Softer, softer camouflage |  GQ

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When you think of camouflage clothing, what do you see? Perhaps the sequence of Apocalypse now when Captain Willard covers his face in greens and blacks, or a screenshot of a shattered corpse in Call of Duty. Maybe it’s 2pac dressed head to toe in camouflage with the matching brown bandana, shooting a gun Above the rim. Or maybe you just think of a soldier on patrol somewhere on the edge of the American Empire. The one you imagine is probably someone who looks tough, dangerous. Fresh.

Camo’s fashion history is now well established. The model was popularized by the French army during World War I and has since been adopted by almost all armies around the world. Although military uniforms had long influenced men’s fashion (at least until the late 1700s), camouflage only entered the mainstream in the 1980s after becoming popular among edgider subcultures. From Minor Threat to Public Enemy, the hardcore punk and hip-hop communities have used the model as a way to signal activism and aggression. Inevitably, it has been appropriated and reinvented as luxury by brands as diverse as Tommy Hillfiger, Yves Saint Laurent, Supreme and Bape. Today, camouflage has become ubiquitous. Anytime I spot someone in Kith or the Flight Club sporting tiger stripes, woodblots, or MARPAT pixels, all I can think of is a version of that scene in The devil wears Prada. “Camo for streetwear? What originality. “

Purple camouflage shorts from South2West8.

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The truth, however, is that cover-up hasn’t always been linked to violence, combat, and generally toxic masculinity. It was invented at the turn of the century, the American painter Abbot Thayer, whose 1909 book Conceal coloring in the animal kingdom exposed the theory of how animals blend into their natural habitats. Part scientific inquiry and rhapsody on the beauty of nature, Thayer’s book places camouflage in the context of the natural world rather than modern warfare. And lately I have noticed what seems to be a return to this counterintuitively pacifist cover-up. From earth-toned paisleys to animal-loving thigh-high boots, a group of forward-thinking designers overturn the motif’s violent and militaristic messages and come up with new ways to blend in with nature and perhaps be one with it.

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18 East designer Antonio Ciongoli has spent over a year developing his own version of anti-camo. In April, the brand released a jacket, cargo pants and bucket hat in a new drab cashmere. From a distance the pattern looks like a standard forest camouflage, but up close the swirls turn into blocky printed floral designs. Rather than “seek and destroy”, the clothing seems to indicate “bind and build”.

Inspiration for Ciongoli came from ’90s skateboarders like Lenny Kirk and Josh Kalis, who always appeared to wear camo cargo pants in their video parties and magazine shoots. Like many impressionable teenagers, he was drawn to masculine, rough, tumbling clothing for an aggressive style of street skating. Still, something about the style didn’t suit him.

“I’ve been just aware of the idea of ​​camouflage being used as something to disguise yourself so that you can kill something for a long time, haven’t I?” Whether soldiers in the army or hunters. And I never really thought it was cool.

If skating is an obvious reference for camouflage, a more surprising one is the tenkara fly fishing tradition, which plays a disproportionate role in South 2 West 8’s Spring ’21 vision, possibly the only fly fishing. Japanese fashionable. mark on the planet. Outdoorsman Kaname Nagaoka’s spring offerings are full of sun hats, jackets and pants printed in purple and orange woodland camouflage taken from a photo of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. Psychedelic mesh shirts designed to ward off mosquitoes look perfect for a hot vax summer; tactical vests with additional pockets and a special loop for tanaka rods complete the look. (For total natural immersion, check out Engineered Garments’ waterproof over-the-knee boots and matching jacket, printed in what looks like camouflage from afar, but up close seems like a healthy design from the animal kingdom.)

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