Presidential Shirts

In 1994, designer Desre Buirski gave a hand-printed batik shirt to Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard with an accompanying note saying “Thank you for everything you have done and the sacrifices you have made for our beloved country”. Nelson Mandela was photographed for the front page of a local newspaper wearing it the next day at a rehearsal for the opening of Parliament. She subsequently designed more than 150 hand-painted silk shirts for South Africa’s first democratically elected President and the style became known as ’The Madiba Shirt’. Today the brand stocks similar shirts, kaftans and sarongs favoured by leaders and royalty.


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