Bantu Wear

An afternoon well spent with the men of Bantu Wear; do check out the exclusive interview into the new fashionable store based in Cape Town, 71 Burg Street.

After a mission of a morning, I finally arrived at the Bantu Wear store where I was welcomed by dear KB (lol) with the warm look of "African time", nonetheless, no time was wasted and the interview was attended to.

What is Bantu Wear?
KB: Bantu Wear is a proudly African brand; using fabric textile (from) all over Africa, mainly central Africa, in order to promote our identity through fashions and also using designers from different countries. That’s basically what Bantu Wear is about: just appreciating the print.

How did it start?
KB: Look, there’s a gentleman called Jimmy Di Umba – he’s the founder of Bantu Wear. It started in the late 90s – 97, but only became what it is right now when he and I were met with the realization that we both had the same passion for African fashion, SO we decided to run with it. We put on the scale, opened up a store and yeah ...

We were actually introduced through a mutual friend who thought we had to meet and that’s how it started; "just two guys having one lunch meeting and the next thing we were opening up a store."
(laughs) We haven’t even officially launched the store yet but the store has been running.

What inspires you/Bantu Wear?
Jimmy: It was at the point when I realized that as Africans, we are losing our root by following what is happening around the world, which is not bad, but at the end of the day, as Africans, we have our own rich cultures, languages and of course couture’s. And I thought why not mix the modern couture with the African couture and we came up with a concept to use African fabrics from all over Africa and combine then styles.
Usually what happens is that African designers are “non-traditional “and such attires are only worn at traditional events and we wanted to create a brand that consists of day-to-day African fashion.

Future plans?
Jimmy: Our future plans are massive. First of all, we want every African to admire and be proud to wear our designs; secondly, we want to show the world what we, as Africans, have to offer and we’re about because what people don’t seem to understand is that a lot of things started in Africa. And as Africans, most people are aware of this but they seem to ignore it but others don’t know.
There was a certain point at which we lost everything just because we thought that what we have is not beautiful enough and resorted to embracing outside fashion (which is not bad) but if you have your own food in the house why would you need to go beg someone else for theirs? Why would you have an appetite to eat somebody else’s food whilst you know how to cook your own?
That is why we want the whole world to wear African because Africa, as we speak, is the future. Africa has been there and it will always be there. And European countries will beg for Africa to feed them. That we know.

Favourite quote.
KB: Do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life.
Jimmy: To be or not to be.
Why? Because in life you choose who you want to be or who want to become.

What are you currently working on?
Jimmy: We're currently working on a still-shoot book called ‘Bantu Wear Lifestyle’ where it showcases the who’s who in fashion and art around each town and city; but of course starting in South Africa, then to the rest of Africa.
We are planning to collaborate with one of the biggest street fashion brands in South Africa. I can’t mention the name now, but it’s big.

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1 comment:

  1. I stopped into Bantu Wear when I was on vacation in that area a few years ago. It's such a unique and eclectic location. There are so many different things to look at, you feel like in addition to being a shop, you are almost in an art gallery of sorts. Its definitely a place I would stop at again if I'm in town.

    Gwyneth Bobbitt @ Zuvaa