With a design of a mountain range, tent, and an axe, a shirt for sale on The Right Brand’s online store seems as innocuous as the clothing company’s name. There’s no affront fascist imagery but the words “Alpine Division” scrawled across the shirt offer a clue for those versed in the military history of Benito Mussolini’s forces in the Second World War. There’s also the fact that the fashy fashion line comes courtesy of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a violent white supremacist fight club active in Southern California.
Like any other group looking to grow its sphere of influence above ground, RAM (formerly DIY Division) knows it needs an aesthetic to attract new members and funds to carry out its work. To accomplish both, they’ve launched The Right Brand. State business filings in late June shows Right Brand Clothing to be based out of Huntington Beach with RAM member Robert Rundo listed as the sole manager.
“We are a nationalist apparel company committed to bringing you the highest quality goods,” The Right Brand boasts online. “Our products are designed for both casual and active lifestyles. For our people, made by our people.” Another shirt reads “Thought Criminal” with a member modeling it while playing chess next to a stack of books including Julius Evola’s A Handbook for Right Wing Youth, a work by the Italian philosopher who later inspired fascists and was once cited by Steve Bannon in a speech before his White House stint.
No strangers to Surf City, a RAM member punched Weekly contributing writer Frank Tristan in an unprovoked attack during a pro-Trump march in Huntington Beach last year. The Southern Poverty Law Center also noted HB as being the group’s home base in their “Year in Hate” report released in February. But the online clothing store shows RAM’s overseas aspirations to link up with European ultra-nationalist groups and bolster their white supremacist cred. An article published in ProPublica this week fleshed out RAM’s spring travels to Germany, Italy and Ukraine. Rundo participated in a boxing match hosted by a Kiev white supremacist fight club. While there, Rundo and two other RAM members hung out with Denis Nikitin, a well-known fight promoter in far-right circles who launched White Rex, a clothing company that promotes fascist symbolism on t-shirt designs.
As ProPublica journalists Ali Winston and A.C. Thompson reported, RAM’s own apparel line began distributing White Rex and Svastone, another European brand, on their online store. One White Rex shirt featured bears the yoked arrows of the Spanish Falange with the caption “Facing the sun in my uniform, that’s how death will find me.” But that’s about as overtly fashy as the imported wear gets with The Right Brand eschewing White Rex’s more outrageous designs, much to the disappointment of some who follow RAM on social media.
The clothing company claims an “ethical supply chain” when they buy European gear from “families and communities that believe in traditional values.” Funds from RAM’s own clothing line are said to be directed towards its brand of “activism” and any legal defense needs that may arise from it.
Members, like Rundo, occasionally find themselves in trouble with the law. Following the infamous “Battle of Berkeley” street brawls in April 2017, Berkeley police described Rundo as a 26-year-old from San Clemente in announcing arrests from the day. Rundo did have a prior criminal record including taking a two-year plea deal in exchange for gang assault charges in a 2009 incident where he stabbed a Latino man in Queens, New York.
But Alameda County prosecutors ultimately declined to pursue charges against him for battery on a police officer in the Berkeley rally-turned-melee.