From the notorious prison number to a modish clothing brand, that’s the story of 46664.
The number that identified Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, the place that the apartheid government jailed him for his political activities, has grown to be a name of a unique fashionable clothing line. The product range made its first appearance on South African shelves on 24 August 2011.
At the moment the range is readily available in 15 Stuttafords stores across the country, 46664 Apparel is also available for sale in Namibia and Botswana. It’s set to be promoted abroad in 2012.
The initial batch of the collection comprises of men’s and women’s clothes, which were all designed and manufactured in South Africa.
The eye-catching men’s golf shirts – retailing for between R399 (US$56) and R599 ($83.41) – are expected to swiftly gain popularity among the many young and stylish, at the same time the traditional seshoeshoe shirts convey a vintage African feel to the collection.
46664 Apparel men’s jeans and chinos can also be purchased. The women’s range consists of elegant dresses and skirts, in addition to stylish blouses.
The summer collection is simply a taste of what the brand is sure to offer, which, as reported by Stuttafords’ executive chairperson Hilton Mer, is a “combination of fashion and quality”.
46664 has gone from a degrading prison number to one that “celebrates beauty”, stated Tokyo Sexwale, a Cabinet minister who is also a Nelson Mandela Foundation trustee. Sexwale spent 15 years on Robben Island together with various other political prisoners including Mandela.
“Mandela was branded in jail, but look what taken place,” Sexwale added. “46664 today honors the victory of good over evil.”
The number – pronounced four, double six, six, four – is additionally made use of as the brand name for a global HIV/Aids awareness and prevention campaign.
Funds for Mandela Foundation
Royalties from 46664 Apparel sales will go to the Mandela Foundation, which created the concept of a clothing range as way to make a sustainable income.
Seven percent of the profit derived from sales will go directly to the NGO, as indicated by Brand ID CEO Wayne Bebb. As the brand grows, royalties will increase to 9%, he explained.
Brand ID, the group licensed to produce and manufacture the line, guaranteed to maintain transparency in their allocation of funds to the Mandela Foundation.
“For the next season we’ll be able to say this is what we donated to the foundation, and this is what they’ve done with the funds,” said Bebb.
Former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss added: “It’s unlike any other (clothing brand) produced in South Africa, given that the profits guarantee that the Mandela Foundation continues to generate an income.”
Local designers aboard
A group of 3 top designers deisgners were roped in to make sure the 46664 range is attractive to consumers. The well-known Craig Native is commissioned with designing the brand’s T-shirts.
Chris Vogelpoel – also highly regarded – designs the 46664 male denims, while Barbara Tosalli conceptualises the women’s range.
“They’ve all been leading designers in South Africa for many years,” said Mer.
The entire range is manufactured locally in four factories in South Africa – two in the Western Cape and two in KwaZulu-Natal. The brand has created almost 1 500 work opportunities in the factories two of which owned by Seardel, one of the country’s largest clothing and textile manufacturers.
“We’ll continue to grow the production sites in South Africa and generate more jobs,” said Bebb.
The new line and brand will showcase the crème de la crème of South African talent to the world, said Sexwale.
“We’re planning to spread the brand and make it possible for people see the quality that we have in South Africa,” he added.