Laduma Ngxokolo: 'We Believe We Have A Strong Case Against Zara'

The designer says he has taken the necessary steps to protect his intellectual property since he created the clothing brand.

Founder of MaXhosa luxury clothing brand Laduma Ngxokolo says he is confident that they would win a court battle against giant retailer Zara.

This is despite the fact that the Spanish retailer has won cases against popular high-end brands like Christian Louboutin. A French court ruled in favour of Zara's right to use red soles — similar to the Louboutin's — on their shoes in 2012.

"We believe that we have a strong case against them, and we have seen the reaction — them removing socks from their global online store and removing some of the specific style from their Sandton Zara store," Ngxokolo told HuffPost on Wednesday.

He explained that his team has carefully studied theZara replicas and realised: "In most cases when they copy a specific brand, they do a similar version. In our case it is not similar, it is exactly what we are doing. Our case is unique, in the sense that if they copy Gucci, they won't use the distinctive Gucci pattern or Gucci stripes," he said.

The designer says he has taken the necessary steps to protect his intellectual property since he created the clothing brand.

"If someone wants to go further, [they need to] protect the specifications that make their work unique, so that no one legally touches it. In my case I did that when I started my brand, with five innovative designs that did not resemble any generic designs," he said.

He added: "From there we kept on modifying the work and updating it — so that is the advantage that we have as a brand."

"I feel it is not fair when they take the art directly as it is or take something from a culture and acknowledge where it comes from, that is major disrespect."

Ngxokolo says he was "in disbelief" and "confused" when he first caught wind of the news that his work was replicated.

"We were notified by one of our clients based in London, who noticed an item at a Zara store in London and the sent me a direct message on Instagram with a picture. I realised that Zara [was in] copyright infringement of our work. After that followed notification from New York and another one from Sandton."

He has recived a lot of support from family and friends who have promised him they will boycott Zara.

"A lot of people sent messages via social media, via calls — making their vow that they are willing to take further steps by [not buying] from them. I then took it further — I will stop purchasing from them too."

Comments continue to pour in on social media, with some claiming that MaXhosa is too expensive and that Zara replicas will give them a chance to sport the popular label.

Ngxokolo says his objective was for MaXhosa to be a high-end brand and that what people decide to do "is a matter of integrity".

"When we came into the market we made it clear that we benchmarked ourself in the luxury space" — although he adds that he tried to make the brand more accessible "by selling socks for R200 and our shorts for R1,700, and [collaborating] with other brands to make our brand accessible to the masses".

The award-winning designer says it is great that the rest of world is starting to look at Africa for inspiration — but artists should be credited.

"I feel it is not fair when they take the art directly as it is, or take something from a culture and [fail to] acknowledge where it comes from; that is major disrespect. For us when, we use their anthology of work, we do explain that this is a 'Victorian style' or 'Pop Art style' — so I think they are wrong for not acknowledging their source."

The local label consulted Moore Attorneys on Tuesday to handle the alleged rip-off of items from their Khanyisa range sold at Zara.