( ENSPIRE Fashion ) White Supremacy Has A New, Not- so – New Style: Polos and Khakis
By ENSPIRE Contributor: Cindy Le
The image we most associate with angry neo-nazis and white supremacists rallying in America is one of hooded Ku Klux Klan members. We think of people who hide their faces behind masks and hoods. We think of long white robes, and torches. We instinctively connect these people and their outright racism and prejudice as something of the past, something that happened eons ago that progressive, modern America does not tolerate any longer. The recent “Unite the Right” rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia came across as something ‘alien’ to many Americans who were dumbfounded and speechless by it. The new white supremacists were chanting “Blood and Soil”- imitating the old Nazi saying “Blut and Boden” implying that the land of America belongs to the racially pure of blood. Other remarks were of anti-semitic nature, chants such as “JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE US!”. Former KKK member David Duke, said in a press release that these marchers were rallying to ‘fulfill the promises of Donald Trump’ to ‘make America great again’. However, there is more that unites these racially biased neo-nazis than their love for Donald Trump, their skin color, and their extreme beliefs- their fashion.
While watching the rally and seeing protesters in their new, not-so-new uniformity in fashion style- simply put, polo shirts and khakis (and the occasional swastika). There is a RICH history to this deliberate style and outfit choice, dating back to the early 1800’s, where it was the favorite go-to of upper-class elite men who belonged to exclusive institutions (Harvard and Yale) that kept Jewish men out. However, Jewish immigrants and designers soon popularized this aesthetic in the late 1800’s. Hence, the need for this new generation of white supremacists to all wear the same outfit while chanting how semites cannot replace them.
One of the most intimidating factors about these young college kids with tiki torches is the psychological reasoning behind their outfit choice. When we see a guy in polos and khakis, we see our average joe. It’s normal attire, it’s common attire. It’s a school uniform, it’s a work outfit, it’s casual to us. It’s Normal. White supremacists bold-faced and shouting about how the land of America belongs to them and how minorities should be gone superimposed with a polished, clean cut aesthetic facilitates in normalizing what they are doing and what they stand for. It is manipulative, it is conniving, it is smart.