Photo: Songs of the Drug Lord: "Narcocorridos" Impose Their Own Fashion Trends
Vinyl jackets and T-shirts with prints of rifles and skulls are some of the fashion statements being made by fans of “narcocorridos”: ballads about the lives, deaths and exploits of Mexican drug lords.
“This is the music I grew up with,” 19-year-old Steve Creci told Efe. He was wearing a vinyl jacket with a logo on the chest of two crossed M-16 combat rifles along with three skulls and the word Antrax (Anthrax).
Antrax, a new clothing brand especially designed for fans of Movimiento Alterado that Zuñiga wears because his narcocorrido idols do, is the creation of Eleno Jr. Serna, a native of Tijuana, Mexico.
Serna, 25, told Efe that one day his friends in the music group Fuerza de Tijuana asked him to design a wardrobe for their upcoming dance gig in San Diego.
Serna came up with some black shirts plus military-style vests with a lot of pockets and even a slot for a handgun.
“I made these shirts with military vests and they were crazy about them,” Serna said. “They started ordering more and more designs and it caught on - now tons of artists in the movement wear them and they’ve recommended me to boxers, racecar drivers and like that.”
His clothing line includes T-shirts with simulated bullet holes made with lasers, a skeleton wearing a Middle East headdress carrying an AK-47 assault rifle with Arabic letters in the background, and his most famous creation, the “El Padrino” (The Godfather) T-shirt that shows a face in high relief with the words “humilde, ranchero, millonario” (impoverished, rancher, millionaire). In the background, two skeletons point guns at each other.
The face of The Godfather has been compared to a photo published of Ismael Mayo Zambada, a top lieutenant of Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, though Serna insists he was not inspired by any drug trafficker in particular.
“I drew a gentleman and that’s all, someone who made money by working hard,” he said.
The T-shirts sell for between $30 and $80, and the vinyl jackets for around $100 - but the real profits come from a line called “Milicia Antrax,” which consists of military outfits like the kind Serna made for his friends of Fuerza de Tijuana.
His biggest hit has been “pecheras” - military vests full of pockets and compartments for carrying things like shortwave radios, guns and grenades.
Serna does a makeover of this kind of garment, making them more stylized, tight at the waist and decorated with appliques of vinyl, leather and glittery crystal, along with prints of motifs like guns, grenades, skulls, flowers and his own logo.
He even does a military vest with appliques of plaid cloth by England’s famous Burberry brand that is part of the collection dedicated to one of the most iconic singers of the movement, Alfredo “El Komander” Rios.
These vests sell for between $500-$800, but there are also exclusive, personalized designs with prices as high as $1,400.
Rafael Uribe Rodriguez, 19, has an Antrax vest that he wears to dances. His is black with a print of the brand logo, and at a concert he managed to get Rios to autograph it.
“In my house everyone listens to ‘narcocorridos’ - my parents, my uncles, my cousins,” he said, pointing at 13-year-old cousin Alvaro Uribe.
Rafael and Alvaro recently went to the Antrax store at a mall in Chula Vista to hear one of the their favorite groups, Clika Los Necios.
Rafael was wearing a T-shirt with a rosary whose beads were appliques of red crystals on the front, and on the back a print of an AK-47 assault rifle. The brand was El Cartel Clothing.
“My high-school friends ask me and I tell them that besides this brand of clothes there’s a lot of clothes like it in the streets and alleyways of Los Angeles - clothes with grenades, with rifles, with rosaries like this,” Rafael said.
The store in Chula Vista mall is the third Serna has opened in just a year. He also exports his styles to Mexico and Canada.
The clothes are made by a factory in Los Angeles and are distributed to his three stores in San Diego as well as the two in El Cajon and Sacramento, and is sold on the Internet at antraxclothing.com, which delivers anywhere in the United States and to other countries.
Asked about his profits, Serna laughs nervously and scratches his head.
“More than we expected, much more, I still haven’t closed this first year but everything I have has been sold - I’ve just sent an order to Canada,” he said.