JOHANNESBURG – Chinos lined with a blue African print and floor length dresses in vivid greens and golds were some of the clothing on display when 46664 Fashion, a label inspired by Nelson Mandela, presented their latest collection ahead of an international launch in July.
"What we are trying to do is take South Africa or Africa into the global market," Chris Vogelpoel, the menswear designer said Friday.
As of July 18, customers in the U.S. and Canada will be able to buy shirts, trousers and dresses with an African twist. Blazers with a map of Africa in the lining or T-shirts with collars that pop up to reveal the iconic number 46664, named after Mandela's Robben Island prison number.
The launch date will coincide with the anti-apartheid icon's 94th birthday.
The current collection was inspired by Mandela's love of the written word. The designers drew inspiration from a 1977 photograph of Mandela's cell on Robben Island which was packed with books.
"The whole message about 46664 is to promote and sustain his legacy," said Vogelpoel. The message could be found on T-shirts printed with the word "dignity" or through the open palm icon, discreetly placed on the clothing, which has become synonymous with Mandela's message: it is in your hands to make a difference.
Seven percent of the global funds generated by the brand go towards projects overseen by Mandela's office, including a campaign that will lead to the opening of three container libraries in disadvantaged communities across South Africa, Vogelpoel said.
The clothing range will initially be available online but is expected to be in stores by February 2013. The year-old label hopes to continue to expand to other countries including Angola, Mozambique, Portugal and Brazil.