paramilitary fashion - rant

sufi

lala


Is it my imagination or has this been on the rise these past couple of years??
this is something that's been bothering me for a LONG while,

more and more fashion seems to be using military motifs, whether camouflage or maybe more classic double breasted brass-buttons & epaulettes
to me this represents an stealthy militarisation of civil society, i understand that (in UK) soldiers are not allowed to wear uniforms unless on duty, this is good as it means the military don't use their uniforms as a status symbol & draws a clear boundary between civil & military society.

i reckon that them combat trousers with the paratrooper pockets have actually been in fashion since GW1 as have yer timbaland desertboots (ala swarzkopf). Now there seem to be more adoption of themes by hiphop & sports & even children's wear ffs, & now we see shit like 'ironic' pink camouflage prints = :eek:
that seems to me just to trivialise conflict and the reality of war in a society where we fund war but do not have to deal with it's consequences

I remember for years there've been a crew of rastas at carnival very year fully decked out on camo, (eden will know exactly who!), so is this maybe an exception? - more acceptable as they are a militant minority than from the social dominant group??

it sincerely disturbs me to see people on the high street dressed up like chetniks, it makes me feel like maybe roadblocks and kigali style street militia are just around the corner...

any conscious dissensite wish to defend their wardrobe against charges of militarism?? - can anyone say they don't own any militarised item? yer boots? yer beenie/balaclava? that flight jacket? or your trendy silver dog tag necklace?

 

owen

Well-known member
good thread topic! i'm very much answerable to all of these charges, so...

yes, the incipient militarism of the yoof is deeply worrying- see also SUVs...the description 'my soldiers' etc- both in the 'support our troops' and radical chic senses
this also apposite- http://leninology.blogspot.com/2005/12/male-fantasies.html

however it is an easy (and frequently cheap) way of looking smart amidst a sea of sloppy tracksuits, and no-one is parting me from my red army jacket


but in defence of this, isn't militaristic garb meant to disturb after all?- tho i know it involves a certain quasi-identification with conflicts that 'we' fund but don't suffer the consequences of, but isn't that the point? an acknowledgement that the world is polarised, is militaristic...? that there's a kind of 'perverse over-identification' at work here, deliberately setting out to unsettle? (as zizek said abt Laibach- tho whether he would have said the same abt 'soldier' and 'lose my breath' by destiny's child i dunno)
 
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redcrescent

Well-known member
Guilty as charged. Did quite a bit of this in my youth and during university years (army surplus stores being good sources for cheap, longlife clothing) but have gone clean off it ever since obligatory army service. In my defense I must say I never wore a piece of gear without seriously "customizing"/disfiguring it first.
 

martin

----
I don't actually own any camo gear cos it just reminds me of Rodney from "Only Fools and Horses" rather than Kigali death squads, as for paraboots, they're a bit dated and mostly worn by cider-swigging punks, but this is a practical strategy, as they stop your feet getting mashed to pulp when someone pogos all over you

I do have a balaclava, which looks really evil, which I bought for 5 quid as part of a prank, but I've only worn it once (I think it's still illegal to do so in the UK in public spaces under the Paramilitaries Act?). I also have a gasmask, which again I pissed around with once when we were in a band, but has gathered dust for about 10 years. I don't think it represents a militarisation of anything, people just buy it cos it's cheap and they like it. And if you actually talk to people wearing it, you end up realising these people'll never lift a rifle in their lives.
 

Lichen

Well-known member
2 way street

I reckon it's working the other way too, Sufi.

Remember gung ho Brit Colonel Tim Collins and his Oakley wraparounds? :cool:


Icons of civvy-street "cool" on the battlefield signify the same scary osmosis as camo bikinis on the beach. Seen from this angle I begin to get your point.

Off to see Jarhead tonight so I'll report back with cinematic examples if there are any.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
I have always liked the pseudo-milliatary, quasi-fascist look, just on an aesthetic level (related to my teenage obsession with industrial music, hard-edge abstract painting, radical politics... but sepcifically how I'm not always so sure)

I own a WW2 german field jacket and a flight jacket (don't wear them much at all anymore though)... do Doc Martens count?

I would much rather look like Laibach compared to hippie slobs any day. (even though I'm like, all about peace and love man)

and I have to confess... the 12 year-old in me still thinks Hummers look cool no matter how much I am sickened by them on an ideological level.

but I don't think pseudo-millitaristic fashion can be simply interpreted as pro-milliatary... it's more complex than that. as an expression I think it can mean a lot of different things...
 

gabriel

The Heatwave
couldn't agree more sufi. to my knowledge, i don't own any militaristic clothing, and i never will. it's a weird look, whether it's done to rebel or to fit in, i'm not into it

(do doc martens count? haven't worn them for over 5 years anyway)
 

zhao

there are no accidents
i think this new wave of paramilitary fashion is more sinister, more of a straight identification with the powers that be.

as opposed to back in the industrial-goth days when it meant something else... it had a different function. more of a statement, perhaps ironic, maybe even critical. like those pictures of Genesis P. dressed in army outfits (AK optional).
 
