Legalization by Commodification: The (Ir)relevance of Fashion Styles and Brands in Street Gangster Performance

  • Elke Van Hellemont
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Risk, Crime and Society book series (PSRCS)


Throughout the history of gang ethnography, particular dress codes and fashion styles have always been perceived as representations of gang culture. However, since its beginning, many young men enjoyed gang fashion without ‘being’ a gang member. Today, an ever-growing global fashion industry transforms street styles into commodities which are sold to and consumed by a much wider audience than ‘the streets’ inhabitants. This endows street styles, and in this chapter gang fashion, with a semantic ambiguity. While keeping its criminal connotations, gang aesthetics are normalized in the commodification process. This process enables, for instance, consumers of gangsta rap to enjoy gang fashion, but the semantic ambiguity also renders ‘true’ gangster performance more difficult.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke Van Hellemont
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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