CNN is reporting that streetwear is now galvanizing, mobilizing, and energizing extremist right-wing movements all over the world — and replacing the shaved-head look that once acted as an easy identifier.
These days, the story said, the standard far-right look is defined by a “fragmented set of mainstream styles and streetwear brands that use coded symbols and messages to market extremist politics, turning T-shirts and hoodies into walking billboards to communicate with insiders and outsiders alike.”
The clothing is especially popular in Eastern Europe and Russia, the story said, and often features internationally renowned racist iconography — like Confederate flags, Viking symbols, and Nazi garbage* — that “connects to the global far right.” English text, additionally, is “ubiquitous,” which probably requires some introspection.
(*Probably an ok time to mention that self-proclaimed nationalists are repurposing the cultural heritage of countries that aren’t theirs, but let’s not let hypocrisy get in the way of a racist agenda.)
And similar to the way that non-racist streetwear culture offers a sense of community, CNN (disappointingly) found that “the clothing helps mobilize extremism with emotional appeals that facilitate a sense of belonging with like-minded others.”
“In this sense, nationalist streetwear acts as a gateway to extremism,” the story said. “It socializes youth toward extremist values and ideals while offering a… sense of purpose and identity, all the while softening racist and xenophobic expression through humor and clever, coded references.”
The extremists are trying to go mainstream, and that’s not a good thing.
You can read more about it at CNN.