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Nelson Mandela-Inspired Clothing Line Coming to U.S.

The number that was once synonymous with Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment will soon become a staple of fashion in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation started a clothing line bearing the name, “46664.” The number, which was given to the former South African President during his 18-year imprisonment on Rodden Island, is now the reminder around the globe of a movement for equality and empowerment in South Africa.

In 2011, the brand, 46664, began as a men’s sportswear fashion brand using not only bright colors and bold prints, but authentic African “shweshwe-print shirts” and African color schemes. The line will also feature women and children’s apparel.

The line, which hopes to become South Africa’s first global apparel line, aims to boost the country’s clothing manufacturing district by working locally and sustainably.

A Dallas-based company, B US Inc., has offered 46664 an exclusive deal, which will allow the collection to be sold in the U.S. and Canada.

“The designers are very much in tune to the vibrant nature of South Africa, whether it’s bright colors or a shweshwe print,” Aaron Patton, chief executive officer of Company B, told WWD.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in 2002 as a global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention organization. Though he is not directly involved with apparel operations, 46664 plans to use the money earned through the apparel line to support the humanitarian’s projects.

“Mr. Mandela gave his prison number to 46664 and supports all projects undertaken by the campaign,” said a spokesperson for Brand Identity, a division of Seardel and 46664 Apparel, according to MadameNoire.Com.  “He is not operationally involved in the 46664 Apparel.”

WWD reports the fashion line will officially launch on July 18, Mandela’s 94th birthday; retail stores will be expected to carry the apparel by the holiday season.

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