It should be noted that gang members often wear clothing that is currently popular among juveniles in general. The wearing of the clothing that is described in this section does not automatically make that person a gang member. However, a combination of the clothing worn, along with a certain color scheme or the manner in which the clothing is worn can indicate membership in a gang. As gang members find out what clothing is becoming too noticeable to people, they may change what they wear. What is fashionable today may not be tomorrow and gang members like to be fashionable.
Examples of gang clothing:
- The individual pictured to the right has several examples of common gang clothing. Starting from the top, he is wearing a blue colored handkerchief on his head. These are often referred to as "rags" and come in many different colors. Gangs often adopt a color that they will identify with. Many other gangs may use the same color rag and often time alliances between different gangs can be recognized by the use of the same color rag. He is also wearing a blue rag around his neck and a blue t-shirt following the same color scheme.
- His pants are hanging low, which is known as "sagging", and he is wearing blue boxer shorts. He is also throwing hand signs which will be discussed later. The pants he is wearing are Dickie work pants which are popular amongst the gang culture. They come in different colors, with tan usually being a neutral color worn by many different gangs.
The use of colored shoe laces is also common. The type of tennis shoes worn can also indicate gang membership. One of the popular styles worn are British Knights tennis shoes because of the initials BK which stand for Blood Killer.
Columbia Knights tennis shoes are also popular and stand for Crip Killers. The old style Nike tennis shoes are in demand and are often referred to as G-Nikes. The old style Converse canvas tennis shoes (Chuck Taylors) are also in demand.
The five pointed star emblem on the Converse is the same as a gang symbol used by many gangs nationwide. Steel toe boots are also worn, mainly by skinhead gangs. A popular style boot worn by the skinheads and other gangs are the Dr. Marten brand.
Customized T-shirts and baseball caps are also popular amongst gangsters. Most often the name or initials of the gang will be imprinted, along with any symbols used by the gang in their graffiti. Often times gang members will write gang graffiti on their clothing, shoes, baseball caps, or on their wallets. Many times a gang will adopt a popular sports team's style of apparel, especially if the colors of that team is the same as their gang color or the team logo has some significant meaning to the gang.
The use of hand signs is a popular form of communication among street gangs. The hand sign usually identifies what major gang affiliation the individual is a part of and the particular gang he is in. The hand sign is also a form of disrespect to rival gangs and has been the cause of gang violence around the nation.
There have been cases reported where hearing impaired individuals using sign language to communicate have been mistaken for gang members and have been the victims of gang violence. Hand signs are usually unique to the gang and vary greatly. If you notice two groups of suspected gang members throwing hand signs at each other, get away from the group and notify the local authorities immediately.