Yoduit Eklund knows most people don’t think of beaches when they think of Africa, but she’s aiming to change that by starting with the swimsuits. The 27-year-old has created her own swimsuit line called Bantu that aims not only to create jobs in Africa and help revive the local economy, but also to change the outside view of the continent. “A lot of people are used to seeing images of poverty and famine, all these negative images,” Eklund told New York’s fashion blog, The Cut. “But, actually, Africa has a great beach culture, and so I thought highlighting this would help increase tourism and paint a brighter picture.” Eklund, the daughter of a refugee coordinator and a graduate of UC Berkeley, has lived all over the continent and has used her experiences to help create the colorful line. With the tagline “Join the Tribe,” Bantu uses the same type of technical fabrics used in the U.S. for board shorts but works with African designers to create the prints, which are based on traditional African wax cloth. The swimsuits are all cut and sewn in Africa, but they are shipped overseas to be manufactured as there is no manufacturing capability on the continent.
Bantu creator Yodit Eklund says she doesn’t want people to think of ‘pity purchases’ for Africans.