MaXhosa Africa's Laduma Ngxokolo on what it takes to build a fashion brand | Truelove – News24

Sunday, 12 June
10 Apr

Design has been my passion since I was 16 years old. I did textile design and art in high school. After matric, I studied a BA in textile design and technology at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. During my final year I focused on knitting, a hobby I was taught by my late mom.
Winning the Vogue Scouting for Africa prize this year has taught me that credibility is good. Vogue Italia is a major publishing house – there were a lot of great designers in the category with me, and being selected meant a lot. Italy is the hub of luxury production, and Vogue has given mean opportunity to take my work to Milan Fashion Week, which is unbelievable.

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I’m working in the UK, expanding my brand and wooing more clients. I’m also studying part time at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, pursuing a course in material futures that I started in November 2014. London is a very interesting market and quite different from what we have at home. I want to expand into other products that are easily accessible (like socks and rugs) and have an established supply chain.
My family’s presence in the business is important … They help me with production and distribution, as well as public relations and communication.

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After I discovered Italian knitwear fashion house Missoni, I realised it’s possible to create a legacy through the craft of knit work. I used to look up to Craig Native, Sun Goddess, Marianne Fassler and Stoned Cherrie. They were inspiring because their focus was on celebrating being proudly South African. As my work grew, I liked how people like Alexander McQueen executed their designs and conceptualised their work.
I always make sure I deliver because a design is only really 10 percent of what it takes to establish a brand. I believe education creates awareness because if you are not aware, you have no idea. I don’t mean you’re obliged to get a degree; the internet is a gateway to information and you can use it.
Success is a state of mind. I think it’s important to stay positive every day, and I focus on finding the good in every negative thing in my life.
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