The makeup is simply an extension of the personality and colors, clothing, makeup all express something. —Gene Simmons
As I’m typing this, a crisis of sorts is playing out in Cyprus where an Egypt Air craft with 55 people and crew aboard was hijacked earlier this morning. For a while, it seemed as though terror had struck again. Now, though, it appears that this particular idiot went to the most ridiculous extreme possible in order to get the attention of his ex. While, on one level, we can laugh at the absurdity of such an act, we still shudder at the fact that this man was able to board a plane with what still appears to be an explosives belt.
Terror is far too prevalent in contemporary society and fighting it is difficult as traditional means of warfare often prove ineffective against an enemy that is far too comfortable with taking innocent lives. What’s happening, though, that makes the war against such extremism all the more difficult, is that terrorists are starting to use clothing as a means of branding their cause and the popularity of that clothing is actually helping terrorists to expand their recruiting and further their message of hate.
Sarah Elizabeth Williams writes this morning in a frighteningly detailed article for Business of Fashion how clothing continues to be an effective PR tool for the organization I will continue to refer to as Daesh. In short, the appearance of Daesh’s logo and slogans on clothing items such as t-shirts, hoodies, totes, and sweatshirts plays a significant role in helping to pull young people over to the cause of extremism. The clothing has cropped up in stores in Southern Turkey, Tripoli, and Beirut, but a large number of sales have occurred online where both the source and the buyers are more difficult to catch.
Using clothing to help brand extremists views isn’t anything new. Some of you may still own t-shirts or berets with an image of Che Guevera. Neo-nazi groups and hate mongers such as the Ku Klux Klan using distinct and easily identifiable clothing to brand who belongs to their own group. Yet, none of those are matching the devastating effects Daesh is rendering with their clothing.
Ostensibly, clothing carrying the Daesh logo and message are intended only for members of the terrorist organization. However, as its popularity has grown among disenfranchised Muslims, specifically young people who tend to feel disenfranchised from government in the first place, clothing has cropped up all over the middle east at a rate that might cause one to wonder whether Daesh has any real control over the clothing or if it’s being produced independently by those sympathizing with the group’s ideals.
Yes, the manufacture, marketing, and sales of such materials is still very much illegal in most Western countries, but again, the Internet allows the group to sell anything just about anywhere. Yes, sites such as Paypal and Facebook will take down the material when they catch it, but finding it can be tricky as it moves back and forth between different accounts.
Branded clothing already speaks to younger people right where they are. The exclusivity that such materials are only supposed to be worn by Daesh militants makes them all the more appealing. Daesh is using exactly the same marketing tactics as some of your favorite brands, and its working!
There’s no easy solution to this problem. Know that simply possessing such material in the United States is illegal and wearing such clothing is grounds for arrest and possibly indefinite detainment. Law enforcement is not going to risk allowing terrorists to recruit and grow cells right out in the open if they can help it. This is very much a case of citizens needing to speak up should they see anyone wearing Daesh logos on any clothing, or carrying it as a part of any activity.
Terrorism is scary enough as it is, and now they’re starting to use the sale and marketing of clothing against us. Be aware.