohair into end products, a majority of the fibres are exported. ngxokolo wanted to utilize mohair in his knitwear as a means of indirectly contributing to the market share of local, particularly that of the small black community farmers.

ngxokolo’s line of knitwear photo by astrid arndt with stylist maran coates

xhosa beadwork is one of the most popular decoration practices in the culture, and this became the basis of ngxokolo’s designs. the geometrically structured beadwork designs suit knitting motifs quite well. popular xhosa beadwork motifs such as the arrow, axe, diamond and zig-zag are interpreted into his knitwear collection. color also plays a key role in xhosa culture, and ngxokolo carefully considered a palette that is truly representative of traditional colors. to do so, he chose light, medium and dark colors recognizable as authentic xhosa hues achieving them through the use of pantone color chips so that he could interpret the colors of the beadwork  to get yarns dyed locally according to palette specifications. the result is a line of sweaters in which the motifs and colors depicted, resemble the traditional style of xhosa people wearing their beadwork.

image © of design indaba

  • supernice!

    cj says:
  • Beautiful. Would it be inappropriate to wonder if Ngxokolo is going to market this line to a Western audience?

    zenobiamae says:
  • where can we get em?

    bryanff says:
  • Thanks Cj, Zinobiamea and Bryanff. The knitwear collection hasn’t been officially launched yet. It will either be available online or in selected stores. Please send me an email on: [email protected] to able to get an update when the collection is ready for sale.
    I hope this answers your question Zenobiamae.

    Laduma Ngxokolo
    Mobile: +27 78 3662 111

    Laduma Ngxokolo says:
  • So beautiful AND full of rich cultural connection. Bravo, Laduma!

    Lindsay Kinkade says:
  • Eita daar bro

    Where can i get them they are nice.

    once a friend of mine by the Name of Thabisa Oliphant on the foto told me but we lost contacts


    Melikhaya Mtsele says:

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