Helly Hansen Jacket Craze Sparks Violence

Peter Hermann, Washington Post, November 30, 2012

U First Fashions & Sports in Temple Hills is filled with the newly hip and the newly obsolete in apparel, displayed hierarchically according to the tastes of the region’s teenagers and young adults. The item of the moment—the Helly Hansen jacket—commands prime real estate high against a back wall.

Burglars who targeted the shop in an Allentown Road strip mall in September bypassed previous years’ hot items, such as Nike shoes, Timberland boots and Sergio Tacchini tennis shirts. All they took were 20 items from Helly Hansen.


Luxury brand Helly Hansen is this year’s fashion statement. The fad is now attracting crime, police say, with the $450-plus designer jackets being sought at gunpoint as well as at the cash register. An Olney teenager was fatally stabbed Nov. 17 at the Woodley Park Metro station after confronting another teen who was wearing his stolen jacket.

How a jacket or a pair of shoes becomes so hot, so desirable, so alluring that someone would kill for it remains elusive. Before Helly Hansen, it was North Face. Before that, it was sneakers. A teenager, in fact, was killed in Northeast in January for his Nikes. Two days after the Metro stabbing, an 18-year-old was robbed of his Helly Hansen at gunpoint as he walked home from Surrattsville High School in Clinton.

Maj. Jason B. Bogue, the head of Prince George’s 5th District, said police always ask why and rarely get a good answer.

“When we do talk to them, we ask, ‘So, why did you do it?’ ” said Bogue, whose beat includes Clinton. “Was it specifically for this jacket or for this pair of shoes? Some say, ‘I wanted pocket money,’ or ‘I wanted something for my mom.’ ”

“There is still shock value in motive,” Bogue said. “First we shake our head and get a little bit angry. How stupid could people be to kill somebody for a jacket or a pair of sneakers? Then comes empathy and sympathy for all the families involved.”


Helly Hansen markets to sailors, skiers, outdoor adventurers and those who want to look like them. Their jackets include down parkas, fleece hoodies and windbreakers, many in the bright colors that appear to be in this year. The clothing line was started by a 19th-century Norwegian sea captain and generally caters to the Aspen ski crowd. But now it has become the rage in the District’s hip-hop culture.

The company’s Web site calls its products perfect for the rugged outdoors and “the streets of Europe’s fashion capital.” Prices for the clothing can exceed $650.


Area retailers insist that they were as surprised by the fad as anyone and have struggled to meet demand. And while the brand was linked with hip-hop culture during a boomlet in the 1990s, experts struggle to find a contemporary connection.

It seems largely concentrated in the D.C. area, said Dave Mays, co-founder of Hip Hop Weekly magazine. The District “has a history of being a very stylish city,” he said, credited with launching the Timberland boot craze in the 1990s, creating “the staple shoe of the hip-hop generation.”

“Hip-hop culture is always looking for something new and different,” Mays said. “We take traditional brands and reinvent them with an urban flair, and they get adopted to our own market.”

Mays said Helly Hansen advertised in another magazine he founded, the Source, in the early 1990s. Around that time, the brand turned up in rap lyrics, and its puffy ski jackets—designed specifically for the hip-hop market—were sported on stage by Funkmaster Flex and Redman over large gold chains.

In March, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier mentioned Helly Hansen as she ticked off items popular with criminals. The stabbing of 18-year-old Olijawon Griffin at the Metro station cast new light on the issue, and police said another man was robbed of his Helly Hansen jacket at gunpoint Nov. 27 in Southeast.


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  • MekongDelta69

    Urban Flair” aka Destruction of America

  • dukem1

    As worn on stage by Funkmaster Flex.
    Oh yeah…I’d kill for something like that.
    Funkmaster Flex.
    (Edited by author to provide more Funkmaster Flex.)

  • How a jacket or a pair of shoes becomes so hot, so desirable, so alluring that someone would kill for it remains elusive.

    Not elusive. It only requires that young black men like the clothing item in question.

    We have a red and a blue jacket in the picture. That should explain a lot.

  • Ulick

    I lived in the ghetto and drove a Ford Focus. Meanwhile, despite living in dilapidated housing, the other cars in the lot were pimped out Beamers and Lexuses. That culture is obsessed with status symbols whether they could afford them or not, and they’re willing to kill or rob for those status symbols. Of course, the ultimate status symbol for them is an attractive white women with blonde hair.

    • JackKrak

      One of the defining characteristics of D’Shawnquarious and all of this friends – the desperate “look at me!” element to just about everything they do.

    • David Brims

      Blacks are very homophobic, yet the irony is, they all dress gay, wearing outlandish garish clothes, pink trousers etc etc.

      • The__Bobster

        Like some species of birds, the plumage is everything.

