Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


July 8th, 2014

Bantu® Wax for J.Crew – Bringing African Swimwear to the USA market – Design Colab

African swimwear? Most people probably associate Africa with the safari, the textiles, the languages, the history but this amazing continent also has a fabulous shoreline of beautiful beaches. And you know what that means…beachlife, swimming, surfing and swimwear.

Swimwear line Bantu was birthed to change that and highlight the market in Africa for swimwear. Named after the word for “gateway” in Wolof (a native language used in Senegal), Bantu’s mission is to introduce the world to the vibrant beach culture of coastal Africa through its bold swim styles and surfboards. Bantu uses the tag line “Join the Tribe” because they want people to start exploring. They desire and hope that even more people will start visiting the African continent and that companies will start to manufacture even more there. 

Using only local vendors and artisans, Bantu sustainably makes swimsuits that juxtapose African wax cloth prints with modern beachwear in high-performing Italian fabrics. Even better, you can only find these colors here. Since its birth Bantu was made in Africa, by Africans in a way that is sustainably and fairly done.


The company proudly cites that with over 1 billion people, more than half under 20 years of age — Africa today is quite literally the future of the world — and the future of the world is made in Africa. We totally agree!

Yodit Eklund is the founder of Bantu and says

I grew up all over Africa and now spend about 80 percent of my time traveling there for work. In 2009, I launched Bantu. I am a surfer and wanted to bring awareness to the continent’s under-the-radar beaches. There is more and more pollution because people don’t value the beaches in Africa. I thought if Bantu could expose people to the beaches, we could help preserve the environment. “

Bantu uses traditional processes and works exclusively with local vendors and artisans in Africa to make quality products that are functional and authentic for surfers, urban nomads and afro-punks.


“We work with African designers to develop all our prints, which are based on wax cloth. Originally, wax cloth was brought over by Dutch traders; it stuck and has become a vital aspect of African culture today. We use the patterns of wax cloth and print them on technical fabric in Italy (the suits are all cut and sewn in Africa, though). Our craftswomen are trained to make seven styles of swimsuits, but we have so many prints that it ends up being a pretty big collection.”

Inspired by Africa’s transition from dark continent to bearer of light, tales of the mermaid goddess of oceans mami wata, and a passion for surfing, Bantu was created by merging the rich history of African art and textiles with Africa’s deeply rooted surf culture.  Bantu is real beachwear from the real Africa that as they desire will cause people’s perceptions of Africa to change.

But one of Bantu’s aims is to create jobs and help the local economy while also changing the outside view of the continent. “We employ around 30 Africans in Ethiopia, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. And this spring, we also started sponsoring a surf club in Sierra Leone called the Bureh Beach Surf Club.”

This collection below forms a collaboration with american retail giant J-Crew and in our words is a beautiful collection that we can’t wait to get our own hands on!

bantu-x-jcrew2 bantu-x-jcrew bantu-jcrew



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