Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, notorious for leading the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico and allegedly responsible for thousands of murders, has become a fashion trendsetter in the United States. Unfortunately.
It's not the kingpin's "soiled tank top look" that's garnering attention, as Slate points out, but his silk button-downs, made by Barabas, a Los Angeles-based store that apparently has no problem profiting off this kind of fame.
When Guzman was photographed for his Rolling Stone interview shaking actor Sean Penn's hand and wearing an eye-catching blue striped shirt, Barabas quickly seized the moment. It launched a promotion on social media, offering anyone who liked the store on Facebook or Instagram a chance to win a free "Barabas 'El Chapo' Shirt."
The whole thing was reminiscent of a 2008 parody, produced by 236.com, that imagined people copying the shirt worn by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, in a famous photo after his capture.
Barabas' effort worked. The store is currently sold out of the two styles worn by Guzman: "Fantasy," the blue-striped number, and "Crazy Paisley," which shows up in a video accompanying the Rolling Stone story. Each sells for $128, according to TMZ. A store manager told BuzzFeed News that she estimates a thousand shirts have been sold. The Barabas website has crashed and was still down at the time of this writing. Meanwhile, the store's Facebook page seems to be basking in the publicity.
It's not clear why people have rushed to buy the shirt -- to celebrate the man, to rejoice in his recapture, to prep for this year's Halloween costume or just to grab a bit of history. But would they have snapped up gloves if Isotoner had pushed the O.J. Simpson connection or filled their closets with some new line of gaudy sweaters linked to Bill Cosby? Why is the head of a murderous drug cartel somehow less objectionable?
Call it the darker side of capitalism.
Barabas' shirts are also for sale on Amazon, which recently took a rather different approach to products with an unsavory connection. Amazon donated the profits of an anti-Islam song to a group that supports refugees.
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