Paving the way for other aspiring designers in the Bay, award-winning knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo teamed up with Chivas Regal to launch a five-part designer series at Roof Garden Bar in Central at the weekend.
The first leg of the Laduma Design Business Talks with Chivas Regal kicked off on Saturday with Ngxokolo, 30, sharing his journey to inspire and exchange knowledge with 50 Bay entrepreneurs and designers.
Ngxokolo, who was born and raised in KwaDwesi, said it was important that the first workshop took place in his home town.
“I learnt my trade from my mother, who raised me by herself, and although my journey has not been easy, I worked hard to show people what someone from Port Elizabeth can do,” he said.
“I was one of the first designers in Africa to design Chivas Regal’s packaging, after which I became an ambassador for them.
“Instead of appearing on a billboard, I wanted to launch this project to bring something to the community and help design entrepreneurs around the country.
“I wanted to start the project in Port Elizabeth because I understand the challenges these designers face better. One is the high rate of youth unemployment, which was the driving force behind such an initiative.”
Ngxokolo’s knitwear range, MaXhosa by Laduma, was launched in 2011 and is inspired by the traditional Xhosa beadwork.
Fashion designer Ati Qina, 30, of Mount Croix, who started her company Ati Designs in Richmond Hill nine years ago, said: “Local fashion designers are not well supported in the Bay, but we can’t all leave the city because we won’t be doing the industry justice.
“We need more of this kind of initiative because we need to open up the market some more and introduce people to the talent that we have here.
“I hope this initiative can offer my business a breakthrough, because sometimes as a creative you only focus on being creative and not so much on the business side.”
In April last year, Ngxokolo received a mention on social media from one of the world’s biggest icons, Beyoncé, after she visited the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, where his range was on display.
“I saw someone tweeting about the pictures Beyoncé had taken. It was an awesome feeling because it just proved that a new way of designing needs to be considered,” Ngxokolo said.
He will also be visiting East London, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.