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News 12 Oct 17

Croat Clothing Brand Profits From Tito Nostalgia

A new Croatian urban clothing company is turning the slogans and emblems of the long-gone communist era into a fashion statement.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Model wearing Titos T-shirt. Photo: Facebook/Titos

Croatian-based clothing company Titos is making sales across the globe, by rebranding the image and slogans of Yugoslavia’s one-time communist boss as must-have wardrobe items.

The brand draws on the well known image of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito and the legacy of Socialist Yugoslavia and its slogans about “unity” and the “working people”.

“To sell our product on a global level, as one of the most recognisable figures from Balkans we started with Tito. However, we’re not connecting the brand with his person or work,” Drazen Ljubic, from Zagreb, one of the people behind the clothing brand, told BIRN.

He said the brand was intended mainly for what he called “the new working class”, meaning people “who decide to take matters into their own hands, not waiting for the government to find them a job”.

Thus, Titos will pitch its advertising mainly at the self-employed.

The company’s merchandise includes T-shirts and shirts with hoodies featuring the five-pointed red Communist star – but missing one of the points.

“All of us involved in creating the brand were born during former Yugoslavia, and the five-pointed star here in Yugoslavia was a recognisable symbol,” Dragic said.

“However, it’s also a universal symbol, from the United States Congress to brands like Heineken or [footwear company] Converse,” he added.

The fact that the star is missing one point is intended to symbolise the way people in the Balkans are still “missing something to achieve something great.

“However, despite that symbol, I hope that won’t be the case in our work,” Dragic added with a laugh.

Although Titos was launched back in 2016, it has gained more recognition in recent months having invested more in marketing.

An online shop has helped worldwide sales to go up as well, with almost 50 per cent of customers reportedly returning to snap up more products.

While Titos booms on the backs of a certain nostalgia for his rule, there are growing calls in Croatia for a ban on displays of the Communist red star, along with Fascist symbols.

A number of streets, squares and parks are still named after Tito all over former Yugoslavia, but the number is falling steadily – Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, recently lost its Tito Square, for example.

Recalling the human rights crimes committed in the Communist era, right-wing parties forced changes to Tito squares in Zagreb and in the town of Karlovac in central Croatia as well.

After leading the communist-led Partisan forces to victory over Nazi German and Croat fascist forces during World War WII, Tito ruled Yugoslavia until his death in 1980.

The country broke up amid carnage a decade later, spawning no less than seven states.

For most people, life improved markedly under his rule, which was characterised by a more easy-going version of communism than the norm practised elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Tito was also much admired in the West for his wartime record and his defence of Yugoslav sovereignty against Soviet pressure.

But the various crimes and human rights abuses committed under his rule have ensured that he has remained a disputed figure in the region.

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