Hip-Hop, Nelson Mandela & 466/64 Fashion

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    466/64 Fashion is inspired by a true global paragon of peace and reconciliation.

    Named after Nelson Mandela’s old Robben Island prison number, the 466/64 campaign is one the world’s largest social justice initiatives. This remarkable enterprise has transformed the lives of millions of people for the better. 466/64 Fashion is a proud extension of Nelson Mandela’s incredible humanitarian legacy and as such it is more than a clothing brand; it is a powerful communal touchstone for proactive change. It reminds us that each and every person has the ability to overturn the status quo and achieve the ‘impossible’. It is an iconic collective catalyst that encourages us to do good for those who need it most.

    As a product of Hip-Hop’s Generation X, I vividly recall the dynamic period of culture creation (and fusion) during the early 90s that spawned the advent of afrocentricity and social consciousness onto the dominant Hip-Hop culture paradigm. 

    This period of self-identity and enlightenment had its roots, of course, in Afrika Bambatta and the Zulu Nation movement but would be pioneered to the masses on the wheels of steel of my good friend DJ Red Alert, the Jungle Brothers and the various branches that formed around the Native Tongues movement (i.e. De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest). 

    Later, groups like X-Clan, Arrested Development and others were building a lyrical and creative arc back to the Motherland that was a task, at once, inspiring and at the same time daunting for a generation that was Made In America and conflicted by material pursuits and the allure of street dreams. 

    Sometimes, the lyrical coding was fused, nuanced and subtle.  As Q-Tip rhymed so eloquently on the track Verses From the Abstract off the classic Low End Theory (which was riddled with such references): “Afrocana lurks through the body of this youngin’…Play like Bobby Byrd on your back and you’re comin’ to the house of the Jazz, of the Funk of the Rhythm…” 

    Other times, the message was more direct and affirming.  As the Jungle Brothers waxed poetic on Know Your History:  “My forefather was a King, he wore fat gold chains and fat ruby rings…”

    Longing for a sense of identity, we took the JB’s righteous fruit for thought and ate it up.  Albeit equally motivated by the desire to make a fashion statement, more so than we were prepared to make a social or political statement, we gamely sported Africa medallions around our necks and channeled our inner-Radio Raheem from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.  We even engaged in peaceful protests on our majority college campuses.

    More than just a growing cultural movement that was cutting across racial lines and permeating through the music, the Hip-Hop generation’s penchant for self-expression and fashion trendsetting also opened the lane up briefly for a counter-fashion offensive to the predominant urban utility style of Timberlands and baggy jeans. 

    The mash-up, quirky and vintage style projected through an Afrocentric lens took shape – which has just now come full circle (anyone watching the NBA Finals press conferences can attest).

    Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 during this same period.  And the Hip-Hop generation took notice.  While we may not have been as versed on the Anti-Apartheid movement, we had acquired a sixth sense for injustice and knew it was wrong for a man to, essentially, be jailed simply for his beliefs.

    On their hit “We Can Get Down” off the Midnight Marauders album, Phife rapped about “Mandela being free.”  Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Brand Nubian, Canada’s K-OS and others also dropped Mandela references in their songs.  The parallel course of history for the US Civil Rights Movement and South Africa (and Mr. Mandela’s) struggle for human rights intersected naturally with Hip-Hop’s budding consciousness. 

    Upon his release from prison, Mr. Mandela’s move toward unification and reconciliation further cemented his legacy and informed our maturation and the growing trans-cultural movement in Hip-Hop.  Mr. Mandela’s inward journey while incarcerated signaled all of humanity to strive toward its  highest expression and truly move toward a post-racial society. 

    Today, we have a truly trans-cultural Millennial generation coming of age that is defined less by race, and more by shared mindset. 

    They are more socially active and committed to social causes than any generation before. 

    They support companies that demonstrate social responsibility beyond the pages of their annual report and care about more benefiting others than profits. 

    Millennial’s are starting non-profits and pursuing the path to social entrepreneurship in record numbers.  They are problem solvers and “change-makers.”  They are digital activists who can quickly mobilize through the characters in a Tweet. 

    They are not just starting conversations on Twitter but taking action.  Individuals like my good friend Mike de la Rocha and his Living Rooms Across America Tour which stops in New York for Mandela Day.  

    Faced with significant global challenges, but buoyed by technology and an abundance of ideas and human capital, they are taking change into their own hands.  This is the Mandela Way.  This is the world of 466/64 Fashion.

    466/64 Fashion is more than just a brand.  It is a story of triumph of the human spirit.  It is a manner of self-less living and giving.

    It is an outward expression of an inner-desire to create positive change.  466/64 Fashion is also more than just a worthy cause.  466/64 Fashion is the brand, new flavor for tastemakers on a quest to discover newness. 

    Our designers have captured the colorful, vibrant and youthful energy of contemporary South Africa lifestyle, fused with global trends. 466/64 Fashion is truly a global brand and our style is universal. 

    From a lifestyle perspective, our brand is as relevant in Atlanta and Toronto as it is in Johannesburg.  Bold prints and color is our DNA.  Exclusive fabrications like our shwe shwe print are sourced exclusively in South Africa. 

    The hand logo on our garments represents the universal tie that binds us together as well as being symbolic of our own unique, individual imprint we leave on the world.  Look at the palm of your hand.  The lines tell a story.  Your story.  Who you are.  Where you come from.  And, more importantly, where you are going.  Destiny is not the path given to us, but the path we choose for ourselves. 

    Most of all, like our iconic inspiration Mr. Mandela, 466/64 Fashion represents global and spiritual transcendence and the understanding and belief that each individual can become the change we seek. 

    As our brand supporter, South African multi-platinum vocalist Lira misslira.com sings in U & I.  Start Mandela Day, July 18th, by accepting Mr. Mandela’s challenge that “new hands must lift the burdens” and give 67 minutes of your time to your favorite charity, cause or fellow man.  Then, use #67minutes and #46664FashionUS to encourage others to follow your lead. 

    With the launch of 466/64 Fashion, South Africa is America’s best kept secret no more.  It is a majestic country steeped in inspiration.  I have traveled several times to South Africa this past year and discover something new every time. 

    During my last visit, we visited Robben Island, and Mr. Mandela’s prison cell, on Human Rights Day this past March.  We were led on a tour by one of the political prisoners, who actually lives on the Island (the prison has long been closed). 

    These political prisoners do these tours with purpose.  So that we never forget that their struggle for equality, their struggle for human rights, their struggle for Democracy was not in vain. 

    I invite you to visit our website 46664fashion.com to discover the details of our amazing brand story and wardrobe-building range.  When you purchase our products, you are making a tangible difference.  7-9% of our profits go back into the 466/64 organization (founded by Mr. Mandela) to support its social up-liftment projects around the world.  Yes, it’s In Our Hands.  Doing good and looking good has never felt better. 

    “What if we opened our minds right now?

    Could we truly realize?

    We have that power within our hands

    You and I can make that change

    For a new world we’ve never been

    Yes it’s that place we all long to be

    Let’s make today, the day that you and I

    You and I change the world…”

    Lira, U & I (Return To Love CD) 

    -Erin Patton

    Follow us @46664FashionUS and Like us facebook.com/46664FashionUs

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