Documenting the style-scape of Lagos, Nigeria




Me: Do you consider yourself rich?

Laduma: Far from it! I believe it'll happen someday soon, for now I'm seriously pursuing my passion.
Before I continue, quick intro.

When I decided my Christmas break was going to be in South Africa, I thought to reach out to a few "style stars" in Johannesburg. Laduma was the most gracious and prompt in his response. His store at Newtown Junction Mall as an apt location for our chat. 

As we walked over to News Cafe in the same mall, I noticed he was greeted with so much warmth and recognition by mall staff, fellow shop owners and some photographers who were so regretful of not having their cameras with them on the day they were "lucky" to spot him. All rather nice to observe.

Me: What's the literal meaning of "Maxhosa"?
Laduma: Literally means The Xhosa People, Ma is the prefix 'the' and the Xhosa people are the 2nd biggest South African tribe. Prominent among the Xhosa people is Nelson Mandela.

Me: What does the brand name mean to you personally?
Laduma: It personally means a celebration of the Xhosa people. I am Xhosa myself and belong to a sub-clan called the Mpondo people. I personally decided to name my brand after the Xhosa people because they possess one of the most beautiful cultures in Africa and even though they represent 1% of African people, they represent Africa very well all the same. They're known continent over and world over for beautiful bead-work and elaborate dress code. I think culture is disappearing and we need to preserve it. I'm doing this through my brand.

Me: I've seen you were awarded the Best Emerging Designer at the 2014 MBFWSA. You've gone on to show case your work at the same MBFWSA and the 2016 Lagos Fashion & Design Week. In addition, you've been featured in international press with favorable reviews. In all of these, what would you call your biggest accomplishment?
Laduma: Awards mean a lot and it was a great honor to receive the award you mentioned, however the entire year of 2016 is probably my ultimate year. My product served its ultimate purpose i.e. changing the mindset of the local market by penetrating the market which I targeted i.e. the black elite, niche market of Xhosa initiates.

Me: If you were to be a specific color in the crayon box, which would it be and why?
Laduma: Royal Blue. It has a special character...I see colors as character as someone who has done a deep study of color from my design background and for me royal blue is a color with special characters of confidence, prestige, royalty and unique male beauty.

Me: What place do you think street style has in the fashion industry?
Laduma: I think it's the most important place as it's reflective of the true tastes of the end users of fashion. It's a personal response from the market of what clothes mean to people, instead of looking at shows curated by creative directors and stylists. Street style offers that dynamic aesthetic which cannot be seen on a stage. It's pretty democratic as well as you don't need to live in an international city to create the beauty of street style. You can come from the farms, shanty towns or ghettos and turn out "ghetto fabulous".

Me: What's the best gift anyone has ever given you?
Laduma: An ex-girlfriend who was from Iceland gave me a drawing of Maxhosa sketched on cats, dogs and birds. It's my most precious gift to date.

Me: If God gave you the opportunity to resurrect someone who's no longer with us, so you could have a 30 minute conversation, who would it be?
Laduma: My Mother.

Me: Who's your favorite street style star?
Laduma: Trevor Stuurman for sure.

Me: Tell me one celebrity you would love to see wearing your brand?
Laduma: Pharrel Williams

Me: Who would you choose to play you in a movie about your life?
Laduma: It will have to be Taye Diggs.

Me: Bath tub, swimming pool, pond, river, sea, ocean...which is your favorite body of water and why?
Laduma: The swimming pool gives me a sense of comfort and relaxation. I'd prefer it to a wider body of water like a river or ocean because in a pool, I can be free to levitate with control.

Me: You were in Lagos last year for LFDW, what was your favorite bit of the city of Lagos?
Laduma: I particularly enjoyed going to Makoko on a sail boat. The people were interestingly different from the rest of Lagos. The people had interesting tattoos on their faces, necks, the women had them on their was quite fascinating. 

Me: What was your not-so-favorite aspect of Lagos?
Laduma: The bribery is an unfair part of living in Lagos, always creating short cuts for doing things and that wasn't great, 

Me: Finally, tell me something most people don't know about Laduma.
Laduma: I don't like to be around people for very long. I work and function better when I'm left alone. Solitude is good for me. It brings me inspiration.

Three hearty cheers to Laduma for this xxcellent Q & A session.

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