I like camo as much as the next person.
I fucking love it.
I like that it’s cheap and usually found in musty second-hand shops.
It goes pretty much with everything as long as you stick to the one rule of camouflage in urban environment that is one piece of camo per attire.
The principle of camouflage is to minimize the chances of its wearer being detected. When worn on the battlefield and in the wilderness, it is designed to reduce detection by disrupting the wearer’s outline and merging it with its surroundings.
In the city however, wearing camo is all about making a fashion statement by essentially maximizing one’s visibility.
One day in New York it can propel you on hypebeast streetsnaps and the following it can get you shot by mistake in a violent third world country.
The difference in the outcome really comes down to the streets you decide to walk and to that split second when you pick your OOTD (outfit of the day).
Everything about camouflage etiquette became very clear to me about four months ago on a hot morning in Copan, a small village in the mountains of Honduras.
I had been travelling through the country for the previous week, cruised through San Pedro Sula, statistics in hand the most violent city in the world without seeing a single cop nor a soldier. To be fair I spent the best part of these seven days underwater near Utila Island where you can find few cars and less policemen.
I was feeling easy and lighthearted as I scraped the bottom of my backpack to find my beloved camo T-shirt. I bought it in a military shop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for less than I can remember. It has a beautiful faded colour and an awesome elastic fabric. And it comes with a handy front pocket for drinks (as shown in picture).
I did not think about anything but the fact that I really had to drop my laundry to the hostel-lady cause I had no tanktops left.
I was wandering like a ghost through the cobbled streets of Copan sniffing for the strong smell of black coffee to guide me.
I heard the news in the background and saw her through the window: a local mamacita with a patched apron, super busy sauteing a skillet of red beans. I entered the door with a loud – Hello – too loud in hindsight but I was trying to maximize the chances of her hearing me stepping into the shack. As i walked in I froze at four young soldiers in digital camouflage, forks mid-air while staring at me with a puzzled face. For one second the air was still and I am pretty sure one of the kids glanced at his automatic rifle pointed to the ceiling half way between me and him.
The lady came up at me, blocknotes in the hand saving me and framing one of the most awkward moment of my whole panamerican trip.
Keep rocking your camouflage shorts and that cool camo backpack of yours.
But do yourself a favour: do not wear camouflage in Central America. Do not wear it in Colombia and Ecuador. I have never been to Venezuela but I wouldn’t wear it there neither.
Everywhere else in the American continent you are good.
And people would think you are cool too.