Happy Birthday To The Late Great Nelson Mandela ... But Can We Talk About His Sustainable Style Tho

Happy Birthday to Nelson Mandela! On this day Mandela was born - July 18th, 1918 in South Africa. He was the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. We commend is amazing work as an anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist. He received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, and is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation”.

BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT HIS SUSTAINABLE STYLE THO ...

 Nelson Mandela waves to supporters shortly before being inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratic president … He’s wearing his very first ‘Madiba shirt,’ given to him by Cape Town fashion designer Desre Buirski

Nelson Mandela waves to supporters shortly before being inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratic president … He’s wearing his very first ‘Madiba shirt,’ given to him by Cape Town fashion designer Desre Buirski

In 1994, the designer Desre Buirski gave a gift of a hand-printed batik shirt to Nelson Mandela’s body guard, with a note saying “Thank you for everything you have done and the sacrifices you have made for our beloved country”. Mr Mandela wore the shirt the next day to the dress rehearsal for the opening of Parliament, and was photographed on the front page of a local newspaper.

From that point on, it was over!

While most politicians wore suits and traditional formal shirts, Mandela broke the rules! His shirts had flamboyant patterning, with the most distinctive of these being patterned batiks and hand-painted designs, produced by Desré Buirski. 

Buirski subsequently designed many printed, embroidered and over 150 hand-painted silk shirts for South Africa’s beloved Madiba, which he wore on the world stage, becoming a global style as well as political icon. The style of "The Madiba Shirt" evolved and so did men's fashion in South Africa.

The ones that Mandela specifically wears are silk, hand-painted shirts, and they are…. brightly colored with geometric (patterns) and floral designs…. At first he told me he liked earth tones, but he’s probably got every single color in the rainbow as part of his collection of shirts that I’ve done for him.
— Desre Buirski

 

GQ SOUTH AFRICA

Rather than making him merely a fashion icon, this shirt reflects the hugely independent spirit of Mandela. ‘He changed the dress code for men in South Africa overnight,’ believes Lucilla Booyzen, director of South African Fashion Week. ‘It gave men in South Africa the right to wear a shirt without a tie, without being seen as trendy or super-fashionable. Not a fashion icon, but a style icon? Yes.’

Nelson Mandela's sustainable style was culturally political, using the vibrant cultural prints to better identify with his community and this will forever make him a style icon. 

 Mandela at his 79th birthday celebration in 1997. Photograph: PA

Mandela at his 79th birthday celebration in 1997. Photograph: PA

 Daily Moniter

Daily Moniter

 Mandela wearing another one of Buirski’s famous silk shirts

Mandela wearing another one of Buirski’s famous silk shirts

 Mandela wearing another one of Buirski’s famous silk shirts

Mandela wearing another one of Buirski’s famous silk shirts