South Africa’s most famous freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, also had a reputation as a sharp dresser and soon people in the United States will be able to buy clothes inspired by him.
A Dallas-based distributor named company b says the “46664″ clothing line, named after the prison number assigned to Mandela, will be in stores in time for the holiday season.
“This is a global brand that is as relevant in Atlanta as it is in Johannesburg,” said company b CEO Aaron Patton. “The designers have been able to capture and integrate the best of South African style and global fashion trends.”
Company b recently signed a deal with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to become the exclusive distributor of 46664 Fashion in the United States and Canada. Ten percent of all sales will go to the foundation which launched the clothing line last year in South Africa. It features many brightly colored garments with a distinct South African touch, including traditional “shweshwe” patterned shirts. Patton expects it will be especially appealing to shoppers in their twenties and thirties.
“Here in the U.S., there’s a huge interest in color and prints– an intelligent, preppy, yet progressive style among the millennial generation,” said Patton.
The first proceeds from the sale of 46664 (four-double-six-six-four) apparel for men, women, and children recently were used to fund libraries in rural South African provinces. Patton said the majority of the product is sourced and manufactured in South Africa to boost the local industry and provide jobs.
While Company b has not yet signed a deal with any retailers, Patton says there has been lots of interest. He expects 46664 Fashion will be sold in higher-end department stores and some independent retailers. Shoppers too eager to wait until the holidays are expected to be able to buy items from the clothing line online this summer, right around Mandela’s 94th birthday on July 18. In the U.S. collared shirts and denim jeans are expected to go for more than $100.
46664 is the number Mandela wore for 18 years on his uniform at the infamous Robben Island prison near Cape Town. After 27 years in custody as a political prisoner for fighting against South Africa’s racist apartheid system, Mandela was released in 1990 and was elected the country’s first black president in 1994. He retired from public life in 2004 at the age of 85.