As Russia launched its bombing campaign in Syria last fall, its military-industrial complex revved into high gear. Sailors ferried supplies from a port on the Black Sea to Russia’s base near Latakia, a Syrian city on the Mediterranean. State-run television pumped out breathless reports about the terrorist threat. Scores of soldiers and pilots mobilized.
So too did a small army of designers. A week after the first sorties, a new collection arrived at the defense ministry’s flagship Army of Russia boutique in central Moscow, with T‑shirts featuring Russian warplanes and slogans such as “Support Assad.” According to a popular Moscow blogger, the first batch sold out in a day.
Just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, the shop, which opened last summer, serves up army-themed threads for the patriotic fashionista, including chic interpretations of camouflage, combat boots, and pilot’s jackets. Kids can pick up one of five “polite people” action figures (that being the Russian nickname for the masked soldiers in unmarked uniforms who led the annexation of Crimea in early 2014). The store even has flash drives. One model is shaped like a tank; another, which a saleswoman described to me as “a more diplomatic option,” is a plain white rectangle stamped with the words army of russia.