Hunter Chic: No Hiding Fashion World’s Love of Camouflage

Image

(MCT)
MILWAUKEE _ Camouflage clothing is in vogue _ and not just among those who are trying to remain invisible to white-tailed deer and other critters.
"It's a trend that is most popular now in the U.S. and Europe, but has seen its time in nearly every part of the world," said Jordan Dechambre, a Milwaukee-based style expert.
In addition to guys in tree stands and duck blinds across Wisconsin, celebrities including Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and Sarah Jessica Parker have been spotted wearing camo gear.
"Camo has been an important trend over the past couple seasons and shows no sign of slowing down," Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend for Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl's Department Stores, said in an email. "While re-colored and abstract iterations make it look new, the classic camo can also feel modern when mixed with softer colors like ballet pinks and creamy neutrals."
The fashion appeal of camo comes as no surprise to Al Lobner.
"I always thought that," said Lobner, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters' Association. "The rest of the world is starting to figure it out."
Lobner, 60, said he has been wearing camo for at least 30 years. He has a closetful of the stuff. So do a lot of other people these days.
"The fact that camouflage is more easily accessible than ever _ whether it's from local boutiques or national retailers _ makes it much more convenient to rock the trend," Dechambre said. "'Standing out' in camouflage is no longer an oxymoron."
(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
Fall is prime time for camouflage in Wisconsin. The state is a global deer hunting destination, with more than 633,000 hunters from every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries having purchased gun deer-hunting licenses in 2012, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Of those licenses, nearly 586,000 were purchased by residents. That's more than 10 percent of the state's population.
(END OPTIONAL TRIM)
"Obviously you wear (blaze) orange when it comes to rifle season but other than that," camo is the order of the day, said Lobner, who lives in Milladore in central Wisconsin. "It's just the way it is up here."
Archery hunters especially rely on camouflage to try to be invisible to deer. The DNR says more than 250,000 bow hunters harvested more than 93,000 deer in 2012. Hunters also rely on camouflage when they are pursuing ducks, geese, turkeys, bear and other animals.
"Around here, it's not a fashion statement. It's just what they're wearing," said Mike Brust of Wausau, who is president of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association.
"From a hunter's standpoint, it's nice to be out in front of the trend."
Camo reflects a lifestyle as much as it reflects fashion, said Jill Soltau, a Wisconsin native who is president and chief merchandising officer for Green Bay-based Shopko stores.
With stores based primarily in small cities and rural towns in the Midwest, Mountain, North Central and Pacific Northwest regions of the U.S., the chain has made camouflage a big part of its merchandise offerings, Soltau said.
There are basically two pieces to the camouflage trend, Soltau said. One is military camo. Those are the types of patterns that are showing up on pouty, wafer-thin runway models as well as in boutiques and fashion retailers.
The other is outdoor camo, which makes up much of the hunting and casual camouflage clothing seen in outdoor stores and discount retailers such as Shopko.
"The growth of outdoor camo has really been influenced by pop culture and reality TV," Soltau said. "Cable shows like 'Duck Dynasty' have celebrated this outdoor lifestyle. They've made it chic. Outdoor camouflage has become very cool."
"It's cool to be country today."
And it's not just guys who are in on the trend.
"Our core customer _ and this is no different than most of retail _ is female," Soltau said. "The mom or the female head of the household does most of the shopping."
That has led to all sorts of colorful camo patterned clothing, including pinks and purples hitting the market.
"Many, many women are out there hunting," Soltau said. "They love the lifestyle. They really relate to the product. They'll buy the pink for just hangin' out and saying 'hey, you know, I really love this lifestyle and I'm proud of what I do.'"
The state's natural resources department says it sold nearly 30,000 first-time hunter licenses for last year's deer season and nearly 10,000 of those licenses were sold to women.
"Our women's camo is our biggest growing sub-department in our whole camo department," said Casey Zeigler, clothing manager at the Cabela's outdoor store in Richfield. "Women's and children's (camo) is just blowing up on us."
The hullabaloo surrounding camouflage doesn't come as a shock to Jody Clowes, exhibitions manager at the James Watrous Gallery, part of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Madison.
Clowes was curator for an exhibit in 2010 that included an exploration of landscape through fabric and embroidery. Camouflage was a part of that.
"It's just surprisingly long-lived," Clowes said. "It's got legs."
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s