Designed by its founder Laduma Ngxokolo, South African brand Maxhosa Africa brought a breath of fresh air to Tokyo Fashion Week with its vibrant and luxe knits. The show was the latest under the FACE A-J program, which stands for Fashion and Cultural Exchange Africa-Japan. It was directed by Hirofumi Kurino, the cofounder and creative adviser of United Arrows and one of Japan’s leading fashion figures. Kurino also performed a DJ set during the presentation.
The look: Founded in 2012, Maxhosa is known for its knitwear, inspired by traditional beadwork patterns of South Africa’s Xhosa tribe. For his latest collection, Ngxokolo collaborated with Tokyo Knit, a Japanese manufacturing firm that makes high-end knits, and which produced about half of the collection. The designer said in his show notes that he was inspired by contemporary heroes and female leaders. In addition to colorful, geometric patterns, many of the pieces featured people’s faces on intricate jacquard knits.
Standout pieces: Ngxokolo reinvented the men’s double-breasted tuxedo as a knit set that was stunning to look at while also offering ease of movement. He showed both red and blue versions, each with a different pattern and trimmed in black satin. For women, pleated skirts were both versatile and eye catching, providing different perspectives as the models moved. Long cardigans and wide-legged pants paired together perfectly, but would also work well as statement pieces to complement more basic items.
Takeaway: Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the show underscored the importance of programs such as FACE A-J, as it showed a side of fashion that is rarely seen in Tokyo. From a design perspective, the partnership between Maxhosa and Tokyo Knit was a successful one, and more Japanese companies should strive for similarly unexpected collaborations.