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Redefining ‘appropriation’: an isiXhosa fashion collection

Natalie Giquel

This year’s spring/summer collection in the Johannesburg Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week saw a transformation of the meaning of ‘appropriation’, with Laduma Ngxokolo presenting a vibrant collection called ‘MaXhosa’.

After completing his Master’s Degree at the Central Saint Martins School of art and design in London earlier on this year, Ngxokolo celebrated his return to South Africa (SA) from the United Kingdom with said collection. Ngxokolo is widely known as SA’s most talented knitwear designer, with an established and highly recognised brand since 2011.

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Ngxokolo claimed the intention of the collection was linked to the topic of appropriation which has been “trending in the fashion community.” The works aim to re-establish the negative association with the concept of appropriation which has been, as Ngxokolo puts it, looked at from a “negative perspective and not a positive one.”

“The only wrong form of appropriation,” says Ngxokolo, “is misappropriation.” The designer explains that the clothes we most commonly wear today are ones appropriated from Western culture. This collection aims to be truly contemporary in its redifining the state as acknowledging the trending demands of our current fashion industry, whilst not conforming entirely.

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The collection is brightly and boldly coloured, with an intelligent and complicated use of layering and pattern pairing. The woman’s wear is neatly fitting with a variation of longer and shorter skirts. Many of the pieces include tassels, beadwork and elaborate patterning that are incredibly attractive to the viewing eye. The outfits are adorned with chunky, eclectic jewellery that further glamourize the collection as a whole.

The men’s range also makes use of layering, with typical shorts, shirts and vests having been transformed with incredible prints and colours. The neat cut and shape of the clothes in the men’s wear leave much room for the material to stand out and make a statement.

Ngxokolo explains that his understanding of fashion has broadened past the aesthetic value it is most commonly known for. His recent degree has taught him to “…consider social influences and current changes that are happening that will shape how the future would look.”

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Images courtesy of  milanstyle.co.uk Pinterest

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