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“ Fashion is not something

that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with

ideas, the way we live,

what is happening. ”

- Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel

(August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971)

Parsons the New School for Design PSDS 2000: Innovation FINAL DOSSIER Spring 2014

Laser Sailboat for Wallpaper Magazine’s Salon del Mobile exhibition Mariam Bantjes August 2010

Duality: The Union of Opposites A/W 12 Collection Maharishi

Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom Abbott Handerson Thayer 1909


Topic Selection


Today, the words “innovation” and “technology” are often used interchangeably, but we do not believe that the two terms are synonymous. Therefore, when it came to picking a topic to explore for our final project, we focused our preliminary research on innovations which originated as concepts or ideas, rather than physical objects. Of course, we wanted to develop our project around a subject that all three of us were interested in and curious about - something which we’d experienced or personally observed, and thus could strongly relate to. We therefore turned to fashion as our main source of inspiration, as we believe that the industry, operating as its own vibrant universe, not only regularly undergoes surprising transformations, but inherently influences and is influenced by other macro systems. Such natural characteristics of the fashion world have allowed it to produce countless innovations, each with its own marked evolutionary trajectories that are built heavily upon system-system rapport and rich in exemplifications of Everett Rogers’ key concepts.

Our Innovation

“We think of camouflage as a distinctive pattern, a concrete thing. But the real history of camouflage is a history of action—it’s much more verb than noun. […] Camouflage wasn’t only, or even primarily, concerned with hiding. It was also about being seen: confusing the eye, subverting reality, asserting both individuality and group identities. Camouflage is a pattern, a collection of conflicting verbs, and a surprisingly multivalent worldview.”1 Jude Stewart’s illuminative words reveal how our innovation’s story certainly extends beyond the fashion world - in terms of its meaning and purpose (i.e. concealment vs. self-expression), its canvas (i.e. people vs. things), and its mode of production (i.e. hand-painted vs. computer generated). However, our main intentions are to (a) trace the pattern’s evolution as a fashion print via its (b) regular reinvention by (c) various key early innovators, as we believe that a, b, and c all effectively capture Rogers’ four main elements of diffusion (“…the process in which an (1) innovation is (2) communicated through certain channels (3) over time among the members of a (4) social system”2).

1. Stewart, Jude. “Hiding in Plain Sight: A Visual History of Camouflage.” 17 September. 2013. Web. 11, May. 2014. http://logger. para. 2-3. 2. Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovations. 5th Edition. New York, NY: 1995.





We established two main complementary “buckets” of variables which also have a chronological quality: (1) the history of the print in military design, and (2) the cultural history of the print. We thus took a ‘three-line ’approach to our legacy map, in order to show relationships within and between time lines.


Hiding in the City No. 69 Liu Bolin 2008


Team Dynamics

As aforementioned, one of the unique attributes of the camouflage print which it can thank its “immortality” as an innovation to is its ability to be reinvented by anyone. In the hands of military scientists, the pattern can morph into an effective tool of stealth and deception, rendering its wearers nearly invisible to enemy eyes; commanded by artists, it can serve as an artistic technique to create visually engaging and unexpected works; finally, when adopted by fashion designers, it becomes an invaluable source of creative inspiration which accommodates for both perceptual play and revenue generation. As a team, we too realized the significant value inherent in reinvention. As we faced numerous project challenges throughout the semester, we had to constantly “reinvent” ourselves as a team. We especially experienced this after receiving TA feedback on the draft of our legacy map, which induced us to pursue several map modifications in order to more clearly communicate our map’s aims to viewers. The main issue, for instance, was poor connectivity between the time lines - our first iteration depicted them more as three separate entities, rather than ones closely linked together. Better design decisions, such as more effective utilization of color, scale, etc., also needed to be made in order to markedly portray hierarchies and uncouple important information from less pertinent ones. As we’d initially designated one line per team member, such that each topical “bucket” received its own just attention, the obstacle of integrating individual work into one cohesive map - in terms of both content and design - also provoked our reinventiveness.



