There has been some controversy brewing over the use of Nelson Mandela’s name and image in a new fashion line that is being rolled out under the label 466/64 Fashion.

This story first appeared in the July 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

James Cecil, president of Cadence Communications, which represents the Nelson Mandela Foundation in North America, e-mailed WWD last week, saying, “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 — the name ‘Nelson Mandela’ is not to be used in conjunction with any commercial products. 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 added that 466/64 Fashion and 46664 Foundation “have no affiliation with Nelson Mandela, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, nor the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.”

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A spokeswoman for 466/64 Fashion explained that the 46664 trademark (which takes its name from the prison number given to Mandela when he was incarcerated for life on Robben Island, South Africa) is managed by 46664 South Africa, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 to promote Nelson Mandela’s humanitarian legacy. “46664 South Africa has its own board of directors and is a separate entity to the Nelson Mandela Foundation,” said the statement. “46664 South Africa has officially licensed 466/64 Fashion. 466/64 Fashion’s mandate from 46664 South Africa is to establish a global fashion brand that can create a sustainable income stream in order to fund various humanitarian projects. 46664 South Africa’s ethos is not to use Mr. Mandela’s name and image commercially. 466/64 Fashion is therefore not Mr. Mandela’s clothing brand or line and should not be reported as such.”

Currently 466/64 Fashion is being rolled-out globally. Dallas-based Company B was given the exclusive sublicense for the U.S. and Canada from Brand I.D., a division of clothing and textile manufacturer Seardel, which is 466/64 Fashion’s brand custodian and the master license holder of the agreement with 46664 South Africa.

The brand was introduced to the U.S. market on July 18, Nelson Mandela International Day, at the South African Consulate in New York, with press materials saying that 46664 South Africa was founded by Mandela and that 466/64 Fashion was inspired by Mandela’s legacy.

The brand was launched in South Africa in August 2011 and has funded three container libraries as part of the Mandela Day Library Project 2012 that aims to promote literacy and encourage reading in disadvantaged schools in South Africa.

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