GQ Spring Trend Report: Camo

From multi-functional footwear to workwear staples, our GQ Spring Trend Report series has covered a lot of ground thus far. Today’s installment takes a 180 from last week’s soft, sun-washed colors to focus instead on a look with rugged military roots: disruptive pattern material—more commonly known as Camo.

Below, GQ Creative Director Jim Moore and Deputy Editor Michael Hainey offer tips on incorporating small doses of this powerful pattern into your wardrobe:

Take their advice to heart as you check out our camouflaged favorites below, and browse additional options here: MORE CAMO
[Note, the camo jacket up top is by Rag & Bone, and will be available for pre-order starting mid-May.]

Scotch & Soda Jacket | WeSC Tank Top | Vanguard Shirt

Diesel Backpack | Obey Five-Panel Hat | New Balance 884 Running Shoe

Splendid Mills Jeans | Scotch & Soda Chinos | Dockers ‘Alpha Khaki’ Chinos

Bill Adler 1981 Reversible Belt | Ivy Prepster Pocket Square | Jack Spade Travel Kit


Look for new GQ Spring Trend Report videos in the weeks to come—
and shop all eight of our GQ-approved trends, from cotton suits to camo, here:


Camo File: Part 1

Researching the origin and influence of DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) turned up more interesting results than we had space for last time. Get some inspiration below, and SHOP CAMOUFLAGE in The Rail Department for ‘disruptive’ jackets, pants, accessories and more.

Kane & Unke Jacket | via Nickel Cobalt

(L): Maharishi founder and DPM expert Hardy Blechman [source]
(R): The 944-page compendium of Blechman’s research on the subject [source]

Dries Van Noten | The Notorious B.I.G.

Andy Warhol | Topshop at Nordstrom

Milan Vukmirovic, via | The Rail by Public Opinion Thermal

Ivy Prepster Bow Tie | Pattern mixing, via

A little goes a long way, via | Topshop Sweater


The Natural Evolution of Camo

Like most staples of modern menswear, Disruptive Pattern Material (that’s DPM for short—aka camouflage) has serious history.

The hand-crafted camo above (top left) was painted by Eugène Corbin in 1914, when the French military first commissioned artists to experiment with less-visible uniforms (advances in long-range weaponry having deemed the traditional, brightly colored infantry coats utterly obsolete).

To the right of that is an ‘Elm Leaf’ motif first worn by Cuban military advisers. Third over is the distinctive ‘Tigerstripe’ pattern, a Vietnamese version of the French ‘Lizard‘ print. Below those three is a modern twist on traditional British DPM from the ’60s, designed in 2004 by London brand Maharishi—whose founder, Hardy Blechman, literally wrote the book on camouflage.

(Check out Blechman’s detailed history of 25 camo patterns at


The work of naturalist and painter Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921) influenced the initial creation and implementation of military camouflage in WWI. In his succinctly titled 1909 book, Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom: An Exposition of the Laws of Disguise Through Color and Pattern; Being a Summary of Abbott H. Thayer’s Disclosures, he contended that even ornate animals (like a peacock, above) are well-adapted to blend into their surroundings.

(Much more information on Thayer and his paintings at The Smithsonian.)


Soon Italy, Germany, America and Russia followed France’s lead, innovating and experimenting with camouflage styles of their own. The proliferation of unique patterns was not based on artists’ whims alone, however—this was serious science. Members of the US Engineering Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) became experts in dyestuff chemistry, color science, and spectrometer measurement.

(Above, Cuban and Russian forces wear a horizontal ‘Lizard’ pattern. More at The Atlantic. Also find a thorough summary of every nation’s standard-issue camo print at Wikipedia.)


In the ’70s and ’80s, members of underground subcultures like punk and the increasingly political reggae of the time began donning combat gear—not as a fashion statement so much as a symbolic declaration of their own aggressive opposition to violence, injustice, and mainstream society at large.

(The Clash, 1982. Photo by Bob Gruen, via The Selvedge Yard. Click through for many more classic Clash images.)


Today, you don’t have to reject society to wear camouflage—but it does add a rebellious vibe to anything you pair it with (especially a suit). Just bear in mind: Pulled out of their element and placed in the concrete jungle, naturalistic camo patterns do the opposite of what they were invented for—they stand out. Which means even a little camo goes a long way.

(Photo courtesy of the pattern-mixing masters at Street Etiquette.)


jackets, hats, backpacks, pants and more—
in The Rail Department.

[Photos via Complex, The Smithsonian, The Atlantic, The Selvedge Yard, and Street Etiquette. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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