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Shudufhadzo Musida launches swimwear brand - Imbe

Former Miss SA and Mental Health Advocate, Shudufhadzo Musida is venturing into the fashion space with her swimwear, Imbe. Co-founded with Colleen Murray, founder of sustainable swimwear brand Lily Label, and Thithi Nteta, a seasoned marketing and communications professional, Imbe seeks to redefine beauty standards and inspire confidence in women.

Derived from the Tshivenda word, Imbelani which represents a celebration of African women’s diversity and beauty. The brand’s purpose is to empower women of all shapes and sizes to feel unapologetically good in swimwear and resort wear.

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Glamour: Congratulations on this exciting venture! What sparked your interest in the swimwear and resort wear space?

Shudufhadzo Musida: I had always been shy and had body dysmorphia. I was in the modeling industry for a few years and the industry didn’t cater for my curves and many other body types. In 2017, I started searching for clothing and swimwear that made me feel like my body and all it’s said “imperfections” were enough. The beach was my favorite place because the ocean is my peace so swimwear became my favorite thing and the more I found swimwear, as hard as it was, that made me feel good - the more I wanted every woman to have access to that feeling. So, I had been thinking about it for years, wanting every woman to feel like that beautiful and have a sense of stillness and peace with their body with all their "imperfections.

Glamour: Please talk to us about the name Imbe?

Shudufhadzo: The name Imbe, pronounced Im-beh, is short for ‘Imbelani,’ which means to sing or praise in Venda. Music and the sun have always been a form of therapy for me. We used to sing and dance in Venda; it was a simple act that gave us so much joy. It didn’t matter what home you came from, what you had or didn’t have - Ra tshimbelela no tshina ro Takala.

Glamour: The founders are phenomenal women from different backgrounds, what’s the common thread?

Shudufhadzo: We all have our own individual stories on how at some point in our lives, either whilst shopping for swimwear or sitting on the beach in a bather, there has been something about that bather we are wearing that made us feel uncomfortable. So, the common thread between us would be that…our desire to have women not only be comfortable in our swimwear but also be madly in love with how their bodies look and feel when they are wearing our swimwear.

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Glamour: What’s your ultimate vision for the brand?

Shudufhadzo: We didn't just want to create another swimwear brand, we recognised there are already quite a few swimwear brands on the market, but we wanted to do things differently. By embracing our mixed heritages, our passion for fashion and our love for being a woman, we created a brand that made other women feel as empowered as we do when we wear our swimwear. Women are consistently put down, hyper-sexualised and compared with each other.

We wanted to change that narrative and encourage women to dress for themselves and pour all their love back into themselves. Shopping for and wearing swimwear can be a very vulnerable experience for most women, and if we can help make that experience more enjoyable, then we have achieved what we set out to do. Imbe is a brand that surpasses trends, we want you to wear your bikini or swimsuit for many seasons to come and so our designs are classic, unique and playful. Our inspiration for the designs comes from embracing femininity and loving what makes you you.

Glamour: What makes Imbe the swimwear/resort wear of choice?

Shudufhadzo: Our attention to detail when designing. Our considerable thought process when it comes to how the swimwear fits on the body, the finishes of each design and our bold colour choices.

Glamour: What sort of conversations are you hoping will emanate from this venture?

Shudufhadzo: Hopefully positive conversations that make women feel seen in a way that they’d like to see themselves, less tears in the fitting room.

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Glamour: What surprised you most about the process?

Shudufhadzo: The importance of the story in every single step of the business. In the conversations, in the product, and how we put it out in the world. The attention to that detail in all the other details.

Glamour: As a proudly South African brand, what did you have to consider from a manufacturing perspective?

Shudufhadzo: Local production is very important to us, especially with the current economic climate, thus we are creating work for local businesses and contributing in a positive way to people's livelihoods.

Glamour: Who is your ideal customer and how does she interact with the brand?

Shudufhadzo: Honestly, our ideal customer is anyone that finds themselves drawn to our brand, no matter their age or how they identify. Ideally, we would love to encourage all people, even those that usually don’t wear swimwear, to try on a bikini or swimsuit and see how they feel. Sometimes getting that person that doesn’t feel confident enough to wear swimwear in the changing room, and having an honest conversation with that individual about their insecurities or what it is that is deterring them from wearing a swimsuit or bikini can make the world of a difference. We want to create a safe space for those conversations and have honest dialogue around all the negatives and positives when it comes to ‘bikini bodies’ and what that even means.

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Glamour: What else would you like women to know about your offering?

Shudufhadzo: We want to stand for something that is important to each of us, Shudu, Thithi and Colleen - which is sustainability, body positivity and embracing femininity. And although a lot of the conversation has been around what we stand for, our product offering is very considered and looks really great on. Our fabrics are stunning, the designs are shaped beautifully and we want to share these products that we are incredibly proud of with South Africa.

Glamour: Please complete the sentence, we should care about sustainability because…

Shudufhadzo: We all have a responsibility to create ecosystems that care for the planet and for people.

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