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The Gangs Issue

Dress The Part!

Rules, rules, rules. That's what gangs and cults offer their members. And that's what the members want. People who join gangs are looking for a family, which means they are looking for a mommy and daddy, which means they want to be told what to do.
VICE Staff
Κείμενο VICE Staff

Rules, rules, rules. That’s what gangs and cults offer their members. And that’s what the members want. People who join gangs are looking for a family, which means they are looking for a mommy and a daddy, which means they want to be told how to do everything, from whom to hate to where to live to what to drink to how to dress. Just look at how anal these guys get…

Illustrations by J. Penry

This is the cult that attacked the Tokyo subway system with deadly sarin gas in 1995, killing 12 and at least somewhat fucking up close to 1,000 commuters. Things are looser with these jokers since they’ve “turned a new leaf” and changed their name to Aleph, but if you want to look like an Aum monk or nun circa the halcyon sarin days, you’ll need a loose white tunic with a round collar, some matching yoga pants like leader Shoko Asahara’s, and a PSI (Perfect Salvation Initiation) unit to shock your brain waves into sync with the guru’s. Since the pants err on the side of no pockets, you may also want to pick up a nice, sturdy fanny pack to keep all your things in should they let you leave the compound with any of your belongings. If you want to go for the full Shoko look, make like the Angry Samoans and jam a fork in your eyes. The fucker’s blind.


Look, we can’t sum up the clusterfuck of doctrines that make up the Nuwaubians in a snappy little paragraph here. Just Google them and prepare to not understand a word of what you read. Chief Nuwaubian pederast Malachi York updated the Nuwaubian dress code shortly before being trucked off to jail. Gone are the days of elaborate dashiki and sash ensembles, as aped by none other than Afrika Bambaataa. To pass yourself off as a “with it” adherent to the Factology of York now, all you need is a loose black tunic (called a budlah), some comfy black pants, and a black fez—which you ought to wear at all times (even in court). Of course, you can still feel free to go nuts with the homemade Egyptian god costumes at parades and ceremonies. The Nuwaubians are one of the few groups that have loosened the rules, so it’s your call.

This one is simple: Blue pants, blue flannel shirt or team jersey (bonus points for a team with “C” in their name, like UNC), a blue bandana, a blue cap, and a pair of British Knights [aka “Blood Killers”]. Now go kill someone wearing red.

This Latino version of the Crips looks exactly like those little Homies figurines. All you need are some blue plaid shirts, blue baseball jerseys, and a blue bandana on top of boxy khaki pants worn high up around the waist (kind of like Ed Grimley). Their main sign is the number 13 for M (for “eMe”/“Mexican Mafia”), but they consider all odd numbers their own. To make sure your allegiances are straight, you ought to wear the back of your hair rounded off, and put three creases in the back of all your shirts (odd numbers, remember?).


Same as Crips but switch blue to red and British Knights to Chucks (because C stands for “Crip killer”). The whole Bloods vs. Crips thing bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches.

Men are supposed to wear dhotis (robes) over their kurtas (shirts), for women it’s saris (girl robes) over their cholis (girl shirts). Only married men wear the saffron robes. Everybody else is in all white and supposed to remain celibate. Both guys and gals wear necklaces made from tulasi wood (sacred to the Krishnas) and get up early to draw sacred markings in clay on their foreheads, arms, chests, and tum-tums. Men shave their heads except for a tuft of hair called a sikha, while women leave theirs long and just braid it (we wish they had a goofy name for it, but they just call it a braid). The sikha signifies single-minded devotion to the Krishna way.

Illustrations by J. Penry

The Yellammite look is basically just Krishna in drag. Take a brightly colored sari (don’t feel hemmed in by dull old white and saffron), smear some horizontal lines of vermillion and turmeric across your forehead, then go to town with the cowry-shell earrings, necklaces, and crowns. Once you look just enough like an ugly woman to raise doubts, balance a cowry-bedecked basket containing a statue of your goddess on your head and start acting really dirty in public. If a crowd of hissing women and shopkeepers gathers around you and starts throwing stones, you’ll know you’ve nailed it.


