BENGALURU: Half a century after Ernesto Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, was assassinated, he remains a symbol of rebellion in popular culture and fashion. His commodification, or rather that of his ideas of rebellion, are evident in merchandise stores, with his quotes splashed all over. But Fidel Castro? The architect of Cuban revolution does not find his picture printed on Tees, unlike Che.
Express spoke to some shop owners on Church Street on Saturday evening where youngsters mostly shop in Bengaluru, and they were unaware of Castro’s demise. Labamba Fashions in a basement on Brigade Road sells Che T-shirts and it takes around three months for the stock to be replenished. But once it comes, it is over in a blink.
Zuchair Sait (25), the owner’s son, says each T-shirt is `550 but hardly anyone knows what they are buying. “Most buyers in their 30s or 40s know who Guevara is. But those in their 20s don’t. They just think it is cool to own one. He’s a freedom fighter, we explain,” he said.
Sait did not know of Castro’s passing. When told, he responded, “Yeah, I know both Che and Castro were friends.”
Rajesh and Theja Harjani run Hysteria, a merchandise store on Church Street. Che is on a variety of merchandise here — keychains, bottles, sunboards, bandanas, cocktail shakers, beer mugs, water bottles, shot glasses, etc.
Rajesh worked in a Jamaican cigar club and so he knows who Che is, but did not know of Castro’s passing too. “We sell customised merchandise. Most youngsters confuse Bob Marley’s image with Che’s as both are printed on Jamaican rasta colours (red, green, yellow and black),” Rajesh says.
Che’s merchandise account for 5 per cent of his sales. Customers ask for Che’s picture to be printed on merchandise. It is unlikely that they will ask for Castro, he says.
Steve Beale, a staffer at the shop, thought it was Che who passed away on Saturday. He watches a lot of History Channel, he said.
However, he is quick to point out the kind of customers who know about Castro. “Those in their 40s who have watched Motorcycle Diaries or Godfather-II know about him,” he said.