El Chapo: Drug Lord, Prisoner & Style Icon?

Photo: FREDERIC J BROWN/AFP/Getty Images.
Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera has made a name for himself as the boss of one of the biggest and most brutal Mexican drug cartels. His photo was splashed across newspapers around the world after his daring escape down an engineered tunnel last summer, but few would have ever thought it would be his fashion choices making headlines.

Sean Penn's interview with El Chapo, who was recaptured earlier this month after escaping from prison, was notable for a number of reasons. People speculated about whether Penn's interview, conducted last October and published last week in Rolling Stone, helped lead to Guzmán's capture. But one thing most people didn't predict was the effect El Chapo's wardrobe choices would have on the general public.

In the Rolling Stone photo of Penn and Guzmán, the cartel leader is wearing a shirt from Barabas, a U.S.-based clothing brand. After El Chapo's interview and photo were published, the brand decided to capitalize on the publicity. Barabas shared the image of El Chapo wearing the shirt on its website, along with the caption "Most Wanted Shirt." The shirt is available for $128.

Barabas also created a Facebook contest based on the "celebrity" endorsement. They are offering users the opportunity to win one of the two shirts El Chapo wore (in addition to the blue top in the Rolling Stone photo, Guzmán was also spotted in the brand's "Crazy Paisley" shirt) if they liked Barabas' social media pages.

"It was a very surprising, extremely busy, and at the same time, very difficult week for us," Barabas spokesperson Tatiana Kivachook told Refinery29. Kivachook explained that while the company is experiencing a surge in online orders, Barabas has also been overwhelmed with customer demand, which caused order delays and website crashes for the company.

Kivachook also told Refinery29 that Barabas is now fighting the idea that the company supports drug trafficking. In response, Barabas is donating 5% of proceeds from the El Chapo shirt sales to D.A.R.E., a nonprofit organization that works on drug prevention.

As for El Chapo himself, he's traded paisley for prison stripes — he's back in a Mexican prison and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges, BBC News reports.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 15. It has been updated with a statement that Barabas provided to Refinery29.

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