Unlikely Fashion Mogul: Nelson Mandela’s Foundation Launches Fashion Line

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Lerato Maduna / Reuters

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela and fashion may seem like an unlikely duo. But that hasn’t stopped the former South African president and anti-apartheid icon from launching a designer line. Fittingly dubbed the 46664 Apparel line, it’s named after Mandela’s inmate number at Robben Island Prison where he spent 27 years in prison for fighting white rule.

Profits from the project will help sustain the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s charitable gifts, while boosting South Africa’s troubled textile and clothing industry. The label comes at a time when the foundation has struggled to fund other projects. For instance, last year it had been forced to stop supporting development agencies in Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique. But this isn’t the first time fashion is married with ethics.  Edun, a line founded by Bono and his wife, also supports and funds sustainable manufacturing in Africa.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s photos of Nelson Mandela’s life and leadership)

And just what style will this ethical label embody? Well, if you like strong bold colors, you’re in luck. The line features brightly colored men’s sportswear and intricately patterned, African-influenced women’s wear, all designed by Seardel, South Africa’s biggest textile and clothing manufacturer. With the collection launching in August 2011, golf shirts and jerseys have a small embroidered palm symbolizing Mandela’s hand. “You are not just investing in a piece of apparel … you also are investing in a plan that will continue to spread that humanitarian legacy” of Mandela, said foundation board member Achmat Dangor.

And although NewsFeed admires the ethics behind the fashion ethics and the brightly colored clothes to boot, it seems many South Africans won’t be able to afford the clothes themselves. A t-shirt starts at $26, while a man’s collared shirt at $86. To put that into perspective, the average South African’s salary is $200 a month.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s top 10 political prisoners)