The Most Famous Male Style Icons
The Most Famous Male Style Icons

The Most Famous Male Style Icons

D.G. Hewitt - September 15, 2018

The Most Famous Male Style Icons
Nelson Mandela’s shirts were widely copied in 1990s South Africa. Wikimedia Commons.

17. Nelson Mandela made Indonesian shirts a massive hit in his native South Africa

In the 1990s, men across South Africa started sporting a new kind of shirt. It was known as the ‘Madiba shirt’ or ‘Mandela shirt’, in honor of the freedom fighter, then President, who made the style so popular. Even now, Nelson Mandela’s formidable legacy can be seen everywhere in his native country, including in the clothes its people wear.

Upon being released from prison in 1990, Mandela worked for reconciliation, not revenge. Four years after being freed from the island prison cell he had called home for 27 long years, he was President of South Africa. World leaders wasted no time in congratulating him, with many sending him gifts. The leader of Indonesia sent Mandela a brightly-colored shirt made from batik cloth, a popular garment in the Asian country. The elder statesman was delighted – and he adopted that type of shirt for his everyday dress.

Over the years, Mandela wore hundreds of different versions of the shirt. Some were patterned to celebrate South Africa’s rich flora and fauna, others in bright colors. Sometimes he wore them to greet national leaders, eschewing the usual suit and tie. He famously even wore one for his 90th birthday party. By the late-1990s, Mandela had become a style icon and bright batik shirts were being sold – and worn – right across the newly-democratic country.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Did Hitler Invent the Hitler Moustache?” Slate Magazine, May 2013.

“The Wardrobe of Winston Churchill.” The Rake, January 2018.

“Prince William, Harry and Phillip don the majestic Windsor Uniform.” Daily Mail, May 2016.

“Garibaldi Shirt.” Victoriana Magazine, June 2014.

“Ambassador in a hat: The sartorial power of Benjamin Franklin.” Early Americanists.

“Fury’s fashion people: Louis XIV, the power dresser.” The Independent, July 2013.

“How the Duke of Windsor became a style icon.” The Gentleman’s Journal.

“Science and celebrity: Humphry Davy’s Rising Star.” Science History.

“Ambrose E. Burnside and His Sideburns.” George Washington University.

“Why Did People Wear Powdered Wigs?” Lucas Reilly, Mental Floss, June 2012.

“Indonesia: Mandela the batik fashion icon.” BBC News, December 2013.

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