Camouflage has been in vogue for civilians since at least the 1960s when protesters of the Vietnam War wore it (initially within groups like Vietnam Veterans Against the War). Since then, camo has ebbed and flowed in popularity within fashion, but today, it's not only fashionable, it's everywhere. From Mark McNairy to The Gap, it's hard to leave the house without seeing some style camo on the street. I learned a lot about camouflage in May when I was in Montana designing the forthcoming Tomboy Style X Kletterwerks backpack. Of most interest was that the Canadians pioneered computer-generated camo (aka digi-cam) and implemented in 2002, and then most NATO countries followed suit, adopting digital camo iterations for their own militaries. I have seen some digital camo used by fashion labels, but the style world seems reluctant to get on board with the modern patterns. Without getting too in the weeds on camouflage (get it, get it?), I thought it would be cool (and super nerdy) to point out some of the different camo patterns—I love how when taken out of context they can look like a Matisse or a cubist painting.
Row 1: US Woodland (this is one of the most popular camo patterns on the planet, it was standard issue in the US from 1981-2006 and is still used by many countries around the world); the Swiss Army's Alpenflage; Germany's Flecktarn.
Row 2: Sweden's M90 pattern; the US's Urban Tracks (only tested in 2003); France's Lizard pattern.
Row 3: Australia's Jelly Bean camo; Britain's DPM-95; China's Type 99.
It's fascinating how every color, pattern, and iteration of camo is studied and tested to look as invisible as possible while still looking different enough as to not be confused with enemy combatants. It's truly a science and an art.
Photo of a woman in camouflage class NYU where men and woman prepared for jobs in the Army or in industry, 1943 via Library of Congress.
Oh and be warned: It is illegal to wear camouflage as a civilian or tourist in many Caribbean countries and elsewhere abroad. Check before packing.
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