By Amanda Matshaka


MaXhosa by Laduma is an award-winning knitwear brand raved about by many. The brand enjoys world-wide exposure. Behind this successful brand is a story of humble beginnings.


Its founder, Laduma Ngxokolo is one of Africa’s finest knitwear designers. Born in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, Laduma’s knitwear brand MaXhosa by Laduma is inspired by one of South Africa’s ethnic groups, amaXhosa. Born in 1986 in Port Elizabeth, Laduma graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and moved to Cape Town where he started developing his knitwear brand. In 2014 Laduma moved to London to further his studies as well as grow his brand.

Laduma’s sister Tina says he made his first jersey when he was 18 years old and had just returned from initiation. This meant that he had to have a collection of new clothes including jerseys as part of the clothes worn by Amakrwala (Xhosa initiates). His love for quality clothes made him desire jerseys of brands that were quite expensive. By this time their mother had passed on.

“I remember Laduma saying that Tina, you either buy me the high premium brand jerseys or I make my own”. He then made his first Mohair jersey. Tina recalls other young men asking Laduma where he had bought the jersey and thinking that his jersey making skill would lead him somewhere one day but never imagined that it would grow to the extent that it has.

Laduma learnt to knit from his late mother who would encourage him to dream big and go for what he wants in life. It is this kind of encouragement that made him defy the odds and go for his dreams. Knitting mohair jerseys was costly and he had no resources but persisted in spite of the situation, using his mother’s old machine.

An invitation to participate in an international fashion competition in London made Laduma aware that he had something people wanted. He won the competition, representing Africa. The journey came with its challenges. Establishing a quality brand was a lengthy process that was costly. “Conceptualising the process was quick but commercialising it into a lucrative brand was very lengthy”, he says.

Laduma has enjoyed support at home, from the African continent at large and abroad. “The interest has been shown in Amsterdam, New York, Norway, New Zealand and Germany, the overseas market is slowly growing. I’ve also had people from Kenya and Nigeria showing interest.


 He boasts a number of international awards including the Africa Fashion International Award, winning the best emerging designer for 2015 and Vogue Italia Scouting award.

Laduma has been showcasing internationally and is associated with Ethical Fashion Initiative - EFI which connects emerging designers from Africa to the International market and connects international brands to several African countries. Head of EFI, Simone Cipriani says Laduma’s designs are “extremely contemporary and extremely international”.

 “I have to confess that when I saw Laduma’s designs I never thought that he’s from Africa. His designs have been well received internationally. During a fashion show we organised in Florence, Italy, Laduma’s brand was the most requested by the audience and most asked about by the media’, Cipriani says.

The brand is popular among celebrities. South Africa’s popular TV presenter and style icon Siyabonga Ngwekazi says when he saw Laduma’s designs he knew he wanted his collection. “I was happy when others also took good liking to his clothing”, says Ngwekazi.

Laduma’s story of success is proof that it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.



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