Laduma Ngxokolo, the founder of SA luxury label MaXhosa Africa, is opening the apparel and décor knitwear brand’s first New York pop-up on Soho’s Canal Street in February 2024. He shares insights into his design philosophy and what he is carving with the six-month international pop-up presence.
The MaXhosa team has always had their sights on New York City as a retail base, considering its position as a fashion capital and the significant portion of MaXhosa’s client base beyond the African continent.
“We have been working between New York and SA since 2015, and we’ve had various luxury fashion distributors handling the distribution of our products,” says Ngxokolo on MaXhosa’s connection with New York.
The brand has showcased its designs in various museums throughout New York. Notably, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) commissioned a cable-knit sweater by Ngxokolo as part of its Is Fashion Modern? exhibit in 2018. In 2019, Ngxokolo debuted MaXhosa’s spring-summer 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week. In 2024, they will showcase their spring-summer 2025 collection in New York, with more details to follow.
To cater to the New York clientele, MaXhosa introduces a unique approach. The brand will offer two seasons to accommodate both the northern and southern hemispheres. The team plans to make exclusive pieces available at the New York pop-up store, providing a tailored experience for the city’s dynamic fashion scene.
To engage with the Soho community, they are organising cultural events for the African diaspora and locals. “We are also planning on making the space available upon request for private shopping to clients,” Ngxokolo says.
The team’s event schedule includes a commemoration of SA’s 30 years of democracy.
Ngxokolo hopes to expand MaXhosa into other global markets to increase its retail presence internationally. He says: “We are in a phase now, where we are super excited about all prospects regarding our retail expansion, because of the processes set in place. We also want to be very intentional about the markets we enter, so there are a few other countries we are eyeing, and we also have set our vision onto the continent more. Our aspirations are to grow more pop-up stores globally, more so the Middle East and East and West Africa, perhaps touching base with continents we have a big pull in, including Africa.”
Speaking to New York’s cultural diversity and its synergies with the brand’s identity, Ngxokolo highlights that MaXhosa underwent no major adjustments.
“Similar to SA, New York is a very colourful space, with multiple cultures and ethnicities, we have had to be true to the vibrancy of our country and continent,” he says.
Launched in 2010, MaXhosa has achieved several milestones, notably for its unique design approach inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork, colours and symbolism. Art and a devotion to modernising culture are key components representing the brand’s essence.
On the brand’s vision and the thinking behind the current pop-up collection, Ngxokolo says, “We want to bring African folklore, cultures, languages, and mythology to the world stage, but also make it trendy. My design philosophy was that people who wear our products wear them with a certain conviction in mind, hence we named our latest collection African Space Travellers Organisation because our aesthetic is boldly African, whenever our customers pop up in our clothes, they showcase our narrative and share our conviction.”
MaXhosa is also gearing up for their upcoming MXS Kulture Festival, which celebrates culture, music and fashion and taking place in Johannesburg on March 23 at Sargent Family Estate.
“[It is] our expression of culture and the curation of things that we hold dear through the lens of MaXhosa. This will be a culmination of access to our upcoming collection,” Ngxokolo says.
MaXhosa Africa’s journey from SA to New York fuses cultural richness with global aspiration, and adaptability and resonance with diverse audiences.
Ngxokolo envisions a future where MaXhosa continues to make an impact on the fashion landscape, bringing African narratives to the forefront of global conversations.