Holiday Gift Guide: Russian Criminal Tattoo Apparel
02:43 PM
Russian Criminal Tattoo apparel.jpg
First up in the N+S Holiday Gift Guide are local Brooklyn, NYC clothing designers who pay tribute to tattoos of the prison kind.

Check out Russian Criminal Tattoo apparel.

Roman Belenky, co-owner of the company, whose father bares marks from his own time as a  prisoner in Russia, has redrawn many of the traditional symbols from the 50s and 60s and exhibits them on quality American Apparel tees, hoodies, and dresses. Roman is quick to point out on his Etsy store that none of the designs are affiliated with any criminal organization or code. So you won't get your ass kicked in Brighton Beach.

The coolest part is that the stories behind the designs are found on each product page. For example, the Lenin portrait with BOP underneath comes with this explanation:

"This particular one was a popular anti-authority tattoo but it has double meaning as do many other tattoos from that era. The letters underneath Lenin spell VOR, the Russian word for thief (which Lenin definitely was). But the letters are also an acronym that stand for Leader of October Revolution. So if an inmate was hassled by administration, he could always state that he was just really patriotic."

I have the "Free Woman" dress in black symbolizing "a woman that did not belong to any gang and followed only her own rules inside and outside of prison." It washes great and the silk-screening stays fresh.

You can custom make your own Russian Criminal Tattoo clothes as well. Check out the designs available here, choose a fave or faves and the item you want them on, and you'll get a price quote back.

And the prices are VERY reasonable, especially considering they print on American Apparel. Tees will run you about $20, dresses $35, and hoodies (front, back and sleeve design) for $50.

For design, quality, price and cool concept, Russian Criminal Tattoo apparel is our first Holiday Gift Guide pick.



* Alix Lambert's The Mark of Cain DVD
Also by Lambert, Russian Prison Tattoos paperback

Wow- those are really cool. I'm absolutely ordering one.

i have one.

That's totally ridiculous! If you've read those books, you dont want to walk aroud with any of these disigns on your clothes. Stupid sell out idea for wannebe bad ass losers!

I live in a Russian neighbourhood. I know the kind of people who have real "Vor" tattoos. I would have to be a grade-A idiot to *even* consider fetishising or commodifying these designs, even if they are from the 50s and the 60s.

I'm kinda' with Lobster here... something tells me the only people who would wear stuff like this are precisely the kind of people who shouldn't be.


I make this shit, I am Russian. I live in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (a Russian neighborhood). The more people see those images the longer they will survive and the longer there will be an interest in that old bygone era and the ideas it carried.

The images that are used are all Anti-Est.

The more people that wear them them the better. That way the images are working, understand?

Probably not...

Nope......You dont either aparantly

Yea you're right. What do I know?

U read about it in the books, I just been around this shit all my life.


MiR you´re a fake. Making money out of images stolen from Danzig Baldaev's "Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia". You will get hurt.

Kasper Chonowitsch

it's from another book of Baldaev.Called Tatuirovki zakluchonih!Rare book!

To Kasper:

Which Baldaev in turn stole from people like my father and my grandfather.

I will start barricading myself in my house right now from the angry mob led by u

You mention some good points. Nice read thanks. I also found[-2006-].html which was quite interesting.

yo niggas u all talking stupid shit!! the guy who makeS that shirts are really smart!! and it doesnt matter if you are vor or not to wear that shirt!!!he just making that green paper!!! i am from saint peterburg!! my uncle sits in (kresti) may be some of u heard about it!!!karoche rebyata kto shprehaet na ruskom tot menya poimet za eto ne kto ne sprosit!!! a maiki deistvitelno klevie!! zabudte pro ponytie oni eshezli 2010 god na dvore vori ne kto!!

How much is too much tattooing. I used to drive a cab and tourists would comment on how nice people are and how many tats they had. I hadn't thought about it until then but, Portlander's do seem to get tats just to have them. I guess more ink = more better. Personally I don't think should get a tattoo of a turtle just because they went to Cancun on vacation. I think the tat should have more meaning. It is, however, good for business. Anyone have a differing idea. I'd be glad to hear it.

You are not allowed to wear any of these unless you are vor v zakone

I really find this a interesting subject. Never looked at this subject in this way. If you are going to write some more articles about this subject, I definitely will be back in the near future! Btw your layout is truly briliant. I will be using something similar for my own site if you don’t mind.

I generally do not post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful

After reading this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this post together. Once again I find myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

connect with us

Marisa Kakoulas
Miguel Collins
Craig Dershowitz
Brian Grosz
Sean Risley
Patrick Sullivan
Needles and Sins powered by Moveable Type.

Site designed and programmed by Striplab.

NS logo designed by Viktor Koen.