The dress code for your average AN member is black Dickies work shirt and pants, Docs with red laces, a military-issue nylon garrison belt, black clip-on tie, and patches with the sword-and-N emblem on the sleeves and tips of the collar. If you’re a guy your hair can’t be “effeminate.” If you’re a girl it has to be (but you’ve also got to braid it). To make the transition to the elite AN Guard, all you have to do is switch out the black shirt for security-guard blue and add one of those belts with the leather strap that goes over one shoulder.

This fucked-up Scientology splinter group may have bit the dust in the 70s, but their legacy of looking awesome will never die. Considering that the basic Process streetwear consisted of a black cape over a black turtleneck and pants, under long hair, beards, and a silver cross or pseudo-swastika amulet, how can you blame Manson for pretending to be a member? If you really want to blow out the King Diamond fashion jams, look up some photos of one of their services. Crazy red tunics and Goat of Mendes pendants abound.

These guys’ deal is black, white, and gray, so feel free to incorporate some Oakland Raiders shit into the mix even if you can’t name a single member of their team. You may also want to get tattoos on your torso and arms of some of their symbols, like the Star of David (its six points represent wisdom, knowledge, understanding, life, love, and loyalty), 360° (it represents the gang’s “full circle of knowledge.” Huh?), two crossed pitchforks, a winged heart (like in Nintendo’s Kid Icarus), and a devil’s tail. Or you could just smash them all into one omni-logo. Get ’er done!


How about some more Bloods? To look like a Latino Blood you’ll need to get decked out in red cholo-wear, wear saggy khakis off your ass, get tattoos of the number 14 (for N) or other even numbers, crease your shirt twice, get your hair tapered in the back… Are you picking up a pattern? Why can’t anybody come up with their own shit instead of just picking “not the other guys.” It’s like the definition of Canadian identity all over again. To be fair though, the NF didn’t rip off the Eme for the


-bird-and-star tattoo you get when you’ve killed somebody—they stole that from Cesar Chavez.

This mysterious Kenyan sect wants to live in a totally pre-Colonial way. That means not only “Fuck Christianity,” but also “Circumcise all women.”

To be an ideal Mungiki, you’d have to eschew all forms of Western dress in favor of traditional Kikuyu robes, but fortunately the only times most cult members care about this rule is when women break it. Then they get smacked around or, as we can’t stress enough, CIRCUMCISED. You can generally get away with just growing the dreadlocks and doing snuff out of ivory horns and forcibly stripping (or circumcising) any women you see in pants or short skirts.

There are only a few stragglers left who missed the boat back in ’98, but to blend in with the left-behinds, you’ll need a pair of baggy black pants and matching dress shirt (buttoned all the way up), a good unisexual buzzcut, and, if you’re a guy, you may want to look into castration. This’ll help you get used to the asexual life you’ll be leading as a spirit once the Hale-Bopp comet swings back by to pick you up. You should also acquire a pair of black-and-white Nike Cortezes, an “Away Team” patch for your shirt, and a purple silk shroud to cover the plastic bag you’ve wrapped around your face as a fail-safe for the poison.


To fit in with Farrakhan’s cronies you’ll want to look as neat as possible. For the ladies, this means a nice conservative dress in toned-down colors (not too tight) and an Erykah Badu-style head-wrap. For the fellas, a well-fitting suit and bow tie with short hair will do the trick. If you want to pass for one of the Reverend’s elite Fruit of Islam brigade, you’ll need to get your hands on one of their black bellhop-looking uniforms, a squat, cylindrical hat like French cops used to wear with the letters “FOI” across the front, and a red bow tie. Sunglasses might come in handy for carrying off the proper seriousness.

Illustrations by J. Penry

Time was you could just look like a long-haired stoner and be mistaken for a Mara Salvatrucha member. Nowadays it’s going to take a lot more effort. To start with, you should be sporting as much blue and white gear as possible (Honduras’s national colors). Next, proceed to cover as much of your body as possible in tattoos of the letters M and S, the number 13, daggers, crossbones, and dice. Include your face as part of the palette please.

