Controversial claims that Nelson Mandela had founded a fashion line launching in America this US summer have been revealed to be untrue.
The label, called 466/64 Fashion, is claiming to be inspired and founded by Mandela, leading people to believe his political legacy is behind the brand.
But James Cecil, president of Cadence Communications, which represents the Nelson Mandela Foundation in North America, said: “They cleverly use his quotes in their advertising, but this is not his line of clothing; he did not launch it, nor is he associated with it.”
He said: “466/64 Fashion is making false claims that it is tied to Nelson Mandela – it is not, nor does it benefit him or his foundations. They are deliberately misleading people in the fashion industry.”
Cecil said both 466/64 Fashion and the 46664 Foundation “have no affiliation with Nelson Mandela, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, nor the Mandela Rhodes Foundation”.
The collection, named after Mandela’s prison number while he was jailed on Robben Island, has so far only been available in SA.
“It does not benefit him or his foundations. They are deliberately misleading people in the fashion industry.”
The brand, introduced to the US market last week on Nelson Mandela International Day, at the SA consulate in New York, features casual wear in bright colours and vibrant African-influenced patterns, with lines for women, men and children.
A spokeswoman for 466/64 Fashion explained that the 46664 trademark is managed by 46664 South Africa, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2002 to promote Nelson Mandela’s humanitarian legacy.
After Cecil pointed out that Mandela’s name “is not to be used in conjunction with any commercial products”, the spokeswoman said 46664 South Africa’s ethos “is not to use Mr Mandela’s name and image commercially… it is to establish a global fashion brand that can create a sustainable income stream in order to fund various humanitarian projects”.
The line “is therefore not Mr Mandela’s clothing brand or line and should not be reported as such”.
The brand, with press material stating that 46664 South Africa was founded by Mandela and that 466/64 Fashion was inspired by Mandela’s legacy, was launched in SA in August last year. The line, which will see 10 percent of proceeds go to the foundation, includes “shweshwe” shirts, which Mandela often sports, and hoodies with 466/64 on the back.