Culture outlook: a critique of camouflage

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In addition to hyper-intellectuals and hippies, Berkeley is also home to a solid community of stylish students. One of the most recent (and ubiquitous) trends to emerge from this community has been camouflage clothing. Whether it’s camo shorts and black Vans, a fatigue with skinny jeans or any combination of ‘Nam-inspired apparel therein, camo has certainly become the center of a newfound craze. But camouflage’s popularity raises some interesting points. First of all, do fashionable civilians really deserve military clothing? Secondly, the trend fails to really pay homage to its Vietnam War-era roots. So what does this trend say about our culture?

Fashion is a fantasy. The idea isn’t anything new: people dress the way they do because it’s an effective medium for outward expression. But what business do trendy, mostly effete teenagers and twenty-something year olds have channeling their inner veterans? Little to none. For the most part, the camo craze is likely the outcome of a romanticized, out-of-touch or unappreciative view of veterans.

By and large, camouflage doesn’t pay homage to its roots. This is a generalization, of course, but an educated one: wearing camouflage is nothing beyond a fashion statement (reiteration?) meant to evoke the emotions of the Vietnam War-era without actually paying homage to the pain and sacrifice of the time. Not that camouflage is a reflection of the people who wear it but rather an unconscious abuse (albeit harmless) of the style’s associations.

It’s just not that fly anymore. Remember that song you liked that suddenly went mainstream? You know the feeling — that’s camo. By now, it’s democratized and platitudinous. Even though this trend can be traced back to fashion shows and celebrities, it has taken root on most college campuses by now. If you wore it before then, we’re sorry: Urban Outfitters has thoroughly commercialized your style.

So, why wear camouflage? Well for one, you wouldn’t be in bad company if you did; celebrities from Pharrell to Sarah Jessica Parker have rocked the print. But really, camo is just another trickle-down trend with watered-down associations.

What do you think about camo? Leave your comments below!

Image source: bobbi vie  under Creative Commons

Contact Griffin Mori-Tornheim at [email protected]