We decided that adopting EDUCAUSE Learning’s “7 Things”3 approach for our analysis would be best to not just give our final report structure, but also ensure that we capture our essential investigative findings for readers, especially given the fact that our legacy map is quite information-heavy and thus requires a clear explanation of how our complex topic can be understood and broken down.

What is it?

The camo print is a pattern which “arose from a perfect intellectual storm in the early 20th century, drawing on theories of natural selection, Gestalt psychology, optics and cognition.”4 Rogers noted that innovations can fall into three categories ideas, practices, and objects - and thus what makes the print so spectacular is that although its physicality appropriates it to fit more into the latter genre, it is still ultimately a manifestation of an innovative idea - specifically, the one fomented by early scientists, artists, and armies to take the concept of perceptual gameplay from the natural world and adopt it for their own purposes, whether they were ones which shared the same goal of concealment for the sake of survival as animals, or aims which capitalized upon the mass appeal and creative, symbolic value inherent in patterned disorder.

Who’s doing it?

Fashion itself is a social process - what we see on both catwalks and sidewalks are results of active interplays between culture, politics, commerce, etc. - in essence, people. The print as a fashion innovation, then, is also the outcome of constant information exchanges between various social systems, both within the fashion world, and between fashion and other subcultural structures. Indeed, outside of the fashion industry, various other groups have planted their stakes in camo culture: scientists, psychologists, artists, militaries, students, musicians, celebrities (to name just a few), and this important “who” component of our analysis will be further explored in our legacy map section.

How does it work?

There are three main methods of camouflage: crypsis, which means blending in with one’s surroundings; mimesis, defined as making an object look like something else; and motion dazzle, which employs bold patterns to allow an object to be difficult to perceive when it is moving. Although the concept of camouflage was first used by people on ships, the idea of shifting its canvas to the human body - in this case, printing it on the clothes people wear - still required the manipulation of two basic elements: color and pattern. Colors are usually of dull hues - ones which mimic the predominate ones existing in the particular environment of interest. Mottled patterning can then also be added to achieve more visual disruption - in short, exploiting our brains’ tendency to seek continuity when analyzing visual information.

Why is it important?

The significance of camo clothing differs between its user groups. For militaries, it’s a life-saving tool especially important in combatting stealth-detecting technologies, such as radar and night vision devices. For wild game enthusiasts, it blends them in with their environments such that they can effectively sneak up on unsuspecting prey. For artists and fashion designers, it provides a wealth of inventive inspiration, helping them create provoking and unexpected designs. For other subcultural groups - such as hip-hop artists and students - it serves as a powerful agent of self-expression and political statement-making. For firms selling gadgets, automobiles, and other consumer goods, the print’s incorporation in package and product design serves as a fantastic revenue-nabbing strategy. And for mass consumers, the print lets them own a piece of a trend - to not just emulate celebrities and communicate their participation in fashion-forwardness, but to also enjoy opportunities in reinventing and personalizing what’s considered “in”.

3. EDUCAUSE Learning. “7 Things You Should Know About.” EDUCAUSE: Research & Publications . 2014. Web. 11, May. 2014. http://www.educaus


4. Stewart, Jude. “Hiding in Plain Sight: A Visual History of Camouflage.” 17 September. 2013. Web. 11, May. 2014. http://logger. para. 4.

What are its downsides?

The massification of the print may dilute its symbolic value for social systems which initially adopted it for religious and/ or political reasons. Also, its use by war-based professions is ultimately one of a violent nature - that is, rendering print wearers to be more effective killers. Finally, the challenge of developing a military camo print that can both achieve perfect concealment in all environments and be mass produced has resulted in a “$5 billion boondoggle”5 by the U.S. Army.

Where is it going?

We believe that the encompassing reach of camouflage as a fashion print will continue to exponentially expand as the innovation continues to progress along Rogers’ bell curve. Persistent use by the social systems previously described, combined with its likely adoption by groups it has not yet touched, will allow the camo print to ultimately enjoy what we call “innovation immortality”. Moreover, as the print has such a long historical legacy and has been embraced by numerous social systems, its presence as an important fashion innovation is difficult to ignore, let alone be completely unaware of. Finally, the print’s future trajectory in the fashion world will also be heavily shaped by innovations in other fields, especially technologies which provide designers more avenues of experimentation, and mass-media ones which amplify the ease at which camo culture is communicated, shared, and observed.

