South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo has teamed up with financial giant Sanlam to create a functional piece of fashion or wearable tech that helps its wearer save money. The bracelet named “Mna Nam” allows its owners to improve their savings habits by diverting savings to a digital savings wallet with a simple scan of the wrist. Mna Nam is worn around the wrist and made from modern acrylic with Ngxokolo’s signature bold patterns in gold. It seamlessly fuses tech with fashion, giving wearers a purpose-led accessory that still champions beauty.
Ngxokolo describes his journey through life as amazing but, at the same time, challenging. He grew up with a single mother a financially savvy entrepreneur who’d work hard and save up for quality second-hand clothes for him that she knew would last. She taught him to knit, inspired him to become an entrepreneur and left him a legacy of financial vigilance when she passed away in his teenage years. A legacy he believes is key to keeping his business sustainable.
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We sat down with Ngxokolo to speak about his current venture.
How did the concept of Mna Nam begin?
Sanlam approached me with the idea of creating the bracelets and they wanted associate with my business because of style and brand aesthetic and I was very keen on being part of this venture because it's a fairly new digital project and as a millennial generation I'm going towards that future and because I haven't designed accessories in my brand it was exciting for me to be part of conceptualizing Mna Nam.
How did you come up with the name Mna Nam?
Mna Nam is a isiXhosa word that is a translation from the saying 'Me, Myself and I'. The concept is that it's all about self, and as a consumer you're not going to be buying this product for the likes or social media but for your own benefit.
How has it been received by the general public?
People like the idea a lot to be honest and they like unisex aspects of it, that's why I designed it in white and black with the gold print. They love the fact it's a fashion accessory with functionality and it can be integrated on their phones which is where we hang around the most.
Is the bracelet locally made?
It's 100% locally manufactured and production of it is in Cape Town.
Do you feel it is important for fashion to move towards wearable technology?
I think it's very important for just the main cause of fashion and people to move towards integration the two, now there are sports performance garments that gives good insulation, wristbands that monitor heartbeat, sneakers that are flyknits that are lightweight and all these are achieved by the integration of fashion and technology.
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Now about your brand, Maxhosa are you planning on showcasing any time soon?
We were planning on showcasing next month but we canned that show because I didn't want to put out something that is predictable. So we planning on a show for later on in the year, that is fresh because predictability is something that is common in the South African fashion industry.
Are you planning on expanding the brand more internationally?
For now the focus is expanding more locally, I don't have a good presence in PE, Durban, in Bloem and so the is still room to improve here in my own country and there was someone said an important quote that I believe true " We as a people we need to centre ourselves in our own country, own provinces and not go outside and think that we will impress people, we need to do our own things and collaborate so that other nations can admire us and be inspired "
The prices of your garments, do you think it's viable for the South African market?
Well focus of the brand is to build aspiration, that will make someone who can't afford want to buy a Maxhosa product and that's the products we put out. A lot international brands have built that aspiration and people save so that they can buy the products and it takes time to build that aspiration and in the future when we've obtained that aspiration we might have a diffusion line, but all in due time.