Imagine living in an area where wearing the wrong brand of sneakers could be fatal. Sounds crazy, right? For many Central Americans, this is everyday life.
According to an article from AFP, gang violence in the nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — often referred to collectively as the Northern Triangle — has become so bad that seemingly harmless style decisions can prove to be extremely dangerous.
"It's crazy. You can't wear this or that brand of sneakers because they are part of the style adopted by the gangs," a teenager said.
The issue here is that many criminal groups have adopted popular elements of street style, turning them into trademarks of gang culture. According to the article, brands like Nike, adidas, and Puma are especially risky, with the Nike Cortez and adidas Superstar models specifically being the most favored sneakers amongst members.
It doesn't stop at footwear, either, as a number of style trends that are commonplace in the States actually carry negative connotations in Central America. "You can't wear a baseball cap with the peak worn low, or behind, or on the side. Shirts can't be too big or too close to the body," a 22-year-old said.
And to think that we sometimes complain about having too many sneaker choices, SMH.