      • Katherine McChesney

        One fat black guy in my building wears cartoon clothing. For example, loud yellow shirt with trousers to match among other eye-blinding ensembles. He’s loud and obnoxious, uneducated and too imposing but ‘boy he sho looks gud.’ Big cars, loud clothing and the latest in ipads, etc. and they’re ‘s—-ing in tall cotton’ as they say.

        • David Brims

          I saw an extremely large ebonic speaker with a vapid expression on his face, shuffling down the street , wearing a yellow and black horizontal striped jumper. He looked like a bumble bee.

          Another time, I saw three black youths, standing at a bus stop, wearing red, yellow, green jumpers ( they love those colors ) It was like Skittles.

          They always have a little affectation, it could be a large wrist watch, the size of an alarm clock or a zebra print baseball cap or gold earrings the size of hula hoops, there’s always something that’s just not right.

          • Tim

            Homeboys been shoppin` Jimmy Jazz….

          • FourFooted_Messiah

            ROFL! Well, if they look like clowns, I would be less afraid of them. Apparently, there is a black guy in this building – he looks rather intimidating, but hasn’t really done anything worse than looking my way a few times. I do carry a small pocket knife when doing laundry, however.

        • Tarczan

          A corallary of this is noted in the womens breast cancer football uniforms. The black players loved all the pink socks, etc. long after the promotion was D’ Brickashaw was still wearing the pink gloves and socks.

      • Integration Anxiety

        It’s not that they are homophobic. It’s that they don’t want to be found out that they are “down low”. Why else would they like prison so much?

        • drofmanythings

          Like Obama and Chris Young?

    • Tim

      The best definition of *****rich I ever heard was this. “That`s a guy who glances at his $25,000 Diamond Rolex every three minutes to see when the next bus is coming…”

      • i am

        We called them Cadillac *******.

    • ImTellinYa

      That’s been true for decades. Back in the 50s and 60s Blacks lived in houses that looked as if they would blow over in the next not-so-stiff wind. No paint, cracked windows, rotten boards, crumbling chimneys, etc. But there would be Cadillacs and Buicks parked up and down the street. They would rarely be new, but they would be as pimped out as possible. And there were always clothing stores in Black neighborhoods that sold insane suits. Crazy, loud colors and lots of cheap fabric. Note that Whites embraced this style in the 70s. The beginning of the end.

      I work for a major, daily newspaper and there’s an advertising salesman here who is Black. Sometimes you’ll see him wearing what appears to be a maroon, paisley-patterned pair of silk pajamas with a matching jacket. The shirt and jacket are short-sleeved and the pants legs are short also. He wears knee socks and Italian loafers.

      It is extremely embarrassing, but nobody says much except for a few White imbeciles who bend over backwards telling him how sharp he looks and how they wish they could pull off a look like that etc. It’s pathetic. I often wonder if he wears that stuff just to see how Whites will react.

      • i am

        ” I often wonder if he wears that stuff just to see how Whites will react.”

        I think it is to attract suckers and fools who can be taken advantage of. It is just like those people that promote vomit on canvas as modern art. Anyone who believes that it is art, can easily be manipulated and taken advantage of.

      • FourFooted_Messiah

        It’s common around here to refer to old Caddys and Lincolns, etc, as “Indian cars” (feather kind!). However, since they tend to be of 1980s vintage and before, I think they just really like big cars.

        Don’t blame them, I like old New Yorkers, too.

    • Anders

      Good Lord! I just don’t understand why someone would even buy, let alone ‘KILL’ for one of those horrible looking jackets – same goes for those ugly sport-shoes they’re so fond of.
      Then again, what the hell would I know, I’m a 43 year old White Male with good taste!

    • Frank

      “Of course, the ultimate status symbol for them is an attractive white women with blonde hair.”

      Even if she is a DWL MILF that they can rob and rape and kill.


  • haroldcrews

    A bigger question is why would a company want to become fashionable among thugs and murderers? Short of a temporary spike in sales there appears to be a definite downside in becoming associated with the ghetto. This is in addition that most people aren’t willing to be robbed or killed merely for the sake of fashion.

    • Anonymous

      Basically what happened to Tommy Hilfiger, went from a high class yacht club set brand to being associated with thugs. No idea how it affected their bottom line over the long term though.

      • The__Bobster

        It did make that sellout grovel so beautifully when a rumor was started about him being a racist.

      • NYB

        Before Tommy Hilfiger it was Polo Ralph Lauren.

        Local blacks would buy these items on a Thursday, and try to return them to the store on Saturday, after wearing them to a club and a few parties. There would be consternation when the clerks refused to take back an item which had obviously been washed.

        I once saw a young black standing outside a nightclub completely outfitted in a bright yellow nautical ensemble. I know there were no yachts in his life.

