Khaki pants and polos the new look for white supremacists

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – AUGUST 12: White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” exchange insults with counter-protesters as they enter Emancipation Park during the “Unite the Right” rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Emancipation Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For decades, the style of white supremacists had a predominant image — a conical hood with cutout eyes and a long robe, most often in white, but sometimes in black or other colors. This costume, the widely recognized robes of the second Ku Klux Klan, dominated the early 20th century.

Before 1915, while some Klan members did wear hoods and robes, their uniform wasn’t consistent. Klan members also relied on folk traditions to guide their mode of dress wearing fake beards, animal horns, blackface or cross dressing when rallying or intimidating victims.

Not having a set uniform made it easier to explain away their brutal acts as boyhood shenanigans and with the broad political and public support they enjoyed at the time, there was no need to dress up, said Alison Kinney, author of Hood (Bloomsbury, $15). Back then, every single member of the community showed up for public lynchings dressed as if it were just another day in the park.

Last weekend, when supporters of neo-Nazi, White nationalist and Ku Klux Klan ideology descended on Charlottesville, Va. for the “Unite the Right” rally, they appeared to be taking a sartorial trip back to the 19th Century. By holding loosely to a uniform of knit polo shirts and khaki pants, they aspired to look more like everyday people than the horned, hooded figures of yesterday.

“They have been emboldened by Trump,” said Kinney. “It reminds me of the way that white supremacy in the U.S. since the Reconstruction Era has enabled people to go and be photographed in the everyday public.”

But even in the old days, the hoods and robes weren’t used to hide. “The hood wasn’t there so much as to help them hide their identity, as to make them feel as if they were members of a fraternity or a boy’s club,” Kinney said.

The look went mainstream when Hollywood intervened, most notably in D.W. Griffiths 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” Kinney said. Around the time of the movie’s Atlanta premiere, the same year Leo Frank was lynched by a mob of angry whites, a former Georgia minister, William J. Simmons, kicked off the second Ku Klux Klan with a cross burning at Stone Mountain.

Related: KKK’s request to burn cross on Stone Mountain denied

In 1921, the Klan opened Gates City Manufacturing Company in Atlanta to mass-produce designs featured in “Birth of a Nation”  including robes and banners that were available through mail-order.

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA – Klansmen light a cross and march at a Stone Mountain rally. (1979) (Nancy Mangiafico / AJC staff)

While hoods and robes will always have a place among Klan members, it’s just as likely today that the fascist in the crowd is wearing Fred Perry, New Balance or maybe even Gucci.

The new look of white nationalism has brought a fresh problem for brands. What do you do when your product becomes the gear of choice for promoters of hate?

For many years, Fred Perry polos have been the preferred shirt for white nationalists. It’s a play that Americans took from their European comrades who began wearing the brand in the 1960s as a dig on British elitism. The brand became so enmeshed with hate groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center includes Fred Perry in its Racist Skinhead glossary. Dr. Martens, the brand of German work boots founded in 1947, are also on that list.

In July, John Flynn, chairman of Fred Perry gave a statement to a Canadian radio outlet about the matter. “No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with,” he said.

Last year, New Balance took a similar strategy after a popular neo-Nazi website declared New Balance the shoes of white people. And this week, in response to the Tiki torch wielding protesters in Charlottesville, Tiki Brand did the same. “TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed. We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way,” wrote the company in a post on Facebook.

Gucci had a problem of another sort when a Twitter user posted an image of alleged Gucci employees in Trump Tower holding signs that read, “Hate has no home here.” When the image appeared online at Jezebel.com, Gucci sent urgent emails to the website denying that the individuals were employees.

This new look of the alt-right has a purpose — to offer up a clean-cut, normalized image of white supremacy, leaving the hoods and robes of the Klan feeling more like museum ready artifacts.

In a 2014 interview, Richard Bondira, owner of an online retailer of Klan gear who hoped to open a Klan museum, said the demand for hoods and robes isn’t what it used to be.

The overseas market is dead and most of his orders come around Halloween, he said. While the traditional hoods and robes can still be spotted during ceremonies or protests, Bondira said he tells the various Klan groups who contact him that such grand public rallies are a thing of the past.

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
John1066
John1066

Well, great. There goes half my wardrobe options. My wife will be happy to hear this as she's been trying to get me to dress better for a decade.

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lofopewuy

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NavalAviator
NavalAviator

Damn, so much for business casual.  Next guy you see in khaki pants and a polo shirt is obviously a nazi, sitting there reading his newspaper waiting on his flight to board like some evil stormtrooper!  The scary part is that a professional in the journalism field got out of bed one morning and decided to write this arbitrary, meaningless and lazy thing.

Papagrande
Papagrande

Half of the private grammar schools in the ATL will have to change their uniforms.

phungnguyen
phungnguyen

Lẵng hoa tang lễ đẹp – vòng hoa lễ tang thành kính thương tiếc sẻ chia nỗi đau thương mất mát với gia đình. Động viên gia đình mạnh mẽ vượt qua đau thương khó khăn để người đi được nhẹ lòng

https://hoatuoishop.net/danh-muc/vong-hoa-tang-le/

nuschler2131
nuschler2131

The whole story behind the “polo shirts” is from RACKED.com. A “Ralph Lipschitz” who became Ralph Lauren was a Jewish man who knew he could never be a part of the social scene of private country clubs etc. So he observed what THEY wore--the white people who were accepted socially.


https://www.racked.com/2017/8/16/16157838/charlottesville-white-supremacists-polo-shirts-jews


So neo-Nazis end up wearing the polo shirt from a Jewish designer! 


