Making Support for Nelson Mandela’s Foundation Fashionable

Print Share on LinkedIn More

March 9, 2011; Source: | Some kinds of philanthropy are more fashionable than others. Nelson Mandela's foundation is putting that belief to the test through the launch of a new line of clothing that it hopes will do double duty – raising money to help it increase global awareness of HIV and AIDs and supporting South Africa's troubled textile industry.

Named after Mandela's inmate number at Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 24 years for his anti-apartheid activities, the 46664 Apparel line will, according to the Associated Press, feature "brightly colored men's sportswear and intricately patterned, African-influenced women's wear, all designed by Seardel, South Africa's biggest textile and clothing manufacturer."

Golf shirts and jerseys in the clothing line will be embroidered with a figure of an upheld palm that symbolizes a challenge the former South African president issued at the 46664 London concert in 2008 for "new hands be found to lift the burden." Foundation board member Achmat Dangor says that people who buy the clothing "are not just investing in a piece of apparel … you also are investing in a plan that will continue to spread [Nelson Mandela's] humanitarian legacy."

For now, the price of the clothing seems out of reach of the average South African. The AP reports that a T-shirt will cost about 180 rand ($26) and a man's collared shirt costs some 600 rand ($86). Yet, about one-fourth of South African workers are unemployed and the average earnings for farmworkers is 1,300 rand (less than $200). But if the line catches on, the foundation will collect royalties starting at 7 percent, and rising to 9 percent, on top of the 1 million rand (about $143,000) it already received.—Bruce Trachtenberg