Basically the Filipino version of the Bloods. They get question-mark tattoos (bahala na is the Filipino equivalent of que sera, sera, or “come what may”), and dress exactly like their black counterparts. Bahala Na was born in the jails of the Philippines in the 1940s, right after the hell of being occupied by Japan during WWII. For more on Filipino gangs, see Filipino Gangs.


All you have to do to pull this one off is take your standard long-haired biker look, add a huge swastika to the back of your vest or jacket (you can sub in an iron cross with the initials FTW in the top three arms if you’re a pussy), and be Puerto Rican. You can try to memorize the convoluted explanation they’ve got for how they’re really “taking the symbols back” from the Nazis, or you can just settle for getting their logo tattooed on your back and having several shared wives.

These Ugandan spazzes try to avoid talking just in case they break the commandment against “giving false witness.” The wardrobe for this cult depends on how high up you want to be in the hierarchy. New initiates wear a long black robe with a wimple, like a nun’s. Once you have “Seen the Ten Commandments” (read: given them all your money) you get to trade out your black robe for a green one, and once you graduate from there to “Ready to Die in the Ark,” you get a new green one with a white lining. To pass yourself off as a leader, you need an all-white robe, and a can of gasoline with which you can douse your followers before setting them ablaze.

These extreme Christians live as nomads, traveling the land, eating out of Dumpsters, and ranting about Jesus. In other words, they are bums. The only difference is that they think they have it all figured out.

So, if you want to be a Brethren, guys should don a drab-colored, knee-length tunic (be sure to put some slits up the sides for ease of bicycling, which they do a lot), grow their beards out, and keep the rest of their hair trim and neat. Girls should wear long-sleeved dresses that go down to their feet, even in summer, let their hair grow long, and never wear makeup, jewelry, or be in public without a male brethren. Otherwise, they are blasphemous whores who deserve to be date-raped by Satan himself.

All right, fuck this. There’s just too many Bloods. Why? Many gang experts speculate that their ubiquity may simply be due to the fact that red looks great and it goes with almost everything (except pink, which is for queers, and orange, which is for old ladies).

M.o.D. is a Hmong (Southeast Asian) gang based in Modesto, CA. They dress exactly like the real Bloods but are really into the number 301. Same with the Crip version. Same with the colorless version.

When compared to the Filipino Bloods, all the Hispanic Bloods, and even the original Bloods, the Hmong gangs get a zero for creativity.

Yes, that’s their name. Besides being the biggest, oldest, and toughest white gang in Chicago, the Almighty Gaylords don’t give a flying fuck if you think their name is fruity. First things first if you’re going to be a Gaylord: You’ll need a varsity-style sweater in the gang’s colors, blue and black. Get a longer one with a belt if karate’s more your vibe. Either way you should actually get two, one mostly black with blue trim for troublemaking and one mostly blue with black trim for partying. Don’t let anybody make off with the extra while you’re changing! Getting your sweater stolen is as bad as having your ass kicked, and often happens in conjunction with it. Feel free to deck out your sweat with patches of the Gaylord logo; giant, ornate crosses; or even flaming swastika-emblazoned skulls surrounded by Klansmen. If you don’t have enough room to fit something in, just include it on your gang business card, which you’ll be handing out to people to freak them out (no joke).

First off, you ought to be at least a little fat. Either that or the really turkey-necked kind of skinny where your shirt swings off you if there’s something in the chest pocket. From there you’ll need a good, broken-in pair of boots, a dusty pair of black jeans, some sort of torn-up vulgar t-shirt, then a vest and/or jacket in either leather or denim. The jacket or vest should bear the following patches: A big one of the winged-skull logo on the back with “Hell’s Angels” above it, your city below it, and a little “MC” to the right kind of like the trademark emblem; a diamond with “1%” somewhere on the front to indicate that you’re an “outlaw biker”; the word “Dequiallo” in gothic font to indicate that you’ve fought the pigs; and 666 for FFF or “Filthy Few Forever” if you’ve murdered. To add to the mishmash, you’ll probably want to get the following abbreviations tattooed somewhere on your person: AFFA for “Angel Forever Forever an Angel” and the numbers 8 and 1 for letters H and A.