The Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle may be the world’s most popular gun, but its manufacturer has struggled to turn profits in recent years, especially in the face of western sanctions imposed on Russian exports in 2014.
Until 2014, Russia’s largest weapons maker sold the majority of its guns in the US and Europe. Now, with those lucrative overseas exports blocked by sanctions, Kalashnikov is trying to boost domestic revenues by launching a line of casual, “military style” clothing and accessories.
The company’s marketing execs said the apparel will capitalize on ”the rapid growth of patriotism in Russia related to the theme of war,” according to the BBC. By the end of the year, there will be 60 new Kalashnikov retail stores throughout the country.
This isn’t the first time Kalashnikov has tried to reinvent itself. The company underwent a major restructuring after the government sold a minority stake to private investors in 2013. Operations were divided into three categories: military, sports, and hunting. A famous Russian socialite, Tina Kandelaki, was brought in to give the brand a makeover—advertising its weapons as tools “of peace.”
“Kalashnikov weapons are made to maintain peace around the world, regionally and in particular countries—they help nations protect their sovereignty, their right for peaceful existence, their right to pick their own historic fate,” the company said when the re-branding was complete.
Just imagine that on a T-shirt.