The jihadi gift shop in Istanbul

Joseph Dana visited the only known clothing store, located in the suburb of Bagcilar in Istanbul, which specializes in selling ISIS-branded merchandize: The idea of ISIS T-shirts shouldn’t actually be that surprising. For a terrorist organization hell-bent on creating a state based on a puritanical and bigoted form of Islam, ISIS has an incredibly savvy marketing and branding campaign. The group uses social media platforms, especially Twitter, to mold a specific media narrative and recruit funds, as well as fighters, from across the globe. Clothing targeting young men has come to be a central component of the group’s branding. By most accounts, the production and design inspiration of ISIS clothing stems from East Asia.

The Indonesian company Zirah Moslem has emerged as the world’s leading seller of ISIS merchandise. T-shirts are generally priced under $15 and, until recently, could be found on its Facebook page. Before Facebook removed the page for violating its terms of service, Zirah Moslem had more than 9,000 likes. The company still sells clothing on its website and likely acts as a wholesaler to smaller operations around the world, like Istanbul’s Islami Giyim. While it might be easy to buy ISIS T-shirts and other articles of clothing online, to date Islami Giyim is the only brick-and-mortar establishment to receive any press.

The popularity of ISIS clothing — most notably T-shirts emblazoned with the group’s initials flanked by AK-47s — demonstrates the next phase of ISIS’s international branding campaign. Islami Giyim’s Facebook page already has 6,400 likes and prominently displays a variety of ISIS-related clothing items. Without revealing exact sales figures, the store’s owner said that business was good. So good, in fact, that he plans to open more locations throughout Istanbul in the coming months. [Continue reading…]

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