What Exactly is Camouflage Clothing? – A History of Camouflage


The history of the interwoven tie between military camouflage and fashion is endless. Season every season, it floods the runways and fills closets, but why? Perhaps because the original camouflage developers were painters and designers. Perhaps because we enjoy the convenience and functionality of tactical clothes. Or maybe we just like to be in charge. Whatever the cause, tactical apparel has long piqued the interest of the fashion industry.

A soldier’s uniform represents allegiance and honor. It denotes the branch, position, and title. But when it comes to concealment, it implies a lot more. It can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield. So, how did garments designed to be inconspicuous become a fashion staple? Let’s take a look at the past with Teeanime.

Brief History of Camouflage

Few developments have been as revolutionary to military uniforms as camouflage, which became a standard throughout WWI. Camouflage patterning was first utilized by militaries to conceal not persons, but locations and equipment. When machine guns, trench combat, and aerial photography became available, France, England, Germany, and the United States abandoned the conventional, brighter uniform colors in favor of a dull olive drab tone. They began inventing low-visibility clothing and even organized a camouflage battalion called camofleurs, which was made up of regular artists and designers.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers began experimenting with camouflage uniforms in 1940, and by 1943, U.S. Marines were wearing reversible beach coveralls with a green and brown “frog” pattern. Camo, however, had fallen out of favor by the conclusion of WWII. Throughout the twentieth century, select troops of the Army experimented with and wore camouflage, but the first official camouflage uniform didn’t appear until the mid-1980s.

From Field to Fashion

Vogue magazine recognized field trends and introduced them into the fashion world as early as 1943. It basically merely explained what military camouflage was and what it was used for to Vogue readers. It wasn’t until 1971 that the next article appeared, which featured a camo trend collage with photographs of girls dressed in military gear. The camo trend truly took off in the 1980s, when hunters and people alike began wearing various shades of green, tan, and brown clothing. The developing trend is attributed to American military actions in Lebanon and Grenada, and many believe it exploded as a result of people’s pride in their country.

Camouflage clothing is now available in a variety of forms, colors, and styles, ranging from lingerie to shoes. Camo couture has been made by mainstream designers such as Christian Dior and Moschino. It’s definitely a fashion statement.

Camouflage has been used to hide or conceal objects throughout history. It’s meant to be inconspicuous, yet fashion has re-appropriated it to speak loudly.