They are two very different industries, operating at the far end of each side of the spectrum. But the influence of military apparel on the fashion industry is undeniable. We explore the history of military fashion and how the two contrasting industries have intertwined throughout the years.
Where did it start?
Without getting too much in to the history of military uniform, the concept was originally created to recognize who was on what side of a war, essentially. But in terms of fashion, the distinctive aesthetic of a specific army uniform makes it perfect to interpret in to a fashion statement. Big boots, rugged looking garments, unique patterns and highly controversial connotations make it an ideal target for a fashion designer. Nowadays, pretty much everything we wear has been influenced in some way by military attire.
The suit is one of the biggest examples of military fashion that is now simply an everyday outfit. It is said that without army uniform the common suit would not even. The concept of having matching trousers, jacket and polished shoes has been taken straight from the Napoleon era among others. According to Esquire; “It was during the early years of the war that Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher saw his soldiers having trouble getting their boots on and off. To solve the problem, he commissioned a shoemaker to design a half-boot with two leather flaps across the vamp held together by laces—essentially the design of the modern dress shoe.”
Eye-wear has been hugely influenced by military fashion throughout history, and will continue to do so. The very concept of Aviator sunglasses has become one of the most iconic and recognizable sunglasses style to date. In their military usage, the sunglasses replaced the outmoded flight goggles used previously, because they were lighter, thinner, and better designed. Writing about the transition of aviators from military gear to commercial product, Vanessa Brown wrote that, “The War was a … revelation of the sheer might, scale, power, and horror of the modern world … [which] necessitated a new kind of military demeanor and gave rise to new definitions of the heroic stance which was to have a profound influence on modern fashion.” Eventually the aviator sunglasses produced by Bausch & Lomb were trademarked as “Ray Bans”. Eye-wear company Randolph Engineering are even the registered supplier of Aviator sunglasses for the American armed forces.
“The War was a … revelation of the sheer might, scale, power, and horror of the modern world … [which] necessitated a new kind of military demeanor and gave rise to new definitions of the heroic stance which was to have a profound influence on modern fashion.” – Vanessa Brown
The list of garments that are influenced by military attire is pretty much endless, think of desert boots, dr. martens, neckties, trench coats and so on. One luxury fashion house that is making a lot of military inspired items at the moment though is Saint Laurent. Military shirts, safari jackets and chunky, 18 hole lace up black boots are among just a few examples of YSL playing with military fashion. This double breasted jacket for spring summer 17 is the perfect example of the theme that currently runs through a lot of the Saint Laurent collection
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