x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

More than a fad

Nelson Mandela's 46664 foundation is set to launch its own fashion label.

Posters celebrating his life adorned university halls throughout the 1970s and 1980s. And T-shirts bearing his famous portrait were all the rage among many students. During the last four decades, Che Guevara has become larger than life, more than a revolutionary. His image is now a pop culture icon.

Unlike the Argentine revolutionary, Nelson Mandela has achieved that level of recognition within his own lifetime. And, as The Guardian newspaper reported yesterday, Mr Mandela's 46664 foundation is launching a new fashion label named after the number he wore in captivity for 26 years. Profits from the venture will go to the charity and the label also hopes to kick-start South Africa's clothing industry.

"The first global apparel brand to emerge from South Africa," the designers claim. In doing this, the former president of South Africa will join the likes of Greg Norman, Liz Hurley and Liam Gallagher in having his own clothing line. Mr Mandela's label will also raise awareness about his foundation's work as well as raise funds.

Mr Mandela's image will not be used by 46664 to avoid accusations of commercialising his likeness. But after a life that has seen extreme tragedies and triumphs, and inspired millions around the world, few people would blame Mr Mandela of ever selling out.