Johnnie Walker celebrates 200th birthday with fashion and philanthropy

As Johnnie Walker celebrates 200 years of brewing, it had fashion icon Rich Mnisi bring to life an exclusive clothing line that not only shows how far it has come, but what its future looks like.

Rich Mnisi and Johnnie Walker celebrated the alcohol brand's 200th anniversary with a limited edition clothing line on 13 May 2021 in Sandton. Picture: Winnie Theletsane/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG – Can two legends co-exist? Yes! Rich Mnisi and Johnnie Walker have teamed up to bring you something special as well as donate to charity.

As Johnnie Walker celebrated 200 years of brewing, it had the fashion icon bring to life an exclusive clothing line that not only showed how far it has come, but what its future looks like.

The first pop-up store was at Mandela Square in Sandton on Thursday night and showcased Mnisi’s finest range (also, he never disappoints).

Eyewitness News Lifestyle was in attendance and spoke to Mnisi and Livhuwani Makungo, brand manager of Johnnie Walker, about what the concept represents.

The two brands have long been in cahoots to bring you exclusive clothing lines that will sure make you stand out and keep walking in Mnisi outfits.

“The Johnnie Walker collaboration is not the first fashion collaboration with the brand. Winter of 2020 saw the release of our popular Rich Mnisi Azania collection, which formed part of Johnnie Walker’s #KeepWarmSA, followed by the release of The Man Who Walked Around The World documentary, which was anchored by bespoke sleepwear designs to commemorate the local launch of the docu-film.

"And in honour of the legendary whisky brand’s 200th anniversary we felt this was the perfect opportunity to celebrate this milestone through an iconic collaboration,” Mnisi said.

But for Johnnie Walker, this was much more than just the revival of an existing collaboration.

“To celebrate 200 years of Johnnie Walker, we wanted to commemorate the milestone with our consumers as they are a huge part of our story, so the concept store was a great way for us to give consumers an exclusive experience of the new world of Johnnie Walker,” said Makungo.

All the proceeds from this venture will go to charity.

“We also believe in giving back and all the proceeds from the Johnnie Walker Concept Store will be donated to charity,” added Makungo.

This is the message that Mnisi is sending out with this line: “As a fashion creative, I resonate with the striding man’s journey of discovery and creating a brand that is still being celebrated and loved 200 years later and for me, this line represents that hero.”

But what are the prices like, you may wonder? A gorgeous long bomber jacket goes for R4,000, while a pair of socks can be bought for around R300 among others. That’s not a lot for charity, right?

“We not only wanted consumers to shop these limited edition items, but we also felt it was prudent for them to fully be immersed in the new world of the brand. We are constantly working on ways to elevate the brand and consumer experiences, so given the positive reception we received from our first pop-up store, there are definitely plans to expand this experience in other regions soon,” Makungo said.

Events under the COVID-19 cloud have become a challenge. And we think modelling the clothes instead of just hanging them there for the crowed to browse, would’ve worked better.

But the virus has restricted this and Makungo agreed, and said the alcohol brand came up with ways to make the concept more appealing.

“We definitely live in unprecedented times and the health and safety of all South Africans is of great importance to us. In this, our plans to celebrate our 200-year anniversary are focused on celebrating this milestone through extending the opportunity to win some of our limited edition Johnnie Walker x Rich Mnisi merchandise and R25 million in prizes through purchasing a bottle of our 200-year anniversary pack at any local retailer.”

Johnnie Walker has not yet decided on when and where the next pop-up store will be, but after 200 years of life, the brand is projecting a bright future:

"The Johnnie Walker brand intrinsically believes in the spirit of progress, we have made it this far through the faith and consistent support of our consumers and customers. With this in mind, we aim to live our brand mantra in 'Keep Walking' and grow and evolve with our consumers as they walk through their journey in life.

"We look forward to taking part in more collaborations and listening to what our consumers look for in pursuit of their richest life, uncovering and shining a spotlight on what makes South Africa truly iconic as a nation. In summary, we Keep Walking."

Be on the lookout for the next pop-up store and get yourself an item or two… for charity.

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