Ngxokolo, who graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a degree in fashion, toyed with the idea of moving to Cape Town in the beginning, but he decided to stay in Port Elizabeth as part of the campus’s newly established creative, innovation, and design hub.
Young Xhosa men undergo an initiation ritual that involves replacing their clothes with new ones, including high-quality knits.
His love affair with knitwear, however, began long before his formal studies. “I was influenced by my late mother, who motivated me to create unique knitwear,” Ngxokolo tells Ecouterre. “Personally, I had always wanted to dress differently while embracing my traditional aesthetics.”
MaXhosa also has a deeper cultural context, one born from patriotic pride. In the Eastern Cape Xhosa communities, young men between 18 and 23 undergo six months of intense training in “circumcision schools” before they’re initiated into manhood. Part of the ritual involves replacing all their clothes—holdovers from their boyhoods—with new ones, including high-quality knits. Because few local sources are available, initiates typically turn to imported brands like Pringle of Scotland and Lyle & Scott. “As a person who has undergone the Xhosa initiation ritual,” Ngxokolo says, “I felt that knitwear brands like these bear no aesthetic resemblance to Xhosa traditions.”