SOLIDLY OF CAMOUFLAGE IN THE FASHION PANTHEON

From the 1970s to present day, the pattern has repeatedly fallen in and out of fashion, creating a cycle that has served to fix it solidly in the fashion pantheon as a classic.

By Balthazar Malevolent

SOLIDLY OF CAMOUFLAGE IN THE FASHION PANTHEON

Upon first consideration, military-issued camouflage would seem to suggest the disappearance of the individual – its very nature as a uniform emphasizes conformity, while the optical effects of the pattern force the disintegration of the human form by merging it into the background. Yet, when used by fashion, camouflage announces one’s presence, serving to distinguish the wearer from others. From the 1970s to present day, the pattern has repeatedly fallen in and out of fashion, creating a cycle that has served to fix it solidly in the fashion pantheon as a classic. Even though the pattern now has widespread populist appeal, it still retains edgy overtones due to its use in the military and in anti-fashion. The inherent malleability of camouflage to transfigure the body is echoed in its flexibility within the realm of fashion to both distinguish yet codify the wearer. It is at the same time used as a tool of subversion and an indication of accepted fashionable conformity.

Alexander Wang FW2016 men's collection.

Camouflage is immediately recognizable, yet it has contradictory meanings. Like the fragmented world that the pattern embodies, in socio-cultural terms the camouflage pattern embodies conflicting connotations – violent yet peaceful, urban yet natural, conformist yet subversive. Inherently democratic, camouflage belongs to male and female, rich and the poor, pacifists and warriors. Ultimately, it is the wearer, not the pattern itself that determines its meaning.

Designers often apply camouflage prints to their models. Within his last season, Alexander Wang presented several variations of camo sweatpants, camouflage back panel t-shirts, and camo canvas totes.

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