Bono Talks Denim Collaboration With Diesel

Singer and wife Ali Hewson seek to create job opportunities in Africa

Eric Helton
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Bono found it strange to arrive in Indio, California, and not head straight to Coachella, but the singer has a different mission this year that coincides with the festival.

"I was reminded as we arrived here just how magnetic and magic the landscape," he said at Rolling Stone's Rock Room at Coachella. "And it was very difficult, I'll be honest with you, as a lead-singer type to drive by the festival – I just felt like I'd missed something very special, but I missed something very special to be a part of something extremely special."

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That project is Edun, a fashion brand he co-founded with his wife, Ali Hewson, that's working to create sustainable, long-term working opportunities throughout Africa. Joined by Hewson and new partner Renzo Rosso, founder of the apparel brand Diesel, the three explained their upcoming collaborative effort DIESEL+EDUN. It's a 25-piece denim collection set to launch this spring that was sourced and manufactured entirely in Africa.

"Consumers want it, they want to know what's going on behind their clothes," Hewson said. "They want to know what the story is, and they're asking the questions. It's really important that everybody feels what they buy has a good story behind it. And that's what we're trying to do."

The three also recalled a festival they attended outside of Timbuktu in Mali a few years ago, with Bono noting that two weeks after they'd left the country was closed down. "The little inn that we were staying in became the headquarters of Islamic justice where it was decided which musicians would have their limbs cut off for the crime of playing music," he said. "So it is just a very sharp reminder of how much we need to cherish the joy and the silliness even, the beautiful – as they say in Diesel language – the stupidity of being free and fun and the frolics that go with it."

Interview by Steve Baltin; text by Jon Blistein.