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Grievous Angel

Beast of Burden
I'm still a first-wave-industrial-era camo gear fetishist whether in army-surplus-store or designer stylee.

Both my sons are currently sitting on the sofa with their kid-sized camo trousers on and they look ACE. (Felix has some camo socks -- cooooooool!)

Bestest thing is when camo style crosses over with rambling gear for that super-practical high-tech vibe...

I think the prevalance of semi-militaristic designer camo gear comes from black US gulf war(s) veterans coming back and wearing camo to clubs...

Am put in mind of Destiny's Child's "Soldier" which I can't get out of my head.
 
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sufi

lala
welll, paul,
is there policy on toys like guns? you often hear parents say that 'o yes kids will just pretend a stick is a gun if you do'nt let them have toy guns', which i spose might suggest they are getting too much exposure to violence on tv (assuming they're not in real life), in which case maybe it's a question of where you draw the line in this society where, as you say, the survivalist mentality seems increasingly relevant. i just don't think it's too nice meself to glamorize violence or authoritarianism...
like redcres says, i think the customizing/disfiguring idea is interesting, but as it seems to work both ways, with militarisation of corporate uniform, e.g. yr "security consultants" working for the occupiers in Iraq, so it's a still a potentially dodgy road to travel.
 

Grievous Angel

Beast of Burden
sufi said:
welll, paul,
is there policy on toys like guns? you often hear parents say that 'o yes kids will just pretend a stick is a gun if you do'nt let them have toy guns', which i spose might suggest they are getting too much exposure to violence on tv (assuming they're not in real life), in which case maybe it's a question of where you draw the line in this society where, as you say, the survivalist mentality seems increasingly relevant. i just don't think it's too nice meself to glamorize violence or authoritarianism...

Excellent, I get a chance to talk about the kids!

Well, there's toy guns and there's toy guns. Felix, the firstborn, doesn't have any guns per se, though he does have this funny hand-held thing that "shoots" little felt discs, and as long he doesn't shoot it at the baby or the cat, that's OK. He also has a toy light-sabre -- it makes the noises and lights up and has both colours for Luke Skywalker AND Darth Vader, you'd love it! And today -- it was his fifth birthday today -- he got a DOUBLE ENDED LIGHT SABRE. How cool is that? Really wicked noises too!

And -- no doubt you'll tell me he's on the road to hell :) -- he does martial arts. (So, that's camo gear on him, plus seeing me in camo gear, plus vaguely gun-like toys, plus martial arts -- no doubt you're thinking he's GOT to be a victim of glamourised violence, right?) He got his first little belt in karate last month. We were SO proud. Of course this doesn't make him any more aggressive -- quite the reverse. Mind you, the baby is MUCH more aggressive than Felix, he's a right little bruiser.

All of which in my mind adds up to fuck all.

Cos, when I was growing up, I had LOADS of toy guns, really realistic ones, and I liked army surplus stuff, and war films, and playing soldiers, and the whole nine yards.

And I was anti-war and anti-violence from the first moment I could articulate the thought.

(Sufi, did you have toy guns? Did they damage you?)

So personally speaking, and this was a long and self-indulgent way of expressing it, I think there are more important things to worry about than whether your kids play with guns, or whether to wear army surplus stuff, or camo gear, or trendy clothes inspired by it. Though we don't really go in for toy guns ourselves cos they make enough mess, noise and trouble when they're "playing nicely", let alone when you let them loose with a toy bren gun. Or a light sabre for that matter. The number of bruises I've got on my shins from the baby swinging that fucking thing around at random...
 

zhao

there are no accidents
2stepfan said:
Cos, when I was growing up, I had LOADS of toy guns, really realistic ones, and I liked army surplus stuff, and war films, and playing soldiers, and the whole nine yards.

And I was anti-war and anti-violence from the first moment I could articulate the thought.


same here. genesis p prolly was the same too
 

AshRa

Well-known member
2stepfan said:
I'm still a first-wave-industrial-era camo gear fetishist whether in army-surplus-store or designer stylee.

Both my sons are currently sitting on the sofa with their kid-sized camo trousers on and they look ACE. (Felix has some camo socks -- cooooooool!)

Bestest thing is when camo style crosses over with rambling gear for that super-practical high-tech vibe...

I've been trying to justify buying this for quite some time - NORWEGIAN SPECIAL FORCES WEAR!!

 

bassnation

the abyss
2stepfan said:
Cos, when I was growing up, I had LOADS of toy guns, really realistic ones, and I liked army surplus stuff, and war films, and playing soldiers, and the whole nine yards.

