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Friday, 10 August 2012

Not on your Nellie! "Authentic" fashion meets Implied endorsement

It was one of those things which, when first mentioned to this Kat, sounded too good to be true: Nelson Mandela, the great statesman from South Africa, launched a fashion line at the South African Consulate in New York last month based on the brightly patterned shirts he is known to wear.  Even the great ones amongst us need to have hobbies, right?

Mandela-inspired 466/64 merchandise? 
466/64 Fashion was behind the clothing range. It claims on its website that its ‘purpose is to help sustain the organizations with helping to promote Nelson Mandela's humanitarian legacy’. Not surprisingly, this has caused some confusion, with people mistakenly believing that Mr Mandela is involved with the brand.   In case you did not know, the number 466/64 is a combination of the prison number given to Mandela when he was incarcerated and the year he was sentenced. More recently, it has referred to a series of AIDS charity music concerts played in honour of Mr Mandela in the 2000s. All of this has resulted in a battle of the press releases between 466/46 Fashion and the Nelson Mandela Foundation concerning who is associated and/or not associated with whom.

First off the block, James Cecil, on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in North America, is reported as stating:
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 further added that 466/64 Fashion and the 46664 Foundation ‘have no affiliation with Nelson Mandela, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, nor the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.’

In response, a spokesperson from 466/64 Fashion is reported as stating:
46664 South Africa has its own board of directors and is a separate entity to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 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.
The plot further thickened when on 1 August 2012, Sello Hatang, again on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, stated:
Hand: 46664 Foundation ...
In 2002, Mr Mandela gave this number [ie 466/64] to the Nelson Mandela Foundation Trust as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices he was prepared to make for a humanitarian and social justice cause he passionately believed in. The Nelson Mandela Foundation Trust licensed 46664 Concerts (“46664 South Africa”) in perpetuity and a pro bono basis, to use the 46664 brand in addressing issues of social injustice … In 2011 a license agreement was entered into between 46664 South Africa and Brand ID (a division of Seardel Group Trading (Pty) Ltd) whereby Brand ID was tasked with establishing a global fashion brand (466/64 Fashion) to create a sustainable income stream for 46664 South Africa.
Then on 2 August 2012, Erin Patton, chief executive officer of Company B, the exclusive licence holder for 466/64 Fashion in North America weighed in by denying that 466/64 Fashion had ever said that Mr Mandela was directly involved in the brand beyond simply serving as the line's inspiration:
... and 466/64 Fashion
We have such an authentic fashion story to tell with this amazing brand that is rooted in South Africa’s vibrant, colorful culture and lifestyle cache as our well of inspiration. We are staunchly committed to ethical fashion as our brand ethos and look forward to bringing new energy, excitement and social impact to the retail channel in the U.S. and Canada. The initial response from retailers and the fashion community has been overwhelmingly positive.
She also added that: 'We have a guarded approach so that we are not overly commercializing his [Mr Mandela’s] image'.

Mr Cecil is reported to have responded via the trade that: 'No matter what the policy is, Nelson Mandela’s name is not to be used for commercial purposes'.

The IPKat wonders where does that leave us? Some parts of the Nelson Mandela Foundation want it known that it is related to 466/64 Fashion but that Mr Mandela is not involved in the fashion line. 466/46 Fashion would like it known that it is not related to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and that Mr Mandela is not involved in the fashion line apart from his political legacy being its inspiration. Clear as mud?

Merpel is fascinated by the words "authentic fashion story".  Are they an exaggeration or an oxymoron?

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