• Sasquatchfabrix S4 pyjama look
  • Pleats Please roses
  • Karaoke dunce cc @tommyton @Steve_Salter @junsukeyamasaki @mrstreetpeeper @rila_fukushima
  • Karaoke Queens @mrstreetpeeper @rila_fukushima !!!
  • Hiding in plain sight @craigandkarl X @lespecs_eyewear #sakura

In the spirit of questioning ethics or at least making a “half-arsed” attempt to probe and point the finger, I’ve got a bit of a Freaky Friday oddity on my hand.  Whilst browsing around the weird and wonderful wares of Harajuku’s Dog, I came across the name Tony Alamo.  Oooh, spray painted and diamante-encrusted denim jackets in a sort of theme-y Nudie Cohn vein.  A quick search on Etsy and eBay yields more examples of “The Tony Alamo of Nashville – For Designers for the Stars” – mostly denim jackets, intricately spray-painted and adorned with crystals.  They’re the sort of eighties   On Google though, the name Tony Alamo yields something far more alarming.  Forgive me on the count of ignorance on religious cult leader convictions in the U.S.A. but it turns out Alamo’s is prominent for being convicted for multiple counts of rape and sexual assault of minors, abusing his position as founder of the cult Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.  Alamo’s business of “Tony Alamo” branded sequinned denim jackets, later called “Tony Alamo of Nashville” was a surprising sideline to him and his wife Susan’s syndicated TV sermons – it adds a whole new spin to the word “cult”, when we used lightly in the context of fashion.  Eventually, the business was convicted for federal tax evasion in 1994 and of course, later Alamo’s other atrocities came to light and he is now currently serving out a life long prison sentence.  A fascinating article on the LA Times written in 1989 when Alamo was already on the run from arrest for felony-child abuse.  At one point, total sales of Tony Alamo jackets were anything from $500,000 to $1 million.  Whilst on the run, he took the time to be interviewed to say that he would send in sketches from his hide-outs, faxing them through – “Everything I do is a work of art.”  Interestingly, even as the charges against him were surfacing in the public, the stores still bought into them, apparently unable to resist their allure and their celebrity-endorsed cachet (Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Dolly Parton were Alamo fans), with only a handful of stockists pulling out.

It’s a sordid tale with a strange after trail of vintage specimens, that have since graced the likes of Nicky Minaj and Miley Cyrus, who in December last year was spotted wearing a Tony Alamo ensemble with Beverly Hills emblazoned across the back.  It’s unlikely Cyrus was aware of the origins of her spangled denim but it’s also hard to say whether the association would make it less or more appealing for her.  Weirdly, nobody else seems to care.  According to Miami legendary vintage store C. Madeleine, you can Shop This Look without any mention of Alamao’s past, and that there’s even a collectible value attached to Alamo’s pieces, because of his imprisonment.  The moral question behind even considering Alamo’s pieces as a fashion choice has one clear answer.  Especially when you read the slightly ludicrous statements like this, as seen on this fashion blog “You may find yourself asking, who is Tony Alamo anyway? Well on top of being a cult leader and a maker of awesome jackets, he is also a child sex offender! Neat-o!”  Neat-o wouldn’t be my first word of choice, but hey-ho, guess a convicted child sex offender and rapist isn’t exactly a shocking exception in a world when seemingly, entertainers offending in plain sight, are all coming out of the woodwork.

But why bother dwelling on this random defunct fashion line, you might ask?  Fashion has a long history of aligning itself with the debauched and the morally questionable.  A figure like Tony Alamo might well find itself on to a moodboard as a offbeat reference point.  It’s an industry that also unconditionally protects people like Terry Richardson (although it has to be said in the eyes of the law, he hasn’t committed a crime).  Only a handful have challenged this status quo, best summed up by this Hadley Freeman article.  She’s right – creepiness shouldn’t be confused with edginess even when the lines are increasingly blurred.  That applies to seemingly harmless ironic/cool/retro denim jackets.

talamo1

talamo2

talamo3

talamo4

talamo5

talamo6

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

talamo8

talamo9

talamo10

talamo11

Comments (41)

  1. WOWS says:

    Awesome jackets!!!

    Kisses from http://www.withorwithoutshoes.com

    Today I bring you a Casual but Chic outfit with plaid pants!!
    Giveaway – Renew your closet with these 2 prizes of $100

  2. TLV Birdie says:

    WOW
    I would wear americana one or Beverly Hills, I mean right now!

    Olya
    TLV Birdie Blog

  3. That jackets are absolutely fab! Will definitely be dragging my vintage levi’s denim jacket out again!

    Charli xx

  4. chanelle says:

    the jackets look really cool!!

    fashionandleatherblog.co.uk

  5. Impressive look!!! I feel boring with my vintage dress lol

  6. Ahhh,so sweet, this got me nostalgic!

  7. Queen Michelle says:

    PLEASE tell me all of the above comments are deeply sarcastic?!! “Wowzers I’d totally wear these cool jackets by a fucking child molester” Jesus wept….

