Faschion: The Hues of Hate
“You think fashion’s your friend? My friend, fashion is danger!” — Flight of the Conchords
The ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville this August wasn’t just a crime against decency, morality, and the laws of peaceful protest. It was a crime against couture. News footage showed a muddle of clashing styles among the neo-Nazis. With so many polo tops and tiki torches, it was more like a frat party than the launch of a Brave New World.
What is today’s Race Patriot to do? You’ve assembled your paramilitary organisation and chosen a suitable name: The Iron Pepes or the Cuckbusters perhaps. You’re ready to take to the streets. But before you burn the books you have to have the looks. If history has taught us anything, it’s that if you want to be taken seriously as a mass movement of the Right, you’re going to need to dress your soldiers in identical coloured shirts.
But what colour is a 21st century Fuhrer to pick from? What is your alt-Right outfit saying about you? Let’s take a look back at the 1930s, the golden age of ‘faschion’, and see if any of the classic looks might suit an aspiring Il Duce and Gabbanna.
Timeless elegance, the chicest of the chic, militaristic minimalism for the masses. It’s no surprise that the blackshirt look originated in Italy, the fashion capital of the world. Mussolini’s trendsetting Blackshirts were established in 1919, imitating the look of Italy’s Special Forces squadrons, the arditi. They marched on Rome in 1922, took over the State, and immediately inspired a host of imitators.
The most famous of these was Oswald Mosley in the UK. Mosley had already tried his hand at being both a Tory and Labour MP before founding the British Union of Fascists in 1932. As a baronet, Mosley knew that clothes make the man, and he was a firm supporter of the British cotton industry. Initially, Mosley dressed his men in grey shirts with black trim, but then adopted a full black tunic based on gentleman’s fencing attire. Mosley glorified Blackshirt fashion as a rejection of ‘the detestable top hats and frock coats that symbolises a Victorian mugwumpery offensive to any decent Englishman’. In counter to this, H. G. Wells described Mosley as ‘dressed up like a fencing instructor, with a waist fondly exaggerated by a cummerbund and chest and buttocks thrust out’. Mosley’s men were undeterred, but soon Londoners were singing out ‘Mickey Mouse’ to Blackshirts as they passed.
For a year the British Blackshirts pretended to rule the streets, but when the 1936 Public Order Act banned political uniforms, the Blackshirts were reduced to flannel-and-tweed-shirts, and their allure faded. Mosley gave up his dreams of Dictatorship, and turned his attention to seducing his wife’s two sisters and their stepmother.
80 years later, is it time for the fascist movement to come back in black? Blackshirts are chic and slimming, flattering the middle-aged male demographic that will provide the bulk of your recruits.
On the downside, today’s fascists have been beaten to the punch by anarchist Black Blocs, ISIS militants and the United States police force. Brand differentiation is key to 21st century revolution, and when all your opponents have already adopted the Blackshirt, do you really want to be the last one at the party?
What can you say about the Nazi Brownshirts (AKA Stormtroopers AKA Sturmabteilung AKA the ‘SA’) that has not already been said? Initially a rabble of ex-soldiers for whom the Great War had just been too much fun to give up, the Brownshirts expanded until by 1933 there were over two million men singing ‘tomorrow belongs to me’.
The uniform itself was a form of austerity fashion. After Germany gave up its colonies in southwest Africa, the military found itself with thousands of brown tropical uniforms that nobody wanted. The Nazis snapped them up on the cheap, distributing them to SA thugs who then shivered through the winter in cottons designed for Namibia.
As the working-class Brownshirts began taking the ‘socialist’ aspect of National Socialism a bit too seriously, the Nazi leadership became paranoid. Rumours began that the organisation had been infiltrated by ‘Beefsteaks’ — secret (and probably homosexual) communists who hid their red allegiance beneath their brown uniforms. Hitler turned on his own followers and during the Night of Long Knives, the Brownshirt leadership was eviscerated.
Being murdered by the boss put a dampener on Brownshirt morale, and by the time WWII broke out, many had migrated to the army or the SS, where death-head iconography was the new avante-garde.
For today’s fascist, the time is probably not yet right for the Brownshirt look. 2017 is all about reassuring the sheep that you are not really Nazis and it’s all about men’s rights. Once you’ve seized the state then by all means, strap on the swastika and get ready to brawl in brown.
‘International Soldier of Fortune’ Art Smith wasn’t a trendsetter, but with fascism really taking off in 1933 he got on-board by founding the Khakishirts for Italian-Americans in Philadelphia.
‘Commander’ Smith was a true faschionista, who accentuated his own look with riding breeches, suede coat and a plumed headdress. Recognising the strategic importance of shirts, Art made an early play to take over the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union. Khaki shirts were cheap shirts, and once he had his own supply, Art was happy to sell them to his followers at very reasonable prices.
Art boasted that he had ten million men under arms, fully equipped with their own tank battalion, but the Khakishirts were unfortunately defeated in a South Philly street brawl with 150 communists. Regrouping, the Khakishirts planned a march on Washington for Columbus Day, but before their moment of victory, Art embezzled $25,000 of organisation funds and fled the scene. His betrayed and furious men then launched the only successful action in their long-planned overthrow of the state — storming and destroying their own offices.
Art was located and arrested shortly afterwards, his rise having proved very resistible. The police described Smith as a confidence man, and charged him with “running a shirt-selling racket”.
Unfortunately for khaki-fans, and we know there are many, the sorry tale of the American Khakishirts has forever tarnished this otherwise classic masculine look. Best avoided.
More of a proto-Fascist movement, the Yellowshirts were the paramilitary wing of The Black Hundreds, an early 20th century Russian ultra-nationalist movement that conducted antisemitic pogroms and terrorist attacks in the name of the Tsar, the Church, and the Motherland. Unfortunately for them, once Russia split between the Reds and the Whites in the Civil War (1917–1922), there was no more Tsar and no more space for Yellows.
Could yellow be the colour for you? It has its appeal, but with ‘yellow bellied’ a shorthand for cowardice, we can’t recommend mustering a mustard multitude.
Simply listing history’s Redshirts would take a book in itself, from Garibaldi’s freedom fighters to the Communist International to the contemporary Thai political movement. Unsurprisingly, given its strong, bloody aesthetic, the red shirt has also been favoured by fascists and ultra-nationalists in the past, such as the Mexican Red Shirt movement (1931–1935), which celebrated the death of Christ and liked blowing up churches.
The USA had its own home-grown Redshirts during the Reconstruction era. Based in the old Confederacy, the Redshirts were murderous white supremacists who described themselves as “the military arm of the Democratic Party” and used violence and terror against African-Americans. In 1876, Redshirts organised a torch-lit march through Charleston, South Carolina. You might think that a self-professed American terror organisation would have been suppressed, but it wasn’t, and you can still join the group and spend happy days conducting mock-trials of Abraham Lincoln.
Unfortunately, given all this history, there is just no space left on the palette for a new Redshirt movement. Redshirts’ allegiances are too confusing, and your men are liable to mistake each other for communists. Furthermore, after Star Trek, Redshirts have become synonymous with hapless cannon fodder, which isn’t the connotation you’ll want for your Homeland Heroes.
The Steelshirts (al-qumṣān al- adīdiyya in Arabic) set themselves up in Aleppo in Syria in 1930s, where they tried to import German fascism to fight against French colonial rule. Unfortunately, an ethos built on aryan nationalism had limited appeal to the youth of Syria, and the group wasted its energy in street-fights with sister fascists from the Order of the White Badge.
Should you drape your Crusaders in steel? After all, if you’re taking your nation back to the glorious past, why not go all the way to the Middle Ages? However, even in more temperate climates than Syria, steel activeware comes with risks. If you’re planning lots of rallies and marches, you might want to leave the chain-mail at home. Heat-stroke can be more silent and deadly than George Soros.
Half a decade before Superman hit the press, the Silver Legion of North Carolina were breaking new ground with their boy-scout meets superhero aesthetic. Wanting the world to see how fascism could be fabulous, the Silvershirts combined silver short-sleeves with blue hats and ties, puffy trousers, and a large scarlet L emblazoned on their breast pockets. The L stood for LOYALTY, LIBERATION and LEGION.
The Silvershirts were founded at the moment peak fascist excitement in 1933 by successful screenwriter and novelist, William Pelley. Pelley knew his pulp writing and even had his own superhero origin story, retold in his book, ‘My Seven Minutes in Eternity’.
According to his book, by 1927, ‘making money had lost its zest’ for Pelley, who retired to his mountain bungalow with his faithful dog. But after suffering an apparent heart-attack, Pelley found himself ‘plunging down a mystic depth of cool blue space’ into a Higher Realm, where spiritual mentors bathed him in magic water and urged him to remake America in the name of Jesus the Christ.
Pelley returned from this ‘Ecstatic Interlude’ with mystical powers of perception and prophecy. Now in the guise of the Silver Crusader, Pelley grew a Dr Strange goatee, sewed himself the shirt, and launched a run for President. Thousands joined the cause, charmed by Pelley’s vision for a future where Christian Americans returned to the land and Jews, immigrants and atheists were physically walled-off in the big cities.
Mystically sensing his power waning by 1940, Pelley rolled the dice with a big move. He made a dramatic and unexpected appearance before the House of Unamerican Activities Committee, announcing his intention to become Dictator of the United States. Rather than bow to their new overlord, Government officials charged Pelley with sedition and packed him off to a maximum security prison, at which point the remaining Silvershirts disbanded.
