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El Chapo’s new clothing line will tunnel you out of fashion prison

El Chapo’s latest victims: Fashion victims.

El Chapo’s new clothing line will tunnel you out of fashion prison
El Chapo [Source Images: berry2046/iStock, STR/AFP/Getty Images]

Most famous prisoners parlay their notoriety into memoirs. But that would be far too prosaic for El Chapo. Nope, the famous chief of the Sinaloa Cartel will be spinning out a fashion brand from prison.

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No, this is not a joke. Last week, the New York Daily News reported that Chapo–who is also known as Joaquín Guzmán Loera–signed a contract giving the rights to his name and signature to a new company called JGL, LLC. In February, Chapo was convicted of trafficking, money laundering, and firearms possession that will likely result in a lifetime prison sentence. As a result, the new brand will be run by his stylish 29-year-old wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who regularly shows up at his court appearances with Prada bags and wearing Gucci belts.

Aispuro told the Daily News that the brand has been in the works for a long time, and the new line will bear the Chapo’s name and signature. She says the plan is to start with a line of caps, then to make clothes and jackets.

In some ways, the brand makes a lot of sense. Chapo has plenty of name recognition. Over the decades, he’s made headlines for growing a massive drug cartel, repeatedly evading the police, escaping prison, fathering at least 19 children with a half-dozen women, and all before turning 62. All of these ideas could be channeled into the fashion line, allowing consumers to appropriate some aspect of Chapo’s identity for their own purposes. They could wear El Chapo gear subversively, or ironically, simply because they think the line is absurd.

But there are plenty of unanswered questions. For one thing, it is illegal for the a criminal to profit off their own crimes, according to a law in New York State dubbed the “Son of Sam” law. Moreover, Chapo owes the U.S. government billions of dollars. So it’s unclear where the proceeds from the line will end up.

That said, prisoners frequently engage in work from behind bars, although in most cases, they earn only a pittance from their labors. Since 1934, the U.S. prison system has given inmates the option of developing vocational skills by manufacturing goods either for the U.S. government or for other third-party brands. Historically many of these products have been apparel-related. Prisoners have made clothes for the military, McDonald’s uniforms, Victoria’s Secret lingerie, and JC Penney jeans. In other words, there’s a possibility that you’ve already worn clothes made by a prisoner.

It’s unclear whether Chapo and Aispuro will shoot for elevated or more down-to-earth pieces for the line. Perhaps Chapo trucker hats will be interspersed with the sleek blazers that Aispuro is so fond of wearing. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for a first look at the collection.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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