Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is one of the most controversial public figures of the century. Many citizens and political leaders alike trash Julian as an arrogant man whose leaks of governmental secrets have resulted in the deaths of many innocent people due to comprised national security. For millions of others, Assange is a bastion of truth, freedom and democracy — representative of the ideals that they hope will drive the future forward. But Julian’s newest venture doesn’t have much to do with exposing the truth, in fact it has a lot more to do with concealing it. After being detained for months in the London Ecuadorian embassy, Assange is set to launch a fashion line in India, reported The Times of India.
Julian’s design ideas thus far leaked to the public aren’t going to do him many favors with those who accuse him of narcissism — the clothing will feature an idealized rendering of his face in the style of South American revolutionary Che Guevara. Assange should perhaps take note of how the commercialization of Che’s image was controversial amongst his followers — not mention the fallout from critics of Guevara’s violent techniques when the shirts became popular.
Assange’s likeness on a T-shirt is likely to incite much of the same divineness. Santosh Desai, a New Delhi brand expert, expressed concerns that a similar problem could play out with Julian’s apparel, reported The Times of India.
“WikiLeaks and Assange are great brands. But don’t you think that trying to monetize them will defeat the whole ideology of what they stand for? To be successful, they will need a very focused approach.”
While Julian is extremely well-known the in the United States due to his antagonistic relationship with the American government, Olafur Virnir Sigurvinsson, a representative of Assange’s Wikileaks, is confident that India will be a successful test market for Julian and other Wikileaks garb.
“India is one of the countries where awareness about WikiLeaks is the highest and Julian is excited about the proposition.”
In addition to opening operations in India, Wikileaks has locked negotiations with France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. Outside of Assange’s face, the clothing will be emblazoned with slogans associated with Wikileaks like “Leaks Exposing Justice” or “Enemy of the State.” Because Wikileaks runs strictly on donations, the profits will be used to finance Julian’s organization, which has no doubt racked from up hefty legal fees from Julian’s court battles over the last few years. Extradition attempts for pending sexual assault cases in Sweden have reduced Julian Assange’s public persona to telecommunicated interviews, one of the most recent of which appeared on Telesur.
[Image via Flickr]