The apparel brand was formed a year ago in collaboration with 46664, the non-profit organisation that promotes former President Nelson Mandela's humanitarian legacy.
We chat to Wayne Bebb, CEO of Brand ID, the custodians of the brand, about their global roll-out plans.
What spurred the decision to go global? Has there been a demand for the product from overseas?
At the start of this brand journey we set out to create a global brand that could compete with brands around the world, that originated right here in South Africa. The support and interest in the brand globally has therefore been phenomenal. The attraction to the brand is led by the incredible product, which captures the vibrancy of Africa and translates in to a superb high-quality product offering. We combined this with a brand concept and an ethical commitment to social good, allowing the brand to lead around the world with a unique story and integrity. We have received multiple requests through our online store for the product and many enquiries on where consumers around the world can purchase the brand in their country. It is our time to showcase our incredible talent from this country and also to continue to heed Mr Mandela’s challenge to take things into our own hands and make a better life for all.
How did the partnership with Dallas-based company, B US Inc come about?
I embarked on a significant process to identify and consider partners around the world who supported not only the proven ability to launch brands in their global markets, but also that subscribe to the ethical integrity of this brand. Through a detailed due diligence process and the formation of a true understanding partnership, we decided to work together with B US Inc to activate the brand in the US and Canadian markets.
How do you plan to roll out 46664 to the US market?
The “soft” brand activations have already begun with 46664 Fashion being featured in multiple PR channels and at the recent BET Awards Gifting Suite for celebrities in Los Angeles. Nelson Mandela Day will see the launch of the marketing drive and awareness on the brand coming to the USA and through active social networking, public relations and media generate the hype and awareness of the brand. At this time the online e-commerce platform will become live to allow a selected offering to consumers eager to purchase the brand. February 2013 will see the product available at major retail outlets combined with a significant drive in media and marketing activities around the US.
Where else in the world do you plan to launch the brand?
We have recently signed the agreement to have the brand launched in Brazil, Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. We are in final negotiations with a potential EU partner, which could see the brand launched in over 11 European countries. We are also in discussions with partners that will see the brand launching in the UK, UAE and other countries, including Africa.
How has the product done in South Africa?
We have been very excited by the brand uptake in the market and it is not unusual now to see people wearing our brand. Considering we are a year old, we have established an incredibly passionate brand family who continue to purchase the next garment as it is unveiled. The support from our fashion friends in social networking, our celebrities and people of influence who want to become a part of the brand is really indicative that the brand has significant potential.
What I am really excited about is that the international expansion will allow us to generate volume production which makes the product affordable to produce locally. Currently 60% of the product is made in South Africa and the remaining percentage is sourced offshore through SADC or other countries, as this product is not available locally or of small volumes, making it unaffordable. We have a very clear commitment to support the local clothing and textile industry in South Africa and the potential international volumes have already seen us send out costing requests to local suppliers.
How is the 46664 fashion roll-out benefiting community projects?
A material percentage of our sales goes directly to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which uses the funds on key sustainable charitable projects of integrity. Our first project is the building, funding, stocking and maintenance of three libraries at Parkdene Primary in Eikenfontein (Western Cape), Thandabantu Senior Primary in the Eastern Cape and Mandlamasha Community Primary in KZN. This initiative supports Mr Mandela’s love for children and the fight to addressing literacy in the country. We are providing incredible centres of learning for kids, stocked full of knowledge and will encourage interactions in these facilities with our Brand ID team that allows kids an opportunity to learn and absorb knowledge. This first community project ties in with our Spring 2012 campaign which focuses on Mr. Mandela as the Reader, the Writer, the Listener.
What is the inspiration for the 2013 range and what can we expect?
Our inspiration comes from combining vibrant Africanism with the trendy nature of global fashion to complete unique garments that allow our brand family to look incredible and feel incredible about their positive commitment to social good here in South Africa. Expect colour, detailed fabrics and trims in unique settings and womenswear, menswear and kidswear that define you as someone who is conscious of their fashion and their ethics.
What tips can you give to other businesses looking to expand their market globally and for forming solid business partnerships?
Global development is challenging and to enter the market I believe you need three simple characteristics:
1. Faith and belief in your ability and always remember that we can compete on any global stage successfully.
2. Deliver a compelling brand story and understand that you compete not with people in South Africa only; you compete now in a global village.
3. Execute everything with excellence and a vigorous passion that revivifies the people you engage.