On Friday morning, before the results of a poll marking the first Union victory on Amazon were released, Christian Smalls was dressed like any other day.
Mr Small, the union’s 33-year-old president and a former employee of Amazon, wore a black turban and paired it with a fitted baseball cap, hoodie and sweatpants – all red, his favorite color. On top of his sweatshirt, he threw a pair of goldtone chains and a red Amazon Labor Union T-shirt to show solidarity with the workers.
But that day, while Amazon Union supporters were celebrating the results, Mr. Small stood in the crowd – popping champagne in street clothes and big sunglasses, a man whom Amazon had underestimated from the beginning. The month-long war he led against one of the world’s largest corporations was not without suits and ties or even jeans, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos often wears. Instead, Mr. Small did it with sweat, sneakers on his feet, and a grill on his face.
“I’m one of a kind,” Mr. Small said in a phone interview Monday. “I don’t like to wear the same thing as everyone else.”
Mr. Small, who lives in New York, described his style as support for hip-hop culture. He is a former rapper and enjoys expressing himself through streetwear, even in the face of critics.
“I read comments on my social media, and I see people taking shots at me all the time,” he said, citing critics who could not take him seriously because of his attire.
“I want to prove those people wrong,” he continued. “It really inspires me the way I dress because I want you all to understand that this is not how I look. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
But the clothes undoubtedly set him apart from Amazon’s management. On the day of the vote count, he stood against the company’s loyal lawyers and even most union organizers.
Connor Spence, vice president of the Amazon Labor Union, wrote in a text message, “Chris himself is shameless.” “He’s not trying to be someone he’s not, and I think staff at some level can understand that.”
As a young boy growing up in Hackensack, NJ, Mr. Smalls was often teased for not wearing the latest trends. He started developing his own style until he was a teenager and started working.
“It just came out of the fact that I couldn’t afford the clothes that everyone was swinging at the time,” he said. “Whatever I was wearing, I had to warm up. I had to make it look like it was worth a lot of money even though it wasn’t. “
Clothing has become a point of connection between her and those who have followed her story on Amazon. Last week, after the results of the vote were announced, many people commented on his siren-red sweatshirt – a unique look for a leader. And when he talks to students about organizing labor, as he often does now, he says they are often influenced by his style.
“When they look at me, they see themselves in me,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Wow, you’re going against Bezos and you think you can hang out with us.'”
Amazon fired Mr Smalls in 2020, saying he had violated a quarantine order by joining a walkout in protest of the company’s security situation. He doesn’t shop once, but prefers to go to Urban Outfitters, H&M and Thrift stores. He wore many supra sneakers. Sometimes he wears Jordan.
“If I were to run for president, I would look exactly like this,” he said. “I walked into the White House with a pair of Jordans because that’s what I was as a person.”
However, these days, she wears most of the union shirts she helped design, which come in a variety of colors – black, white, hot pink, teal – as opposed to the shirts Amazon gives her warehouse employees.
“We have to look like skittles,” he said, referring to the multi-colored candy. “And I said one thing that will help us succeed with this union is that our gear is going to be better than theirs. Our drip is going to get better. “