What are the implications of broad diffusion and adoption of this innovation?

The camo print’s broad diffusion and rapid rate of adoption has certainly not been limited to just the fashion world; its innovation lineage is regularly marked by subgroup-subgroup interaction. Camouflage as a culture in itself, then, has proven many of the theories proposed by Rogers, particularly his assertions concerning why some innovations become more widely diffused than others. For instance, the print, as a means of concealing people, proved to be more effective than previous methods (high level of relative advantage). It also carries universal appeal - that is, is consistent with existing values for multiple social groups (high level of compatibility). Next, camouflage as a fashion print does not require its wearers to have a strong grasp of how it actually works (low level of complexity); in fact, one of the main impetuses behind its sustained success is its open and experimental quality, which allows users to “learn by doing” as they invent how the print’s styled themselves (high level of trialability). Finally, thanks to its utilization by multiple social groups, the print has been exposed to even the less fashion-forward members of consumer society, whether it be through photographs of soldiers dressed in camouflage uniforms, through gallery exhibitions showcasing the works of renown pop artists like Andy Warhol, or through paparazzi shots of celebrities sporting a look of camo-cool (high level of observability). Now finally, by confirming such diffusion principles of Rogers, the camouflage print can serve as a general framework for understanding innovations, which, if utilized by innovation researchers and change agencies, can render their aims of introducing innovations to a new user group more successful. Two key takeaways from our analysis, for example, are that “a higher degree of reinvention leads to a faster rate of adoption”, and also “a higher degree of sustainability”6. Such justifications of Rogers’ generalizations will facilitate the supplantation of the pro-innovation bias: its position that innovations should not be reinvented, for instance, and that “one-shot” portrayals (rather than longitudinal ones which capture the time dimension our legacy map so notably established as of upmost importance) of an innovation’s story are sufficient.

5. Engber, Daniel. “Lost in the Wilderness.” Slate. 5, July 2012. Web. 9, May. 2014. science/2012/07/camouflage_problems_in_the_army_the_ucp_and_the_future_of_digital_camo_.html. para. 2. 6. Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovations. 5th Edition. New York, NY: 1995.





Legacy Map

Shown on the preceding two page map; certainly, camo culture’s encompas complex in content, and large in scale. W both an explanation for our “three-line” a innovation, such that in this section, we c specific dates and elaborate on captions.


p: Overview

es was the final iteration of our legacy ssing reach resulted in our design to be We therefore opened our dossier with approach and an overall analysis of our can discuss why we chose to include




Country of Origin: Germany Year: 1930


Country of Origin: Britain Year: 1960



Country of Origin: Germany Year: 1935

Country of Origin: Britain Year: 1942



Country of Origin: US Year: 1960

Country of Origin: US Year: 1971


Country of Origin: France Year: 1950


Country of Origin: US Year: 1981


Country of Origin: Vietnam Year: 1960


Country of Origin: Canada Year: 1997


As the use of the print by the military was an innovation of its own - it gave birth to the term “military camouflage” - we felt it necessary to include in our map a chronological narrative of what the camo print actually looked like within its original system. It’s easy to see from the first line how the print’s design followed a steady evolutionary “flow”, as earlier conceptualizations certainly influenced succeeding ones. It’s important here to mention the relationship between early innovators and end users - the print’s rate of adoption undoubtedly wouldn’t have enjoyed such rapidity had military camo print designers not developed iterations which harkened the needs of soliders - that is, to be “invisible” from enemy eyes. The “use value” of the print, then, within this social system, recycles back to its origins in the natural world - how naimals like owls, zebras, and geckos use camouflage to protect themselves in the wild by blending into their surroundings. Hence, the type of terrain of battle locales heavily influenced the colors and textures of print designs. Natural selection, then, as a source of inspiration for artists and a topic of interest for scientists, primed the repurposing of the camo concept by the military - specifically, the group of WWI French artists, dubbed “camoufleurs”, who replaced the brightly colored uniforms of soldiers with less conspicuous ones in duller shades. Also of particular significance is the impact of technology on our innovation, especially in terms of how the pattern’s made and what it is printed on. Computers, for instance, have since replaced brushes and paintstrokes in the camo print’s production, resulting in more pixelated designs, such as Canada’s CADPAT and the US’s MARPAT.


