The story behind the iconic shirt made famous by Nelson Mandela.

Presidential Shirt is the brand behind the “Madiba Shirt”, the style of silk batik shirt worn by former president Nelson Mandela.

In 1994, fashion designer Desré Buirski gave one of her hand-painted batik shirts to Mandela’s bodyguard, with a note saying, “Thank you for everything you have done and the sacrifices you have made for our beloved country.”

The next day Madiba was photographed in the shirt at the dress rehearsal for the opening of parliament. He went on to wear over 150 silk batik shirts gifted by Buirski during and after his time as president of South Africa.

“I wear these shirts to represent my people,” said Mr Mandela, “and their struggle, and to represent the beautiful, diverse cultures and traditions of Africa.”

Former president. Nelson Mandela. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Former president. Nelson Mandela. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

An Evolving Brand

Various styles of the iconic Madiba Shirt have been worn by some of the greatest men of our time, and the Madiba Shirt has now evolved beyond the original silk batik.

The Presidential brand now encompasses men’s shirts, jackets, blazers and suits, hand-painted silk shirts, batik-printed shirts, embroidered cotton and jacquard woven shirts, as well as women’s shirts, kaftans and sarongs.

Intricate patterning, luxurious fabrics and artisan craft are synonymous with the brand, and Presidential’s designers have also put together a number of couture pieces, showcasing original designs in a modern way. These exclusive pieces, often made for the runway, have been celebrated on-stage and at various events by fashion-forward supporters.

Presidential is committed to local empowerment and manufactures many of their garments in Gardens, Cape Town, where its highly skilled production team has been an integral part of the brand’s local expansion.

Where To Get One


Flagship store: OR Tambo International Duty-Free

There are also branches at Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town


A selection of the range can also be purchased on the website: