Military surplus has connotations of craziness, bunkers and Mad Max, but it’s heavily cannibalized by designers for today’s pricey duds. QM Fashion documents this so thoroughly that if you read enough, you’ll probably find you’re wearing a martial detail/design right now. This “military creep” seems dishonest in a world where perpetual war is a crescendo without end.
A character in “A Separate Peace” creepily equates love of olive drab=love of war=love of country: “…and in these times of war, we all see olivine drab, and we all know it is the patriotic color. All others aren’t about the war; they aren’t patriotic.” As such, I’d like to expunge olive drab from my visual vocabulary. I’ve been testing Earth Safe Finishes products for creating a fully conscientious demilitarized zone in my functional wardrobe. As mentioned in an earlier post, I ultimately plan to tailor the boxy generic fits. If you ever see anything from Los Angeles’s boutique T-shirtier E-Label, they were an inspiration: old thrift-store T-shirts overdyed, overprinted, cut apart and reconstructed with other fabrics.
Why go to all this trouble with surplus, anyway?
1. It’s phenomenally well-made because lives depend on it.
2. Our tax dollars have already paid for it.
3. Or globally, somebody else’s tax dollars have already paid for it.
4. It’s recycling, and a lot of surplus is barely used or is stored at length.
5. It’s affordable (see #2,3).
6. You will support small business; surplus dealers are always independent enterprises.
7. U.S. law requires that military suppliers manufacture in the U.S., so you’re indirectly protecting jobs, building tax bases, etc.
8. You thought there would be 10?
9. I don’t want to end on an even number.
In the photo above (enlarged to show texture – like breakfast cereal!), I used 1/4 ounce of ESF’s FabricMagic to an ounce of water, and over a week applied and reapplied as I gradually increased the black colorant I was using to see what would penetrate and dominate the olive drab. The above results on a very coarse, almost hessian fabric were from 65 drops of black in the 1.25 oz of fixative. The frisson of ESF’s metal powder is just to test its tenacity; this article is worn and cleaned a lot and I’ll update with results.