An image of models wearing various designs by MaXhosa
Photo courtesy MaXhosa

MaXhosa to Open NYC Pop-up in 2024

The South African luxury brand is set to debut its first U.S. outpost early next year.

Five years after first showing at New York Fashion Week, MaXhosa is heading back to the Big Apple to set up shop. Laduma Ngxokolo, the founder of the South African luxury brand, is currently in the city with his team to sign the lease for a six-month pop-up, which is due to open on the famed Canal Street in Soho early next year.

“We’ve been in and of New York for a few years now,” he told an intimate crowd of media at a restaurant in the Financial District on Thursday night. “The first time I came here, in 2015, I thought, ‘I like the Black people out here,’” he says. “They’re so expressive, they’re so colorful, they’re so diverse. I love the energy.”

Since then, and since starting the fashion label in 2010, the story of MaXhosa has expanded from a South African-centric knitwear brand, inspired by the Xhosa initiation ceremony, to an internationally-recognized name in African luxury fashion, admired by the likes of Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.

Before COVID, MaXhosa’s relationship with New York had been steadily building. In 2018, the Museum of Modern Art commissioned a cable-knit sweater by Ngxokolo as part of its “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibit, and in 2019, Bloomingdales stocked his kaftans for their The Lion King collection, inspired by the live action remake, in a pop-up curated by actress Florence Kasumba.

In 2019, he debuted MaXhosa’s Spring-Summer 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week in a regal show at Spring Studios that featured actor Atandwa Kani, who wore MaXhosa to the Black Panther premiere, and Zozi Tunzi, who went on to win Miss Universe.

Now, Ngxokolo is excited about where MaXhosa, which was also worn by Eddie Murphy in Coming 2 America, could go if it had an American outpost, and was better able to serve its international clientele, as well as explore more film and TV opportunities. “We felt this was the perfect time to test our retail presence in New York,” he says. “We only have positive energy of how it’ll go.”

The New York pop-up marks the label's first international stand-alone retail presence, and Ngxokolo says they’re also looking at Los Angeles and Miami for future possibilities, too. MaXhosa has five retail stores in South Africa, and last month opened up a duty-free one in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. “We’re in the business of offering quite rare African luxury, and African luxury is at a fast-growing pace. You only have to walk around Johannesburg, Durban, or Cape Town where some of the most beautiful individuals are dressed in high-end brands to see that.”

The pop-up is due to open in March, but “don’t hold me to it,” Ngxololo chuckles. “It might have to be April. We’re trying to find the best shopfitter.” The good news is they have found a good landlord, and in New York, that’s half the battle won.