Fascist fashion items can help promote and provide funds for extremist groups. In some instances, it appears, their sale relies upon key services provided by prominent businesses that have policies against promoting racist organisations and hateful content.
An investigation by Bellingcat has found that a number of far-right and neo-Nazi online stores are openly utilising the infrastructure provided by major payment processors, commercial content management systems and web domain registrars.
Bellingcat was also able to establish that some far-right web stores appeared to be purchasing garments from wholesale manufacturers, whose charters celebrate diversity and equality, before embossing their own hateful messaging onto the clothing and selling it at a profit.
Some of the far-right sites could even be seen using mainstream social media platforms to promote links to their own online shops and those of their far-right allies.
Illustration: Ann Kiernan
Several groups studied by Bellingcat maintained Instagram pages that were carefully curated to stay within the boundaries of the platform’s rules. However, some of these accounts linked out to Telegram channels and web stores where the same groups were promoting and selling fashion items that depict Nazi and racist symbols.
Other items of clothing visible in far-right online stores showed more subtle or coded references to fascism and Nazism, such as the coordinates of a castle used by prominent Nazis during World War II.
T-shirts sold by the European Brotherhood. On the right, the coordinates point to Wewelsburg castle, a spot considered important by many neo-Nazis.
The above T-shirts, for example, were being sold on a site that was hosted by GoDaddy, which has previously spoken out against racism and homophobia.
Other far-right websites, meanwhile, appeared to offer buyers the opportunity to pay for goods using payment processing platforms such as Payops, Nets Easy, MolliePayments, Bungeecolud and Paysera.
A screen grab from Whois.com which shows European Brotherhood website hosted by GoDaddy.
Numerous far-right and neo-Nazi organisations have taken to raising cash and spreading each other’s brand names by hawking a variety of clothing and merchandise in recent years.
According to Dr. Hans Jakob-Schindler from the international policy organisation, Counter Extremism Project, far-right webshops are “one of a range of methods by which the overall movement is financing itself.”