I can’t exactly remember what spurred me to commission this set from Roman, I think at the time I just wanted a US camo that hadn’t been made in to a Crye-style combat set by anyone else yet. At the time, to my knowledge, my set was the first one in existence i.e. the first combat shirt and trousers ever made in this camo pattern. Hard to be certain of course, but the odds are relatively good.
The lower half of the set is based on the G3 combat cut, but I had begin to experiment with removing what I view as extraneous features, building up to what would become the F9 Edition uniform. The waist adjusters, lower leg pockets, ankle cuffs and knee pad height adjusters are omitted here.
Material used throughout is actually cut-up reproduction shelter halves. The ideal fabric for uniforms? No. As bad as you might think though? Also no. It is slightly thicker and a little stiffer than typical cotton blends for uniforms but it’s far from a cardboard suit. It wouldn’t serve it’s wearer vey well in either very hot or very cold weather by modern standards and if I used these to run around a lot then washed them in a machine they would fade fairly quickly, but bear in mind there simply was no other fabric available at the time in this specific camouflage. It hasn’t been printed on to a roll and made available for by-the-yard purchase in a very long time (if ever) and if you check eBay (at the time of writing) you’ll find a very limited selection of items available. Though there are some very basic 60s/70s US issue style repro uniforms for sale if you just love the pattern and want clothing in it ASAP.
The alternative would have been to go through Spoonflower, however they did not offer any suitable base fabrics to print the Wineleaf on to. They did have a wide range of options and a few were fairly heavy duty but the choices were basically either super light materials for dresses or super heavy stuff for cushions and curtains. Once I tracked down the repro shelter halves the cost per square metre worked out quite well, I liked the look of the pattern and as a slight bonus they have the Mitchell/Clouds brown pattern on the reverse so while this set is certainly not reversible overall it does have a cool detail on the inside that shows when the shirt sleeves are rolled.
The irony of all this though is that back in the late-50s/early 60s when this pattern was being issued and used by the US military the only way to make an authentic uniform from it was to cannibalize shelter halves, just as I have had done; not that I knew that fact before having it done. There was also some reproduction fabric made at the time in SE Asia and subsequently used for uniforms, but again, that was unlicensed and not something conducted or sanctioned by the DoD. I think this adds a very interesting and cool extra aspect to this particular set, though if modern ripstop polyester or nylon cotton blend fabric were available I’d still opt for that if I could and don’t recommend the shelter halves for a comfortable, practical uniform.
Despite looking like the G2/AC cut this is actually a G3 shape shirt but with AC full velcro and open elbow pad pockets for compatibility with the elbow pads of that era production from Crye.
My previous success with the fully patterned Tiger Stripe combat shirt I had Roman put together spurred me on to try and continue the theme. This shirt was my first attempt at entirely sourcing the primary fabrics for a uniform ‘build’ including custom printed materials. While I didn’t rate any of the Spoonflower offerings for the sleeves I felt confident some of their synthetic sport fabrics would work nicely for the torso material.
I selected one of their 100% polyester fabrics, had a suitable amount printed and sent it to Roman for incorporation. The pattern itself is spot on and colouration is very good overall, to my surprise admittedly. It is only single side printing (pure white on the inside) and I can’t comment on its’ longevity, breathability, colour-fastness or any other key attributes but it does feel comfortable and my bet would be it will wick fairly well and hold colour better than the rest of the garment.
Close up on the spoonflower 100% polyester printing:
Overall, I really enjoyed bringing this set in to existence and I’m very happy with the aesthetic end result. It’s not particularly practical compared to a quality modern production uniform and I doubt I’d use it for anything more than Instagram, but for a custom one-off using whatever was available it’s pretty nice. If I were to attempt the same thing again today I would definitely go with materials from Vajra to include fully camo printed fabrics for all the primary cotton sections, shirt torso and loop fields. Don’t e-mail them because these materials don’t exist yet, but as they grow as a business I could imagine it is something they might work towards in coming years.
For historical camo info, always check out Camopedia: