British tabloid The daily mail takes small arms fire for publishing a item headline: “These are the Taliban in fashion!” Young fighters accessorize their traditional clothing with their brand’s sunglasses, stylish sneakers and baseball caps, while also taking on Western clothing. Although the article took note of the brutal behavior of the new and old rulers of Afghanistan, the reporters woke up the Independent, Tutor and Politics criticized the very idea of referring to the world’s most notorious insurgent army wardrobe choices as “ridiculous”, a “blown piece” and “a horrible take”.
“Call me old-fashioned, but what stands out in the photos is not their fashion choices, but the fact that they are carrying MASSIVE WEAPONS,” the Politics mocked.
They are not looking for enough. If big guns defined the Taliban, I’d be more worried every time I saw heavily armed soldiers at Penn Station.
Fashion matters more than you think and less than the fashion industry knows. Meryl Streep is passionate storm in The devil wears Prada comes as close as possible to validating the socio-economic importance of the fashion industry. Call me 60% convinced; no one could have done better. Anyway, Taliban 2.0 clothing and accessories are anti-fashion. That’s why they matter.
“There is no easy way to describe the [anti-fashion] movement, ”writes the fashion blogger Mireya Perez. “Anti-fashion does everything that fashion doesn’t. It is a movement that goes against the grain. Fashion means. Anti-fashion followers reject what everyone takes for granted.
Americans don’t talk about the cultural and political battle raging across the world for the future, but people in other countries do. Modernizers want their country to look, look and function more like the United States and Europe: high tech, long hours, low pay, zero connections. Traditionalists reject modernization in the name of globalization. Fashion is an under-discussed barometer of this struggle.
There was a time, in the memory of Baby Boomers and Generation X (Millennials remember nothing), when the bold names in international politics groomed and dressed with contempt or utter contempt for a homogenized world. by Western fashions.
Scan group photos of world leaders attending conferences like the G20 or the UN and you’ll see many different ethnicities crammed into ready-made business suits. Women do not have a pass: business jacket over blouse, pearl necklace and large round gold earrings are the required uniform of 21st century of post-modern modernity. Almost alone, the Taliban oppose the trend.
Thirty or forty years ago, you could hardly shake a General Assembly without a bunch of nehru jackets, a esoteric scarf or one African animal print publication date. Aside from the Saudis and Pakistanis, sartorial diversity is as threatened as the cheetah. The bar scene at Star wars became after work at Hoolihan.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began his ten-year reign with the traditional mao jacket preferred by his father and grandfather, an easy-to-understand visual response to Western capitalist mores. Yet the baby-faced offshoot of dead-end Stalinism quickly brightened up the Mao cut with pinstripe fabrics. Now he has succumbed. He is wearing Western style business suits, but with a retro vibe. “Kim Jong Un has cool clothes,” raves fashionista Michael Madden. “If he was from America, he would be one of those guys we see in Portland, Brooklyn, one of those hipster guys.” The revolution will be accessorized.
Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the longest-serving pan-Arab and despot in Africa and the Arab world, followed his own path when it came to her wardrobe, donning a dazzling array of Dr. Evil costumes, Hawaiian shirts, kufis, and flashy military uniforms worthy of a Terry Gilliam movie. The way things are going, with even Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, assassin of journalists, ditching his dish for a business suit, there is no place for Gaddafi and his Tarentino-esque brigade of female bodyguards fighting kung fu (real name: The Revolutionary Religious). Had he survived to be exploded by an American drone and subsequently sodomized with bayonets, Gaddafi would probably be another striped face in the crowd of political pantyhose.
an American-homogenized world in an increasingly bland gloom, the combination of the victory of the Taliban over the most powerful empire in history and their stubborn refusal to change much about themselves, the anti-fashion of the Taliban does indeed matter. One of the most iconic images of the handover of power in Afghanistan was the photo of Taliban fighters gathered behind the president’s desk recently left by ousted US puppet leader Ashraf Ghani.
The contrast between the heavily armed combatants and the choreographed, television-ready corridor of power was stark; then the decidedly anti-Western clothing and turbans of the guerrillas were downright surprising. You are in power now. Where are your suit and ties?
The Taliban delivered a clear message: we are here, we have won, we are different and we may have won because we are different.