In honor of Fashion Week, Freakonomics would like to shine a light on a fashion trend happening south of the border in Mexico. We’ve covered the copyright battle over red-soled shoes, but today we’re focusing on Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal, the alleged drug cartel boss who was arrested last year.
Though indicted on charges of trafficking thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico into the United States, Valdez’s fondness for Ralph Lauren Polo shirts has created a major fashion trend in Mexico: the Narco Polo. From a recent Rolling Stone article:
In fact, the myth of Barbie looms so large in Mexico that his addiction to the shirts started what’s known as the Narco Polo trend, with working-class Mexicans clamoring to buy knockoff versions in street stalls. “These shirts like Barbie’s have become the fashion,” Mario López, the governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, told reporters in June. “Many young people want to emulate men like him as idols.