Pelley apparently left our mortal earth in 1965. But if this argent agitator is looking down from his Higher Realm, he can take comfort in the fact that his prophecy of a divided America has pretty much come true.
Should the silver shirt make a resurgence? It’s certainly tempting, but in this era of Marvel reboots, there is a risk of superhero fatigue among the young male population you are trying to inspire. Adopt this heroic style at your own risk.
Not to be confused with A Game of Thrones’ city watch, the Goldshirts (or Camisas Doradas) were Mexico’s most notorious response to fashionable fascism. Founded in 1933 by a retired general, the Goldshirts were more reactionary than revolutionary. They spent their time riding around on horses, complaining about the reformist President Lázaro Cárdenas, and scuffling with communists. Trying to define racial purity in a nation as multicultural as Mexico was never going to be easy, but the Goldshirts were finally able to agree that the Jews and Chinese should definitely be out.
As you’re putting together your movement for the common volk to triumph over the decadent elite, the gold shirt might be considered a tasteless choice. It’s also the most expensive uniform on this list. Avoid.
Chic in cerulean, Blueshirt fascists blitzkrieged the sidewalks in the early 1930s, but, alas, they did not live up to their initial promise. Romanian Blueshirts exhausted themselves in sartorial conflicts with their Greenshirted counterparts, the Portuguese Blueshirts lasted only two years, the Egyptian Blueshirts were gone by 1937, and the less said about the Canadian Blueshirts the better.
The Irish Blueshirts started with enthusiasm in 1933, but suffered from the fatal flaw of doing what they were told by the Government. Banned from marching on Dublin they fell into a sulk. Some of them tried disguising themselves as ‘Greenshirts’ for a second march, but the authorities were not fooled. 700 Irish Blueshirts then sailed to Spain to offer their military expertise to General Franco. After watching them fight, Franco declined the offer of a second round of Irish volunteers.
In China in 1932, a Blue Shirt Society was set up as a secret clique within the Kuomintang, with the plan to defeat the Japanese and reform China along fascist lines. Founding member Liu Jianqun ordered that all Blueshirts keep their membership a secret, while simultaneously wearing the blue shirt of allegiance. After it was pointed out that the uniform might detract from the secrecy, it was agreed that the group would wear imaginary blue shirts instead.
Let’s be honest, the reason nobody has heard of the Blueshirts is that these were all second-rate fascist movements. Today’s Mosley a la Mode doesn’t want to be tarnished with the blue brush. Leave the denim for a country-and-western festival.
The favoured colour of the Brazilian Integralists (1932–1938) and the Romanian Iron Guard (1927–1941). The Iron Guard interpreted the teachings of Jesus by skinning people alive, and boasted that they were ready to face death for their faith. That was convenient, because in 1941 they were purged by the Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu.
Cultural signifiers change, and this look that once roared ‘Imperial Military Chic’ has now been watered down by girly-environmentalism. You’ll probably be street-fighting with Greens before too long, and it’s going to be chaos if everyone is dressed the same. Greenshirts are a firm No.
We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but the Greyshirts were the paramilitary wing of the South African Gentile National Socialist Movement, set up in 1933. The movement as a whole never got much above 2000 members, and after being taken to court by a local Rabbi, its leaders were jailed for forging anti-Semitic propaganda. An unimpressive tenure.
It’s got to be a No to the Greyshirt as well — you’ll either look like a dirty Ku Klax Klanner or a half-hearted SS Stormtrooper. Total commitment to violent revolution cannot be achieved in wishy-washy uniforms.
Although trialled by the Ku Klux Klan, the Aussie ‘New Guard’ and a failed ‘Whiteshirt’ movement started out of Chattanooga by a PE instructor and a bankrupt grout inventor, the Whiteshirt look has never been popular. There are obvious reasons for this. Your movement is all about the Blood and Soil, neither of which mix well with clean linens. Avoid at all costs.
It seems like none of the classic shirt movements quite fit today’s fascist. If you’re a fan of the current President of the USA, the Orangeshirt is a way of paying tribute, but it could be a mistake to build your thousand year reich on a man likely to be out the door in twelve months.
Another possibility, given the international brotherhood that is contemporary white nationalism, is to combine all the traditional styles onto one shirt. A rainbow parade would be the perfect way to pay tribute to these glorious ancestors, and you would have the added benefit of looking fabulous.
Finally, you could go all the way to the source. Faschion takes its name and ethos from the fasces, a bundle of sticks used symbolically in the Roman Republic. One stick can be snapped, but combined they are unbreakable. Scour away two thousand years of decadence and you’ll find yourself properly dressed to impress, ready to win over the middle-ground and, truly, march in triumph.