Selling Extremism: Nationalist Streetwear And The Rise Of The Far Right

by MR Magazine Staff

The enduring image of the racist skinhead, with his signature shaved head, black combat boots and bomber jacket, has all but disappeared. In its place is 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. Especially popular across Eastern Europe and Russia, the clothing is often high-quality, with T-shirts alone costing upwards of $35. In my interviews with 51 youth in and around far-right scenes in Germany (all of whom were apprentices in construction trades), I found that this clothing is far from just a reflection of youth identity. It also helps mobilize the far-right. One way this happens is by opening access to certain far-right environments. One 16-year-old self-identified right-wing nationalist told me that clothing can act as a ticket to underground concerts and events where youth aren’t already known. The coded messages of their dress send signals to insiders. Read more at CNN Style.