  8. Anastasia says:

    Interesting find. In all aspects of artistic creation there are similar paradigms where highly questionable figures blur the lines of ethics and art. And while it’s a common social phenomenon to overlook these behaviors and reach straight to praise, it’s a mystery to me how one can make this illogical jump. The same things that condemn some people can elevate others’ work to high art. And another point I think is worth discussing is the fact that the latest obsession in fashion are “ethical” materials, artisan methods and environmentally sustainable choices while we can be so blind over the “creepiness” factor.

  9. Steff says:

    Obviously too many people visit this blog to look at pictures and not read. Which is a shame, since this is about the meatiest fashion blog around, word-wise. Sigh.

  10. echeveau says:

    Wow suji fashion sense very Amazing! !
    Jacket very good i long time it eye on

  11. Charlotte says:

    Perhaps a less tainted denim artist to bring attention to would be Leslie Hamel, who famously decorated a pair of cut off Levis’ worn by Madonna. She nails the 90′s graffitied denim aesthetic also

    http://madonnalicious.typepad.com/madonnalicious/auctions/

  12. Alexander says:

    absolutely fabulous…love the Tokio jacket

  13. NadiaJoy says:

    It would seem lots of people simply look at the pictures on this blog as many of the above comments seem to COMPLETLEY MISS THE POINT OF THIS POST. Shame, because you deal with the issue extremely eloquently!

  14. DinoB says:

    Dear Susie,

    I was in the middle of your article, few people came into my mind, so I thought to myself – why does Vogue hire one-step-to-pedophile people like Richardson to take thought-out yet amateur looking photos? Or why do millions of people (including myself) love creepy old movie directors that have inappropriate love relationships with young girls like Woody Allen? I don’t know honestly…
    Sometimes it feels like art annul crimes or bad history, like people remember only when it’s ‘relevant’ in their own little minds…

    But the case you’re talking about, Tony Alamo’s denim jacks, is more of a ‘crime makes them even more famous’ case… That’s more due to the global love of Geordie/Jersey/Gandia and other banks & beaches and likes of horror movies – crime & irrational stuff is considered fun(ny) and intruiging.

    xx d.

  15. Angie says:

    It´s admirable that every post and every offer you get, fits perfectly to your style, dude. Crazy jackets, I think I´m not that brave to wear this, especially here in Germany. xx

    Comme une giroflée

  16. Rowena says:

    Grim. A good example of when clothes are not just cloth.

  17. Rowena says:

    Did someone actually use the word “sweet”??!

  18. Doc Blue says:

    These comments are hilarious. As far as the jackets themselves go . . . couldn’t make something similar yourself? And even if you couldn’t, it doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to find something similar on etsy. Looks like the most difficult part would the spray painting . . .

  19. INTIRA says:

    I didn’t visit your blog for a while Susie -_-” Really surprise to see you on Nowmanifest. That’s great, but I miss the original platform..Anyway,your posts are awesome ! The jeckets are super cool! I love them :) xo

  20. Disturbing how many of the commenters don’t seem to have read the article, or even worse, have read it and don’t care.

    • stylebubble says:

      Boo to comments that are just there to promote their own blogs/links. Oh well, at least SOME people have read my post.

      • DinoB says:

        that’s just contributing to your article – wanting something just because it’s ‘sparkly’ and ‘cool’ without caring about its backgrond :)

  21. What to wear says:

    I learned so much from this post, cool piece of fashion back story.

    http://www.whattowearwheretobuy.tumblr.com

  22. The jackets are so vintage ! I love the Barbie one !
    Gaela from Wallapop

  23. Tosin says:

    This is a really great piece. It actually made me think about all the times I’ve bought vintage pieces simply *because they look nice* without knowing anything about the labels behind them… That strikes me as being more of a reason for buying a Tony Alamo piece than a weird attraction to the creepy but edgy cult leader sex offender vibe (…?)

    Great read,

    Kisses

    Tosin (On Becoming a Lady)

  24. puherock says:

    està muy buena la idea de los dibujos pero què mal lo que hacìa en paralelo. greetings (=

  25. N Lynde says:

    This is such a thoughtful, well-written post, really questioning where we ethically draw the line on what we will put on our body. It’s a shame so many people didn’t take the time to properly read it. Personally, clothing, especially that which is handmade has an implicit relationship to the maker sewn in to it. Some of my favourite things are sewn, knitting, altered by others, and I don’t think I would feel right having supported the efforts of some one whose actions not only don’t agree with, but that are downright wrong.

  26. Haru Wilde says:

    I admire you now even more as a fashion journalist, because you have the guts (pardon my French) to speak out about this.
    I think the whole idea of ‘badness’ or decadence is largely glamourised in visual media, and a lot of people don’t realise that there is a difference between being ‘edgy’ and being a disgusting human being.

  27. Sophie says:

    Wow, this jacket is lovely!

    Please check out my own blog
    http://preppyrosefashion.blogspot.co.uk/

  28. Fantastic! Very nicely.

  29. mridula says:

    yes, the blurring of creepy and edgy is problematic. We need to develop a vocabulary to go after this blurriness, to sharpen our focus. Not all discomfort is the same.

Comment below