By Amanda Rosenblatt
Special to NFP
Most associate it with those who serve us in the military. Many traditional Americans still thank those in uniform for their service when they see them in public.
What happens when this pattern is no longer exclusively associated with those in the military? Especially since 2012, whether it's U.S. woodland or digital in pattern, camouflage has been prevalent on the style scene.
Michael Kors has an entire line called Camo Chic, as well as the retailer Guess offering many camo options. American-made bag brand Timbuk2 based out of San Francisco allows you to use two different styles of camo when making custom bags. There are also Army/Navy surplus stores where civilians stack up on gear, whether for survival or to find something clever to wear.
There are those who are vehemently against this fashion trend. While for some it is an aesthetic issue, many believe civilians are being insulting to the actions and commitment the camouflage stands for and feel they do not deserve to wear these colors.
A piece for YouLookFab by Angie Cox touched on this subject back in January of 2013. "Most find the pattern overly masculine, too 'young', and quite ugly," she stated about her clients, as she has been a fashion buyer and stylist for over 14 years. "Some also find it distasteful to sport a pattern that is associated with armed conflict."
At the end of the piece, she welcomed her readers to share their opinions on the fashion trend. Among the 113 comments posted, the response was mixed. If it wasn't people responding purely on how they liked or disliked the color scheme, the debate turned toward military and hunting association with the fashion trend.
"The allusion to war and the military is too strong for me," said YLF visitor janestyle, who calls herself a former military brat and added she won't buy anything camo for her own children. "It feels to me like the fashion industry picks this up because we as a world are seeing more images of war and soldiers in camo, so it is more popular."
"I don't like it," added another YLF user, shevia. "I see too many Army uniforms as it is." Others, like YLF commenter delabelle, said they love it, especially those who are Army vets. They find it to be a bold look for females.
Other fashion-oriented blogs, such as J's Everyday Fashion, collected opinions on the trend, while writer April Daniels Hussar voiced her opposition to the fashion trend via the blog The Stir via Café Mom. "Why won't this awful trend DIE?" April asks passionately. "You know who I think looks great in camouflage? People in the MILITARY, that's who. The rest of us look like weird posers."
Social media maven and Internet celebrity iJustine, aka Justine Ezarik, is known for many things. Aside from her intense passion for the video game "Call of Duty," she is also well-known for her love of camo fashion. She sports a Michael Kors camo bag, has vast attire sporting the pattern, and her Instagram account has images of her receiving camo gifts, or sporting her camo accessories.
Being a public figure, iJustine is aware of the scrutiny she receives, especially from those online who comment without discretion. This also applies to her wearing of the camo pattern, as she has been insulted for that particular action within her Instagram comments numerous times.
In her upcoming memoir, iJustine addresses her love of this fashion trend, inadvertently declaring it is not meant to insult anyone. She speaks of growing up in rural Pennsylvania as a child, where her family raised chickens and neighboring farm animals would often wander into their yard. "I believe this strange sort of upbringing also explains my enduring love of camouflage clothing," she said.
Curating existing content for comments on the camo trend is all well and good, but how about hearing from the source directly? Here is the point of a view of a veteran on this topic exclusively for this piece.
"Camouflage has been a popular fashion trend for as long as I can remember," said Shawn Goodwin, who is a veteran Navy FMF corpsman and a former TV reality show personality from Syfy's "Destination Truth."
"As a military veteran, I personally see nothing wrong with this and it can also be perceived as support for the individuals that wear this as a uniform," Goodwin said. "In fact, we fight for individual's rights, so the right to wear a certain pattern attire is definitely right up there."
Goodwin is a veteran who has worked hard to represent his fellow veterans who are struggling, especially with his current project of developing his own nonprofit. Despite his liberal view on civilians wearing camouflage, he does have one request of the public where the fashion trend is concerned.
"There is a clear and concise differentiation between wearing a camouflage pattern and wearing a uniform item, which is not OK unless you earned that right and wear it correctly per uniform regulations," he said, speaking to those who buy these uniform items in military surpluses or thrift stores. "When a member of the military sees a uniform item being worn by a civilian, it is both disrespectful and unearned.
"A military uniform item is issued to a military member to wear while on duty. Uniforms are important to discern a member's branch and military affiliation, and they have been used to maliciously gain access to U.S. military bases by non-military individuals."
"We fight so they (civilians) don't have to," Goodwin added. "We love our civilians so much that we are willing to die for them. ... I support your fashion trend in full, so please support my coveted uniform and stick with non-uniform camouflage apparel."
What do you, the readers, think? Do you wear camouflage items? Do you shop at military surplus stores? Has Shawn's point of view on the topic changed yours? Share your opinion, and then share this article so your friends can weigh in.
Amanda Rosenblatt is an in-house writer for VA Home Loan Centers, which is based in San Diego and serves veterans, active duty and their families. Visit the organization's website or follow VA HLC on Twitter.