The Heritage Research Spring Summer 2012 brings you a melting pot of interests and influences from a variety of collaborators that inform this collection.
This seasons concept examines the relationship between clothing, craftsmanship and war during the US military’s involvement in the South East Asian Conflict. Vietnam was the first modern war to be accompanied by a rock and roll soundtrack and the first time American young-men had been drafted into the military since the teenage cultural revolution of the 1950’s. This displacement created a new type of soldier whose opinions of combat were very different to those that preceeded him.
One of the primary influences were legendary combat photojournalists Larry Burrows and Tim Page. Burrows was an M-65 and Longwing brogue wearing Englishman gentleman working for Life magazine who continually accompanied US Special Forces on dangerous missons gaining some of the most powerful combat reportage ever published. While Page was the archetypal rock and roll photographer and the inspiration for Dennis Hoppers crazed character in Cop- pola’s movie classic Apocalypse Now. Two very different convergent characters who would shape our view of the war.
Vietnam and South East Asia’s long tradition of tailoring and fabric making became a staple part of the conflict and a big influence on this collection. Not only making leisure items for American soldiers, the thousands of cottage industry tailors throughout the country were also used to supply uniforms to soldiers on both sides. North Vietnamese Army dress uniforms were primarily sourced from other Communist countries such as Russia and China but their regular combat clothing was undoubtedly mass produced locally as were the Viet Cong’s infamous ‘black pyjama’s’, basic yet functional garments made to blend in with the clothing worn by Vietnamese farmers and villagers.
G.I.’s on R and R (rest and recuperation) would ship out to Saigon or Tokyo and indulge themselves in the hotbeds of bars, shops, drug dens and brothels found in these cities. One of the many pleasures of R and R was getting new clothing made by a local tailor, the Dollar was powerful currency and therefore bespoke clothing was comparatively inexpensive. Soldiers would come back from leave with a new wardrobe often made from outlandish and unusual fab- rics unseen in the US at that point. It became a competition among servicemen to return from R and R with the most ‘crazy’ garment hence the use of the moniker ‘crazy’ to describe this type of ‘in country’ made clothing.
Tigerstripe, the camouflage most associated with the US forces in Vietnam was never actually an official US military issue pattern. When the US began sending CIA and Special Forces ‘advisors’ to South Vietnam in the early 1960’s they were attached to the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) and were authorised to wear their Vietnamese unit’s combat uniform with US insignia to remain covert. These Tiger camo fatigues were custom-made by local tailors due to ARVN uniforms being too small for most Americans. For this reason there were many variations of the basic tiger- stripe pattern depending on which fabric maker supplied the tailor, each maker having its own distinguishing colours and marks. Tiger pattern had originally been developed in the 1950’s from French ‘Lizard’ camo and adapted by the South Vietnamese for their military.
By the mid 60’s US Special Operations units including the Green Berets, LRRP’s, SEAL’s and MACV SOG would routinely have tiger camo fatigues made for themselves as a personal order often to their own specific combat design. Although frowned upon by the military Brass these units generally operated independently of the regular army and were sanctioned by the US Government. In 1969 the 5th Special Forces Group contracted a Vietnamese factory to make fatigues and other items such as boonie hats using ARVN tiger pattern fabric.
Every style in the collection is drawn directly from a Vietnam period accurate military or civilian garment covering both sides of the conflict. Each piece has been authentically laundered to create the appearance and feel of a time worn garment from that era.
Many of the SS12 fabrics have been woven in Japan exclusively for Heritage Research using vintage shuttlelooms to achieve the high quality and aesthetic of cloth from this period. The Gold Tiger pattern camo is custom woven in Eng- land using the correct weight base cotton twill and colours to achieve an exact replica. Other premium quality staple H R fabrics are used such as English Ventile cotton, British Millerain wax cottons and Irish linens.
Many pieces from this collection have been garment washed to create an authentic time worn appearance and truely reflect the styles that influenced it.