As we’re sure you’ve heard, it looks like notorious escaped-then-captured-then-escaped drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán may be prosecuted in Brooklyn if extradited to the United States. But what’s a hipster fanboy to wear when visiting him in the slammer? Obviously, one of these El Chapo t-shirts, now on sale at Fresthetic in East Williamsburg. Yes, that’s everyone’s favorite cocaine cowboy, looking stoically determined to evade those menacing helicopters but also maybe looking at that old burner phone and the very colorful Mexican flag? Such a mysterious guy. Then there’s a collage of guns, hundos, and, naturally, plenty of drugs. It’s like an El Chapo starter kit.
The shirt, entitled “Illegal Life/El Chapo”, was designed by Carlos Maldonado, founder of Brooklyn-based apparel manufacturer Classic Material NY. He made it after getting a number of requests for the drug lord’s likeness. “The thing with El Chapo was that everyone was coming to me to design a shirt with him on it, but I didn’t want to,” Maldonado said, explaining that he didn’t “want to glorify him per se.”
However, since he did a t-shirt featuring Pablo Escobar about six years ago, Maldonado eventually conceded to do a Chapo shirt, provided that it have the proper “feel.” In addition to the shirt, he also created El Chapo snapbacks.
“I thought [the image featured on the shirt] was a better image of him than the other ones I had seen,” he said. “That one was more street, with the drugs, the money, the guns, and the bullets. I try to keep it as authentic as possible.” The news of El Chapo’s possible trial in Brooklyn makes the release of the shirts all the more serendipitous. “Now it coincides with what I’ve been doing, so it worked out!”
As of now, Maldonado sells his creations online and at Fresthetic, which started carrying the shirts for $34.99 about two weeks ago. Omar Cordero, the owner of the shop, said they’re selling very well so far. “Chapo is Chapo,” he said, referring to the drug kingpin’s appeal.
“He’s like the new Scarface,” Maldonado added. However, he’s not planning on creating more merchandise, even with El Chapo’s potential move to the borough. “I don’t want to be a Chapo groupie.”