Akatsuki means Dawn or Daybreak. But if you were to translate the Kanji literally, it would translate to the Red Moon.
If you were to describe Akatsuki today, you would be compelled to explain that Akatsuki was formed by a group of War Orphans in the Amegakure village who wanted nothing but peace.
And even over the course of several decades, when Akatsuki went through a lot of changes, and even through different leaderships at that, the main purpose of the group, “To Achieve the World Peace,” has not changed.
Every iteration of the group, where it was first made up of War Orphans, then notorious criminals, banished Shinobi’s who had nowhere else to go or, just ideolog’s; all the members of Akatsuki wanted to make the world a better place in some way or form.
Their means to make the world peaceful may have changed over the years, but the purpose of the groups has remained the same.
To symbolize this, almost all iterations of Akatsuki have worn the iconic cloak with the Red Cloud in one way or the other.
What does the Akatsuki cloak mean?
The original members of Akatsuki, Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko initially wore long black cloaks with Chin high Collars. Which was quite common for the residents of the Amegakure Village where the rain never stopped.
Later on, the cloaks changed to be more recognizable under Nagato, and from there, we got the iconic chin high long black cloaks with red interior and Red Clouds.
The Red cloud symbolized the blood the fell in Amegakure during the long Ninja Wars and represented as a symbol of peace to the original Akatsuki members.
The function of the Akatsuki cloak:
But, Akatsuki did not mean to show off their cloaks as a fashion statement.
The Cloaks were designed to be easily recognizable from afar so that when the Akatsuki started to move, they would be easily recognized by the Shinobi’s that came across them. And the actual fear of the group would deter the ninja villages from engaging into smaller conflicts, and that would stop the villages from going into another Great Ninja War.
And to truly make sure that they were revered, Nagato gathered some of the most powerful Shinobi, the missing S rank nin under his organization, and started taking mercenary contracts to gather enough money and wait out till the end of the war when the villages would be at their weakened state. And then steal the tailed beasts to create the 10 tail and use the overwhelming strength to just wipe out conflicts once and for all.
Later on, after Nagato, Tobi Also lead Akatsuki in the same cloaks for the sake of world peace—that lead to the great 4th Ninja War, the revival of Madara Uchiha, and then Kaguya.
The methods of peace employed by the Akatsuki may seem quite controversial to some, but the renowned Cloak of Akatsuki still very much symbolizes peace to certain people and is one of the most sought out merchandise from Naruto that you can check out here.