Counter Culture

The Dissidents Uniform


Dissident - a person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.


Gung Ho for Peace

Let's start with the Vietnam anti-war protestors, who fought against the drafting of American children into a foreign war they didn't understand. The propaganda machine worked hard to convince people that this war was necessary to stop the spread of communism. But as veterans returned home and shared their stories, the horrors of the war were revealed, and disillusionment set in. It was at this point that the hippie-veteran look was born, as soldiers started attending demonstrations and writing messages of peace on their uniforms and helmets. The subversion of the uniform became a powerful symbol of dissent.


Earn Your Stripes 

One of the most iconic features of this look was the camouflage pattern, particularly the Tiger Stripe, originally designed for jungle warfare in South Vietnam. US special forces saw how well it worked and began requesting BDU's made from the same pattern. Unable to take the uniforms of deceased soldiers due to sizing issues, tailors in Cambodia and Japan were commissioned to make them unofficially, adding to the variations in pattern and color. The Tiger Stripe, once a symbol of the front lines of war, has since become a powerful symbol of counter-culture.


Army Surplus births a New Era

Fast forward to the 1990s, when hip-hop and skateboarding communities began embracing this dissident era clothing. They sourced cheap, durable clothes from Army surplus stores, particularly BDU jackets in classic American camouflage and cargo pants worn big. Both communities rejected mainstream fashion trends and embraced anti-fashion, creating a look that was rugged, timeless, and subversive.


Peace for Peace’s sake

What could be more worthy of the honourable title of dissident than refusing to partake in in the divisive narrative that seemed almost designed to pit people against each other. A nature loving, peace loving, people loving human that chooses to express themselves through our connection to the natural world. Brands like South2 West8, a high-fashion Japanese fly fishing brand, embody this timeless and rugged appeal, creating a look that's both functional and stylish.

In conclusion, the subverted uniform of the Vietnam anti-war protestors has had a lasting impact on fashion and culture, serving as a powerful symbol of dissent and anti-authoritarianism. And while fashion trends may come and go, the timeless appeal of the dissident uniform will continue to inspire future generations to stand up against injustice and embrace their own unique style.