        All fashion is posing, but blacks have a threshold which is beyond that of any other race.

        • anmpr1

          With RL, there appears to be two lines. There is the “oxford” class line of shirts with the small polo player. These shirts are similar, though not as good as, the old Sero and Gant shirts made in New England back in the day, before the neocons shipped all manufacturing to the orient. They are meant to be worn with a tie and dress pants. Strictly a white fashion.

          Then, RL has a line featuring a huge polo player that takes up the entire front of the shirt. These are not oxford dress shirts, but pull overs and hoodies, marketed to “youfs.” Ralph Lifshitz…uh…er…I mean Lauren, just be keepin’ it real, sho ’nuff. Noam sayin?

          • FourFooted_Messiah

            Oh, damn. Tommy used to put out a rather nice scent; I had a few samples.

            As for hoodies, I’m angry that such a sensbile piece of cold-weather clothing has been usurped by the criminal set. I even saw an older couple who was in a kind of mild argument over his wearing a hoodie – the wife was warning against it. As I warned my own naive husband about them (he lived in small towns for much too long.) Take a look at the Prince George, British Columbia Crimestoppers list – it looks like the Hoodie Gang has taken over the city.

          • I remember the good oxford dress shirts you could get. Nice. Nothing but k-rap now coming fromthe Orient, including the underwear and socks.

            Are there any American companies that still make good clothing in the US? Almost everything now imported from the orient is garbage and produced with no pride but increase the corporations short-term profits.

      • Katherine McChesney

        Look at FUBU (‘For us, by us.’) . Expensive, garish, made by Russell Simmons.

    • Kissmyass

      And instead they should want to be associated with white people?? The same people who commit most of the mass-murders in this country? The same people that are more likely to torture you before they kill u and the same people who are definitely above fashion symbols like these, that’s why white women aren’t always on tv talking about their expensive shopping addictions right??

  • David Brims

    Nike shoes to blacks is what the Holy Grail is to Christians.

  • sam


    • I guess their Obama dollars are burning a hole in their droopy drawers.

    • I finally bought a new over-stuffed fluffy down jacket at the end of the winter season. I can’t tell you the brand name of the jacket but it’s very high quality with a fleece liner that functions separately as a light jacket (two coats in one). The coat is impervious to cold,

      The regular price was $300. I got it at the end of the season on sale for the unbelievable price of $25.

      So while I only got to use the coat for about a month last winter, I now have a high quality coat for many years to come and I doubt anyone is going to try to kill me for my fashion statement.

      • FourFooted_Messiah

        You, sir or madam, win the “best buy of the year award”. However, it doesn’t matter how much you paid for it, it’s how much the percieved value is to criminals.

        Besides my Eddie Bauer for winter, I also have a trenchcoat I use for cold, wet weather in general. I bought it in a military surplus store in Detroit in 1996. What it is, is a Wehrmacht trench-coat, apparently, German Army surplus. Best raincoat I ever had, with a removable lining for warmer weather. It’s a 44 Long, so it reaches my ankles. and covers my hands well.

        For some reason, shady people cross the street away from me when I wear it. I don’t know why. But my husband works with a German guy who wants to buy it, and I won’t sell at any price.

        • Michael_C_Scott

          I love those old wool greatcoats, and I have three.

          I can help you identify your German coat, maybe. Are the buttons aluminum? Use a refrigerator magnet to check. A WW-2 Wehrmacht greatcoat should have buttons with a pebble grain outside. The postwar East Germans used the same coats, and the same aluminum pebble grain buttons but with a distinctive ring around the edge of each button. On wartime buttons the pebble grain reaches all the way to the edge, and the buttons for the shoulder boards are in the same fashion, but a hair smaller.

          One of mine is 1941 Wehrmacht (with stitched-up holes in it). Another is 1939 British with “G.R.” on all the (correct) buttons. The other, and the warmest is East German Navy, with civilian buttons and the wool is gloriously fine. It was noticed when I wore it while helping an ex-USN officer move his wife and their stuff in mid-winter, and he told me he wished he had been able to keep his bridge coat. Since Ed and I were of a size, I had him put it on.

          Sayaka remains annoyed that they are too big to fit her, but she sewed one for herself a few years ago, dark blue with a dark blue lining with silver cranes, like the kimono she wore when we were married. She gets the silk from somewhere near Kyoto. My mother’s is camel-hair, and not as warm, but she has pinned on the left breast Royal Flying Corps wings, which my nanny in Oxford gave me in 1977; they had been her brother’s. It’s silly; she’s never flown anything, and militaria ought not to be worn as jewelry, but it goes well with the coat.

          Old things are wonderful, just because they are old, but much more so if they remain serviceable.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      With us white people paying for their food, housing and medical care, the ghetto garbage can afford bling.

