A different take on camo by Realm & Empire

There is something I need to get off my chest before we go on: I don’t really get the fascination many have for wearing clothes with various camouflage patterns. I don’t think they look nice, and they certainly don’t have any utility value (for starters most are wearing either woodlands or desert camo, not the appropriate urban patterns, so are you wanting to be seen or not, make your mind up!). I wore camo when I did my national service, and haven’t since.

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A close-up of the reconstructed map.

I was rather intrigued by the new camoesque print Realm & Empire came up with for this summer though. Not only does have an interesting look, especially in the blue version, but it also has an interesting story to go with it. And I there is something I appreciate a lot, it’s an interesting story. And a whacking great dollop of different to go with it. This has both, to my mind.

realm and empire tee

I might be stating the bloody obvious, but a bleak April Tuesday in Norway is a long way from the desert of North Africa.

R&E have managed to wangle a special relationship with the motherlode of military gear, otherwise known as the IWM. This allows them to poke around looking for inspiration in the IWM collection. This years most excellent find has to be the map of the Adriatic sea that was sewn into the beret of a member of the Long Range Desert Group. The LRDG operated in the desert of North Africa during WW2, driving round in the sand, behind enemy lines, performing sabotage, reconnaissance and causing trouble for Rommel the desert rat and his Afrika Korps.

This map though contains escape routes, hence why it was handy to have it in your beret. And printed on silk as well, so that it could be folded up nice and small to be hidden away.  Plus, a paper map would no doubt crumble to pieces quickly in the harsh conditions.

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The silk map of the Adriatic sea from the IWM archive.

So what have R&E done with this map? Well, deconstructed it (aka. torn it up),  reassembled  and coloured it, and made it into a rather interesting pattern. The result is a camo with a difference, arguably not even a camo at all, and certainly an interesting story to it. How often to you have the chance of launching into a full-on historical spiel when someone comments “cool t-shirt, chap!”? You’d best read up first though, so you have some actual knowledge to back up your non-camo wearing.

I’ve had a go at working out just what area this map covers, with no luck so far. Anyone?


No Comments

  • coljay 02/05/2016 at 20:22

    I agreed with your first sentence, but then you lost me. It’s not camo, and it doesn’t really have a story. The map in the beret is a story, to be sure, but the chopped up, blurry printing on an ordinary t-shirt…nope.

    Trying too hard.

  • Scratch 03/05/2016 at 13:26

    While more often than not agreeing with you sir, I cannot here & do find quite a few camo’s attractive.
    Should you come by the weighty tome DPM – Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopaedia of Camouflage: Nature, Military and Culture – it will tell you a thing or two about the subject and hopefully even a hard heart such as yours may be able to see some beauty in the medium.

    However, even in this massive book I do not recall seeing a “dessert camo” . Is this disguising yourself as a blancmange a Norwegian thing I wonder? [Fixed, thank you, though I’m sure that with some effort I could come up with something along the lines of camo-wearers looking like a spotted dick, or somesuch, though it may be an ill-advised direction to go.]

  • Duncan Hibberd 08/05/2016 at 12:29

    Nice corduroy jacket in the potting shed where is it from? The jacket not th e potting shed.


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