And I was anti-war and anti-violence from the first moment I could articulate the thought.

i generally agree with this - but i think you have to play it by ear with kids, like most things. siblings have very different personalities and the same strategies don't always pay off for all your children.

my eldest was always good at determining reality from fantasy and is never aggressive.

the younger one on the other hand, well we had to stop him from watching certain cartoons and star wars because he was bashing his brother with the light saber and generally being hostile to other kids. once we'd removed some of these toys and cartoons, things went back to normal.

it was less a moral thing (guns are bad, mmmkay) than a practical one, just want to teach them the right way to behave with their peers, whatever works is good for me.
 
Have been resisting the temptation to reply to this thread for quite a while now, but can't restrain myself any longer. Have to admit I'm absolutely fascinated by militaristic gear - wore army shirts and jackets throughout my teens with big boots; even now much of my wardrobe has a martial sensibility - buckle boots, black shirts with soviet patches, have been known to wear braces, soviet officers hats and so forth to clubs...happen to think Laibach look great, have a large collection of soviet badges, patches, armbands, etc.

There seem to be two ways of cutting this up - either the creeping militarisation of casual wear (the brass-button coats for girls that everyone was wearing last year; the ubiquitous camo - mostly horrible; combat trousers - which actually look quite bad on women I think) is indicative of a trivialisation of the horror of war, the vicious extent of our foreign policy, the death-ward direction of bureaucracy and all that, or the non-practical take-up of this kind of stuff is a kind of critique of the 'official' version of it - that the more these looks and gear is disseminated and (in some ways) has the piss taken out of it, the less likely it is that we'll accept what we're told by those who wear it 'seriously'. Well, maybe.

The added dimension to this second point is a libidinal one - by acknowledging the potential sexiness of uniforms (ok, so not everyone sees it, admittedly), and exploiting it, getting it out in the open then its latent use in more serious situations (aesthetically, there's no doubt the Nazis knew exactly what they were doing with their vision of certain apparel and symbols) is diffused...it's a kind of innoculation...(the gay army-wear faction, women in military gear looking like they won't take any shit and all that)...but it's not straightforward, obv.

Have noticed a certain interesting hypocrisy on this topic, come to think of it. Have met quite a lot of people who profess to abhor men in Nazi gear, but the idea of women in the equivalent is 'different', because 'sexy' or ambiguous - anyone prepared to suggest it's ok for women to wear military gear, tho not men? Would be quite interested.
 

sufi

lala
paul said:
(Sufi, did you have toy guns? Did they damage you?)
yeah a few, but i also remember a constructing some serious & potentially lethal weapons such as bows and arrows and catapults in traditional country-boy style. I'd definitely blame the telly (and comix! :) ) for this rather than my dear ma & pa.

we collude in escalating hostile social environmment & atmosphere by adopting defensive/aggressive fashion postures, like the traditional uniforms such as business suits etc have been replaced not by dressing down workwear such as jeans, but by khakis and camo, representing creeping militarisation of civil society/privatisation of violence
 

Grievous Angel

Beast of Burden
Most mindblowing idea on this thread -- INFINTE THOUGHT LIKES ARMY GEAR! :D Nice one!

Sufi -- re: "we collude in escalating hostile social environmment & atmosphere by adopting defensive/aggressive fashion postures"... three words. Punks versus casuals. Casuals had passive / defensive fashion postures, punks had aggressive ones. I know which ones I used to feel more comfortable around! (Note: I do have an ongoing love for the pink Lacoste polo shirt...)

And -- suits are BACK. I was one of the first into casual gear at work, but people WANT to wear suits again.

Chinos = deffo a part of military style (one of the reasons I like them). But chinos are very hard to wear -- finding ones that actually suit your shape is incredibly difficult. Too narrow in the leg and they look like jodphurs, too wide and they look like baloons. Better off with those very thick cotton black straight-leg pants from Gap, they're very well cut as long as you get ones that fit properly.
 

owen

Well-known member
2stepfan said:
And -- suits are BACK. I was one of the first into casual gear at work, but people WANT to wear suits again.

.

during a brief period as a useful member of society, i was rather irked by the fact that the office i worked in was permanently dress-down: a dubious thing i feel, the attempt to disguise the regimentation of offices by letting people wear jeans and doss on the internet
 

Ness Rowlah

Norwegian Wood
The subject (or its cousin army coats) got mentioned in Prof Gideon Carter's take on fashion in The Sunday Times today

In that context, how can it be that pierce-faced teenage girl and boy losers, who profess support for trendy causes such as peace and love and the feeding of Africa, are still to be found hovering around Camden Lock in army-surplus overcoats, often bearing the insignia of murderous, former communist regimes? Do they think war is funny? Do they think war is cool? I’d like to yank their noses off with their nose rings, the ignorant blighters. Bertie declared: “Either man will abolish war, or war will abolish man.” Let’s start by abolishing these ridiculous coats.
 
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