performs a major role in the social construction of

Clothing choices provide an excellent field of studying how people intrepret a specific form of (otherwise known as

for their own purposes, one that includes strong norms about appropriate appearances at a particular point in time

well as an extraordinary variety of alterfashion) asnatives. One of the most visible markers of and therefore useful in maintaining or subverting symbolic boundaries,

clothing is an indication of how

in different eras have perceived

their positions in social structures and negotiated status

boundaries .

- Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing by Diana Crane (2000)


The most important takeaway from this line is how the camouflage print’s use by multiple social systems confirms how its reinventive quality is a chief reason for both its wide-spread and sustained diffusion. A further exploration of our main categories of main camo culture participants outside of fashion is discussed to the right, though it’s important to note that the subcultural groups who’ve shaped and been shaped by our innovation are certainly not limited to these five.


“If you add camo to anything, it instantly becomes awesome.” - Jase Robertson

Jim Crumley posing in his “Trebark” design, 1980s


Artists & Scientists

Notable People: • Pere Borell del Caso (oil painter, trompe l’oeil oil painting - Escaping Criticism, 1874) • Sir Edward Poulton (zoologist, studies on animal camouflage - The Colours of Animals, 1890) • Abbott Handerson Thayer (artist, principle of countershading - “Thayer’s Law”, 1909) • Pablo Picasso (artist, Cubist theory, 1915) • Andy Warhol (artist, pop-colored camo - Camouflage Series, 1986) Key Contributions: • Gestalt theory, mechanics of human perception (scientists) • trompe l’oeil, color theory, countershading (artists)

Maya Doll by Pablo Picasso, 1938


Notable People: • Major Denison (British Army, Brushstroke print, 1942) • Lieutenant Colonel Tim O’Neill (US Army, Dual Texture print, 1970) Key Events: • WWI (Germany, earliest form of printed camouflage - aircraft lozenge print, 1917) • WWII (Italy, camo-printed paratrooper uniforms, M1929 Telo mimetico, 1929) • Cold War (RAND Project, advancements in aerial radar, 1946) • Vietnam War (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, symbol of political protest, 1956) • Operation Desert Storm (Barbara Bush, wears Chocolate Chip print, 1990)

radar installations at Battery B by US Army, 1960s

Students / Anti-War Groups

Notable People: • Peter Coldwell (founder, Volunteers for Peace, 1968) • Mark Hartford (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, print as promotional tool, 1971) • Ian Hamilton (artist, anti-war screen print - Arcadia, 1973) • Michael Hoffman (founder, Iraq Veterans Against the War, 2004) Key Contributions: • creation of “Cue-to-Action” art • creation of new use value: promotions/marketing • reversal of print’s meaning (from war to anti-war and/or patriotism)

propaganda poster by Houle Advertising, 1971


Notable People • Public Enemy (Black Power hip-hop group, camo-printed T-shirt designs, 1982) • Acoustic Ladyland (jazz/punk band, album cover - Camouflage, 2004) • Dhadza D (dance hall artist, “The reason why most artistes are now wearing camouflage is because it draws the public’s attention very fast and when we perform in that regalia the fans take our acts more seriously.”, 2014) • Bono / U2 (Givenchy orange camouflage silk scarf, 2014) Key Contributions: • creation of new use value: branding, statement-making, etc.

