Narco Style is what in popular imagination identifies drug
traffickers in northern Mexico. Is a mixture of many elements, some
of those are part of folklore or tradition of Mexico’s northern regions,
others come from global influences (big brands like Versace, for example) and
other from popular culture.
The mixture then is peculiar, but not necessarily reflects the current reality of
the drug traffickers nowadays. I mean, when drug cartels leaders have been caught, the news showed images of well-dressed young men as
students of expensive private schools.
Interestingly enough, the greatest exponents of what we call narco style are people who do not necessarily have any relation with drug trafficking. I’m talking about
musical groups, such as the very popular Tigres del norte.
However, if in Mexico you say “narcos”, people will automatically think of a flamboyant and brutal aesthetic, closer to what Versace used to propose in the
mid-90’s, mixed with typically northern items, like cowboy boots made of ostrich
leather, “piteado” belts (piteado refers to a traditional embroidery work done on
skin with natural fiber), hats and big jewelry.
That ostentatious aesthetic really exists. The Mexican army
has a museum dedicated inter alia to the weapons seized from drug trafficking.
In this collection there are guns coated with gold and diamonds or cell phones
embedded with precious stones.
Drug-related culture has its own codes, its own epic collected in the so-called
narcocorridos and even their own holy protectors. The two most important
are the Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde, a mythical and protective saint with
his own chapels and prayers.
The universe of the narcos is a world of danger and wealth, an adventure in
risking life where you can have everything, or you can lose your life. Or at least
that’s what Los Tigres del Norte sing in their corridos.