2013, Oil on Italian Linen, 120 x 100cm
"Edgier, dangerous, take-no-prisoners tailoring.” Why not take inspiration from a secretive hereditary dictatorship accused of human rights abuses, torture, starvation, random killings and labour camps, right? That’s what ELLE did last year with its ‘North Korea chic” fashion spread featuring $425 designer camouflage trousers (around a third of what the average North Korean earns in a year). Under fire, the magazine apologised.
But in fact fashion has a long-standing military fascination, where each season history’s carnage is picked clean for reference material. Khaki jackets, combat trousers, camouflage and army boots are now as much part of the street lexicon as they are part of an actual soldier’s uniform. In fact everything from the first world war’s greatcoats through to Che Guevara’s beret is fodder to be recycled, marked up and draped across the rigor mortis limbs of store mannequins.
Recruiting by stealth in form of real-life guerilla marketing, the US army has licensed its look to a private fashion group to produce civilian clothes inspired by army uniforms. With each piece is individually approved by the Pentagon, it provides a status intended to beguile the next generation of cannon fodder fated to confront their destiny on the high street and the battlefield.