The number 46664, Nelson Mandela’s prison number when he was jailed on Robben Island, has gone commercial.

46664 Apparel to make its retail debut Clothing range will not commercialise Mandela: 46664 It was launched last month as a clothing brand positioned as the “first global brand” from SA. It is made and marketed by manufacturer Seardel and its design company Brand ID and is sold in shops.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation gets a cut of profits.

Mandela, through his foundation, used the number 46664 as a global HIV/Aids awareness and prevention campaign.

The jump from social awareness to commercialism is to ensure that the organisation does not depend on philanthropy alone, “but becomes a sustainable fundraising vehicle too”, says the brand’s website.

Hilton Mer, executive chairman of Stuttafords, which sells 46664, said the range was quality clothing “consistent with our offering”.

“The detail in the design and clothing is of international standard” and will be stocked in the retailer’s 13 local stores and outlets in Namibia and Botswana.

The range of men’s and women’s clothing will be joined by a children’s range soon. Prices range from R399 for a golf shirt to more than R1000 for jackets and dresses.

Mer said sales were going very well and the brand had been well received. The clothing is manufactured under licence through Seardel.

Seardel CEO Stuart Queen said the idea was driven by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The manufacturer makes some profit, and the foundation gets a royalty fee of 7%-9% based on turnover.

The plan is to export the brand next year.

The 46664 clothing is 60% locally made and 40% imported, but the goal is to produce the whole range in South Africa.

The clothing is sold through 70 retailers and will be available in 46664 stores in the first to second quarter of next year.

The move to commercialise 46664 has been criticised, but Wayne Bebb, CEO of Seardel’s Brand ID, which designs and markets the clothing, said: “A lot of work was and is done continuously around ensuring there is no commercialisation around Madiba”.

When it was launched, 46664 board member Achmat Dangor said the extended global footprint would boost funds flowing into 46664 and affect the clothing and textile manufacturing industries in SA positively.

Brand ambassadors include singers Aretha Franklin, Anastacia, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys in the US, Arno Carstens in SA and Annie Lennox in the UK.

Source: Business Times – Adele Shevel