Christian Smalls of the Amazon Labor Union for his style

On Friday morning, before the results of the vote, which will mark Amazon’s first union victory, were announced, Christian Smalls dressed as usual.

Mr Smalls, a 33-year-old union president and former Amazon employee, wore a black fool and paired it with a fitted baseball cap, hood and sweatpants, all in red, his favorite color. He donned a pair of gold-toned sweatshirts and a red Amazon Labor Union T-shirt over his sweatshirt to show solidarity with the staff.

But that day, when Amazon’s union supporters were celebrating the results, Mr. Smalls stood out in the crowd, champagne in streetwear and big sunglasses, a man Amazon had underestimated from the start. The month-long battle he waged against one of the world’s largest corporations was not wore a suit and tie or even jeans, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos often wears. Instead, Mr. Smalls did it in a sweat, with sneakers on his feet and grills in his mouth.

“I am one of them,” Mr Smalls said in a telephone interview Monday. “I don’t like wearing the same things as everyone else.”

Mr Smalls, who lives in Newark, described his style as a move towards hip-hop culture. He is a former rapper and likes to express himself through street clothes, even in the face of ill-wishers.

“I read comments on my social media and I see people shooting at me all the time,” he said, citing critics who could not take him seriously because of his clothes.

“These are the people I want to prove wrong,” he continued. “It really motivates me to keep dressing the way I do, because I want everyone to know that it’s not about how I look. This is a job I put in. “

But the clothes undoubtedly set him apart from Amazon’s management. On the day of the vote count, he contrasted with the company’s persecuted lawyers and even most union organizers.

“Chris is just shameless himself,” Connor Spence, vice president of membership for Amazon Labor Union, wrote in a text message. “He’s not trying to be someone who isn’t, and I think at some level the workers can feel that.”

As a young boy who grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, Mr. Smalls was often annoyed that he did not keep up with the latest trends. It wasn’t until he was a teenager and started working that he began to develop his own style.

“It just stems from the fact that I couldn’t afford the clothes everyone was rocking at the time,” he said. “Whatever I wore, I had to do it hot. I had to make it look like it cost a lot of money, even though it wasn’t. ”

The clothes became a point of contact between him and those who traced his history on Amazon. Last week, after the result of the vote was announced, many people marked his red tracksuit – a distinctive look for a leader. And when he spoke to students about the organization of labor, as he often does now, he said they were often struck by his style.

“When they look at me, they see themselves in me,” he said. They say, “Wow, you’re up against Bezos and you look like you can hang out with us.”

Amazon fired Mr. Smalls in 2020, saying he had violated the quarantine order by attending a walk to protest the company’s safety conditions. He didn’t shop as much as he used to, but he loved going to Urban Outfitters, H&M, and jewelry stores. She used to wear a lot of Supra sneakers. He wears the Jordan from time to time.

“If I had to run for president, I would look exactly like that,” he said. “I would go to the White House with a pair of Jordanians because that’s me as a person.”

However, these days he wears mostly union shirts, which he helped with the design, which are available in a range of shades – black, white, bright pink, blue-green – designed to contrast with the shirts Amazon gives to its employees in the warehouse.

“We have to look like Skittles,” he said, referring to the multicolored candies. “And I said that one thing that will help us succeed with this union is that our equipment will be much better than theirs. Our drops will be much better. ”

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