Narco Polo Ralph Lauren Knock-Offs Become Fashion Trend in Mexico

Michael Santo's picture

Inspired by seven high-ranking Mexican drug traffickers who were arrested over a three-month stretch, all of whom wore open-neck, short-sleeved jerseys with the familiar horseman-with-a-stick emblem of Ralph Lauren, a new fashion craze is sweeping lower-class areas of Mexico: Narco Polo.

Narco refers, of course, to Mexico's drug wars as well as the high-profile and high-level drug traffickers that have recently been arrested. Polo, of course, refers to the polo shirt, and Ralph Lauren in particular.

One of the biggest Narco traffickers was "La Barbie." An iconic image of him shows him wearing a green Ralph Lauren Big Pony polo with "London" emblazoned on the front. That model is available for $125 on the Ralph Lauren website.

Demand is high, but of course the versions that are being sold by street vendors are cheap knock-offs. MSNBC reported on a Mexico City street vendor named Felipe. He stocked several colors of polos, and nicknamed them based on the drug lord who was caught while wearing that color of Narco Polo.

Pointing to a blue shirt, he said "This is the 'J.J'," referrring to Jose Jorge ("J.J.") Balderas, who allegedly dealt drugs and shot soccer star Salvador Cabanas in the head. Pointing to a green one, he mentioned "La Barbie," who as indicated above, was caught in a green version. In reality, "La Barbie" is U.S.-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal. These shirts, unlike the real deal, cost a mere $13.50.

A number of knock offs can be found on MercadoLibre, itself sort of a knock-off of the popular auction site eBay. One seller has a shirt he claims is “exactly the same as La Barbie.” The image he uses to advertise the shirt is of "La Barbie" wearing it at the press conference of his arrest.

In fact, it appears that "La Barbie" was the only drug trafficker captured so far who was wearing an official Ralph Lauren Big Pony shirt. The rest of them seem to have been wearing cheap clones of the $98 - $125 shirts.

Why such emulation? Sinaloa Gov. Mario Lopez Valdez put it succinctly: "Now you see how these shirts like La Barbie's have become the fashion. I think we have to close off everything that promotes criminal behavior. Many young people want to emulate them [traffickers] as idols in some way ... and they want to be drug traffickers. And there are a lot of young girls who want to be the girlfriends of drug traffickers."

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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