Mass Consumer

Notable People • Charlie Chapin (actor, papier-mache bark costume - Shoulder Arms, 1918) • Jim Crumley (hunter, “Trebark” Magic Marker design, 1970s) • Bill Jordan (hunter, “cryptic clothing”, 1986) • Thaisa Frank (writer, short stories on love and loss - A Brief History of Camouflage, 1992) • (writer, science fiction novel - Camouflage, 2004) • Robertson clan (“red-neck” culture, reality television stars - Duck Dynasty, 2012) Key Contributions: • global exposure of the print through its use in various industries - film, literature, etc.


U2 singer Bono wears Givenchy camo-printed scarf, 2014

Pacifist Preppers: Part I A/W 13 Collection Maharishi


As aforementioned, the treble-line approach to our map allowed us to narrow our focus and capture our main objectives of (a) illuminating how the print’s reinventive ability is a key driver of its rapid rate of diffusion, and (b) portraying how an innovation influences and is influenced by the outer world. Particular takeaways from the relationship between lines include: • between the military and fashion system: (a) a shared “canvas” for the print (people, via the clothing they wear) and shared means of production (specifically, at the advent of digital change, ones which utilize innovative technologies) despite the pursuit of divergent aims (concealment vs. “standing out” for self-expressive purposes); and (b) a distinction between the type of innovation decision (for instance, the introduction of the UCP was based more on the authoritative and collective choice of the US Army, while the decision to adopt the camouflage print by consumers and fashion designers is individually-based). • between the fashion system and overall culture: (a) the overlap of macrolevel trends (ranging from art, music, film, science, etc.) and commerce; and (b) different social groups have their own distinct conceptualizations of “value” (hence, signifying whether the print’s relative advantage is defined in terms of stealth and life preservation, creative inspiration, trend participation, and/or revenue generation).


As it is our project’s central theme, we felt it necessary to explain our fashion time line’s chief components.

Memento Mori: Year Of The Snake S/S 13 Collection Maharishi


The color spectrum of the line itself represents the print’s rate of diffusion through the fashion system; earlier periods certainly witnessed slower paces than later ones, as information-sharing instruments, such as social media, were not yet in existence and thus could not trigger the print’s current diffusive velocity.

1914 a change in canvas

from ships to the human body

1914 - 1918: WWI Origins Interestingly, the idea of concealment for the sake of warfare was first seen not on people, but on ships - Mediterranean pirates, for instance, painted their vessels blue-gray to blend in with the high seas. However, during WWI, the French Army realized that the concept could just as well be utilized to hide their soldiers. Adopting the disruptive pattern to another form - that is, the human body - was in itself an innovation, and created the playspace for future designers of both military and consumer apparel to generate future ones.

Within image captions, names of notable early innovators, such as designers Elsa Schiaparelli, Marimekko, and Hardy Bleckman, are marked in pink. Quotes which illuminate their personal reflections on camo culture are shown near From her Spring 1940 collection, a camo-printed their images. taffeta by Elsa Schiaparelli,

To express why the particular events portrayed were chosen to be included, each is summarized under both a light bulb (which served to mark the important change which occurred thanks to that moment in camo culture’s fashion history, whether it was a change in canvas, meaning, etc.), and a bolded title (i.e. “1914-1918: WWI Origins”). Key Rogers’ terms and concepts are then noted in black. PURPOSE: concealment


PURPOSE: fashion design

PURPOSE: self-expression



one of the first fashion designers to use “modern” camouflage in her work.





PURPOSE: profit/sales


SUBCULTURE: hip-hop/music -

SUBCULTURE: anti-military MARKET SHARE: 100% penetration

Finally, the thin, colored paths which connect the fashion line to the two others trace relationships between the three, with blue ones mapping connections in shared (or lack of shared) purposes between the fashion and military systems, and orange ones plotting mutual influences and subgroup input between the fashion world and overall culture.


Finally, we conclude with two remarkable ways in which



Memento Mori: Year Of The Snake S/S 13 Collection Maharishi

Camo Immortal  

"Camo Immortal." The Legacy of the Print as a Fashion Innovation. Date Completed: May 2014. Brief: Innovation - Final Project. This final do...