Yes it was LaCoste who first designed the polo shirt, but Lauren kicked it up a notch!

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Dorothy S. Waller

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4williec
4williec

Just can't stir that pot enough can you AJC....and people wonder why there is so much hatred and angst in the world today. The media instigates and encourages it...stop the madness people. It just isn't that big a deal. Live your life the best you can and leave others to do the same. Stop protesting every stinking thing you find objectionable or "offends" you. Life is precious...embrace it and appreciate it as the wonderful God given gift that it is. 

caruncula
caruncula

@4williec  "Life is precious...embrace it and appreciate it as the wonderful God given gift that it is."  Often quoted by the Jews as they were shepherded into the gas chambers. 

caruncula
caruncula

@4williec @caruncula My point is that if you believe this feel good pablum, you fail to realize that that Trump is a fascist tyrant and you acquiesce to your fate, and the fate of America under his rule.

As I said, you sheep are easily shepherded to your own demise. 

4williec
4williec

@caruncula @4williec Fascist? Do you really even know what a fascist is? I'm doubting it...and I've managed to do pretty well for 70 years..two wars, three businesses and a nice retirement...all believing and living that "feel good pablum"...good luck with your hatred and "activism"...God bless. 

almmanduane75
almmanduane75

Funny, I've been around town and all over the state of Georgia with my work since Virginia and I haven't heard one word about polo shirts and Khaki's.


Didn't hear one word about Trump or what happened in Virginia either. 

That narrative just seems to be confined to the liberal media, this paper and the nut jobs that don't have anything better to do in their spare time. You folks on here know who I'm talking about.


Have a good one.

Chow!!

Mr Peabody
Mr Peabody

So much for my comfortably worn in red sweatshirt. It's what I now call Trump red and I gave it Goodwill rather than be seen in it.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

One also needs a large pot belly to pour over the belt in front (see examples below).  Those presenting without the full uniform will not pass inspection prior to the march, will be excommunicated, and sent home in shame.

xupama
xupama

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PamelaThompson
PamelaThompson

Justice, for White Supremacist tween daughters. The Gap,  for White Supremacist wives. Hasbro. His first firearm. Sears, the first choice in home appliances for White Supremacists. Ford Trucks, because White Supremacists need to compensate for size. Home Depot, You need it, we got lumber and tiki torches.  Bic, the only way to light a crossCoke, the most refreshing way to  watch a cross burn. 

quickdigits
quickdigits

Time to get rid of all my khaki pants and white shirts......ya right! Like I'm supposed to Go Along with what this Leftist Rag of a newspaper tells me to do? I think not!

caruncula
caruncula

@quickdigits And I bet you still have your "glory suit" don't you? Does the robe still fit you? If not, Bannon has a closet full and I'm sure he can accommodate you. In fact, he's selling his full wardrobe so he can make ends meet!

Grob_Hahn
Grob_Hahn

@quickdigits It's a reflection of the typical assumption that "ALL" white people are racists.  Even though the KKK is like 0.001 of the population, "ALL" white people are suspect and yet, nobody calls this racism.  The clothing being called out here is an attempt to normalize hatred of average white guys even though most of them aren't racists and have no interest in the KKK.

Len96
Len96

Wouldn't that be profiling?

godoggo
godoggo

@Len96 /  Great point !!!  But GOD forbid you question a woman covered head to toe with black cloth...that looks like she's wearing a bookbag on her chest....chanting Alla Akbar.

You can go to jail for that as it would be considered a 'hate crime'.

creative
creative

"For many years, Fred Perry polos have been the preferred shirt for white nationalists".  Please, if you do not know what you are talking about, do not repeat what you read on VOX or some other hack site.  Fred Perry and Ben Sherman are British icons and make classic clothes.  Yes skinheads and mods wore these in the 60s, however, I am sure you don't know the difference in a skinhead and a nazi moron.  I love Fred Perry and Ben Sherman.  


Take a listen....Doe this sound like a racist anthem.  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3AbgBOcYHg



Please AJC, just stop...



weetamoe
weetamoe

The new fascists call themselves antifa, and their preferred fashion includes masks---while they break glass and set fires like the fascists of old and smash statues as a rehearsal for the book-burnngs to come.

Tealiban_Party
Tealiban_Party

The new fascists call themselves antifa (which stands for anti-fascism)?!?!?

Did you bother to think before you typed that?

NorwegianB
NorwegianB

@Tealiban_Party Dude, read 1984. Seriously. It predicted everything that's happening right now. And it explains perfectly why a fascist group would call itself anti-fascist.

weetamoe
weetamoe

@Alaspooryorick @NorwegianBlue @Tealiban_Party In the Orwell book of which you speak, "slavery is freedom" is like today's AJC ministry of information claim that fascism is antifascism  (antifa.) Maybe as a primer to 1984 you should read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language."

Papagrande
Papagrande

@NorwegianBlue @Tealiban_Party There's a parallel to be drawn between Nazi Party book burning and removing Confederate imagery. Neither philosophy will disappear because the "images" are destroyed.