  • Tim

    Tim`s new idea. “Urban Artic Outfitters”…

    • Robert Binion

      Vera Wang Chung?

  • i am

    Just tell them that the HH logo stands for Heil Hitler. Maybe then they won’t want it.

  • I heard they think it stands for habitually horny.

  • Howard W. Campbell

    Real Men of Genius “Mr. Pimped out Ghetto Car Driver”


    (I believe it was a radio ad and the pictures are just filler)

    If this doesn’t define a certain group, nothing will.

    The closest piece of clothing that I have to the Helly Hansen jackets is a Black & Silver Zero Xposure jacket that I bought at the end of the winter a couple of years ago for an 80% discount. Functional, but I am not out to impress every neighbor and potential baby mama in a 6 block radius.

    I would imagine that some bleeding heart out there blames the actions of your local ghetto rats on those darn clothing manufacturers and the exorbitant prices for fashion. Just like Foot Locker causes the doors to be ripped off the hinges in some places when the 1992 Michael Jordan retro shoes go up for sale. Oddly enough, I have never heard of the mall doors being ripped off in Maine, North Dakota, and Idaho.

  • Blacktavius

    I’m a snowboarder and I own a Helly Hansen jacket. These are pretty popular in Scandinavia so I
    bought one specifically not to be another North Face, Columbia drone. I hate to see this brand become popular with the black populace. Why can’t they stick to Fubu, Sean John or Enyce?

    • Tim

      Sit down cowboy! I need to tell you about Sprite…

      • Blacktavius

        ???? Not sure what that means…

        • Tim

          It used to be a White soda, then it went “Black”…

          • Blacktavius

            Gotcha. Kinda like mountain dew. It was always the pop of preference of IT geeks and extreme athletes. Now they make variations of it to appeal to Africans like mountain dew code red or grape dew

          • FourFooted_Messiah

            Does Mountain dew still have caffiene? No matter, I drink Coke, being a gamer nerd.

      • Then why drink Malt Liquor? It never had cachet among whites.

    • i am

      “Why can’t they stick to Fubu, Sean John or Enyce?”

      Because those are owned by blacks, and they secretly want to white.

      • Don’t most ethnics?

  • I think it’s the height of irony to see Africans wear articles of clothing designed by pretty much the Whitest folks on the planet, for activities and sports that practically no African has ever historically participated in. Yachting, skiing, snowboarding and mountain climbing are not high on the list of favorite African pastimes. I mean, I kinda understand the Jordans and the Reeboks. Not that I understand paying 150 dollars for something made in a Bangi sweatshop for about 3 dollars. I would understand designer flak jackets and bullet proof vests. Gold plated crack pipes.

  • MerlinV

    Those jackets reek “African in Olympic Games” to me. They love to dress up like peacocks for some reason. Bold and brash. Fits their personality I guess.

  • Only in the small and petty mind of the negro.


    Many animals and insects in nature are attracted by shiny objects.

    • FourFooted_Messiah

      oooo, shiny ,,,, Wait, what did you say?

    • i am

      Flies are attracted to s**t. Although those jackets don’t smell, they still look like crap.

  • David Ashton

    Just look at their “music” videos. Bling, bling, bling. And ridiculous to educated white observers. I wouldn’t bother to write this if I had not just seen Will.i.am trying to sing with Britney Spears posing for him on another video. Degenerate role models.

  • IstvanIN

    I was once passed by a Cadillac Escalade completely covered, roof to rockers, bumper to bumper, in Gucci “G”s, driven by a black female. I assume it was covered in one of those vinyl wrap things.

  • drofmanythings

    Somebody in China should start making counterfit knock-offs for $50 bucks and make a fortune. Then the criminals wouldn’t want them anymore. No killings, crime wave abates…voila!

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    Yeah, and kids in Detroit were being stabbed over Eight-Ball jackets way back when.

    Who the hell is Helly Hanson?

    I have an old Eddie Bauer ski jacket – I hope that isn’t “hip”.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      I’m wearing a 20 year-old Eddie Bauer watch right now. I think it is on the fifth leather band (this time, real crocodile) and the fourth battery.

      The croc-o-band is holding up quite nicely.

  • ICU812

    Where was all this racist rhetoric when Massah was in the corn crib with the slave women? Black society learned violence from the Roman Empire the Klan, J Edgar Hoover, the Rhodesians, Skulls, and Free Masons. So before you label a race materialistic and shallow know that somewhere along the line your Caucasian ancestry is partially responsible! Nobody ever depicted JFK in the image of a monkey because they disagreed with his policies!

  • dana owens

    It’s terrible what people will do to get something. I just bought a great new Ski
    at Burlington Coat Factory. They had great deals so I was able to save about $50 on it. It’s so warm and I love the way it looks. I know I’ll be wearing it all winter.