A former South African president—and an anti-apartheid icon, at that—is the last person you’d expect to launch a clothing line, but Nelson Mandela didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize for sticking to convention. Named after Mandela’s inmate number at Robben Island Prison, 46664 Apparel will debut in August not only as a means to fund the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s charitable efforts (particularly its 46664 AIDS awareness campaign) but also to bolster South Africa’s lagging textile and clothing industry.
NOT A NUMBER
“46664 has evolved to become much more than a global HIV/Aids awareness and prevention campaign,” Achmat Dangor, a 46664 board member, announced earlier this month. “The work of the organization encompasses Mr. Mandela’s humanitarian legacy, as well as confronting and inspiring action to address the broader social injustices in our society. To this effectively, 46664 needs reliable and sustainable income streams, something we believe 46664 Apparel can significantly contribute to.”
46664 Apparel’s logo is an embroidered palm symbolizing Mandela’s hand.
The line, which comprises both mens- and womenswear ranges, aspires to become a global fashion brand, one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with fashion’s big guns. But you won’t have to look far to suss out 46664 Apparel’s primary intent. Its logo is an embroidered palm symbolizing Mandela’s hand—a literal interpretation of his call for “new hands to lift the burdens” at a 46664 concert in London two years ago.
In addition to an “experiential concept store” in the African business hub of Johannesburg, 46664 Apparel will be available at select, local retail outlets. A plan for international distribution is likely to start in 2012, along with a stand-alone website with e-commerce in place.
Strangely enough, Mandela isn’t the first Nobel winner to turn fashion designer. Archbishop Demond Tutu guest-designed a sweater for Lutz & Patmos in 2009.