Retail

Camouflage Clothing: Functional, Profitable … and Fashionable?

Whether for function and purpose, or fashion and recreation, camouflage sales put money in your pockets and fuel the bowhunting community.
Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

Author: Cassie Scott

Hunters rely on camouflage to conceal themselves from their prey, whether that is deer, ducks or doves. They enter retail shops and purchase Mossy Oak, Realtree or any brand’s pattern that suits their desire.

But now there’s a new trend: People everywhere are buying camo for fun and fashion, not necessarily function. Check out Nike’s camo collection line! Soon people from all walks of life will be sporting the trendy pattern. As a retail storeowner, you can take advantage of this new movement.

 

These shoes, debuted by NBA star LeBron James, received major attention from NBA fans and TV viewership. Camo is worn increasingly more in public for fashion, rather than just in the woods for function. Photo Credit: Barry Andrew D. Bernstein and Harry How

Today, camo designs are showcased on models, runways and in retail stores. But camouflage was initially created for survival. In the animal kingdom, prey species blended with their environment to avoid detection from predators. It wasn’t long before early hunters saw the benefit of camouflage and disguised themselves with twigs, bark and leaves while hunting. Camo also appeared in battle, when the French used muted colors on their uniforms while fighting the Germans. That inspired outdoorsman Jim Crumley to make clothes for hunters with a camouflage pattern he created and patented as “Trebark.”

Since then, the trend has moved past the clothes of bow-toting hunters and onto the handbags, shoes, shirts, swimwear, coats and lingerie of celebrities, stylists and everyday people. Nike featured a camo collection where the pattern was incorporated into several pieces of clothing, including basketball shoes debuted by NBA star LeBron James.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently ran a piece called “No Hiding Fashion World’s Love of Camouflage” and reported that the trend is evident throughout Wisconsin. Author Joe Taschler interviewed Jill Soltau, president and chief merchandising officer for Green Bay-based Shopko stores. Soltau said there are basically two pieces to the camouflage trend: “One is military camo. Those are the types of patterns that are showing up on pouty, wafer-thin runway models, as well as in boutiques and fashion retailers. The other is outdoor camo, which makes up much of the hunting and casual camouflage clothing seen in outdoor stores and discount retailers such as Shopko.”

It appears camo is being worn increasingly more in public, rather than just in the woods.

Another surprising find: females flaunt the pattern far more than men. That’s likely why you’ll see camo clothing accentuated with pinks, purples and light-blue colors.

Soltau believes women and hunters wear everyday camo clothes to promote their lifestyle. She also thinks shows like Duck Dynasty have helped make camouflage chic.

Another recent article, “How Camouflage Clothing Left its Mark on American Culture,” explains that camouflage “has now evolved far beyond its strictly functional origins of concealment. For many, camouflage clothing isn’t worn only to make a fashion statement, but rather it is proudly donned as an expression of the wearer’s subculture and in this instance, patriotism.”

The author adds that camouflage is no longer worn to blend in, but rather to stand out.

The Effect on Bowhunting

For many, hunting is a lifestyle and wearing the camo pattern is a symbol of their dedication and devotion to the sport. To others, the pattern is simply cool and fashionable. No harm can come from adding new fans of the clothing. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

The camo pattern’s popularity, whether sported for outdoorsy, patriotic or stylish reasons, is positive for the hunting community. It brings attention to the sport and lifestyle. The pattern could also serve as a segue into the activity itself.

For many, hunting is a lifestyle and wearing the camo pattern is a symbol of their dedication and devotion to the sport. To others, the pattern is simply cool and fashionable. No harm can come from adding new fans of the clothing. In fact, camouflage might be the perfect conversation starter between hunters and trendsetters.

Selling to New Customers

When stocking your archery shop, always consider your target audience, but also take into account who they might bring shopping with them. Consider how you can engage and attract these folks as customers. Trendy camo fashion might be your answer. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

Whether for function and purpose, or fashion and recreation, camouflage sales put money in your pockets and fuel the bowhunting community. Here are a few ideas for in-store promotions:

  • Dress your mannequins with style to give your customers fresh, trendy ideas. Study how celebrities are wearing camo for inspiration.
  • Order a few fun camo pieces for the fashionistas in your town. Stock a few purses, some lingerie, swimwear or other unique camo-covered options. See how they sell before ordering in bulk.
  • Promote your fun pieces and fashionable mannequins on social media to engage new customers.
  • Develop a relationship with – and provide a good in-store experience for – your customers. This will encourage sales and build trust in your expertise.

Always consider your target audience, but also take into account who they might bring shopping with them. Consider how you can engage and attract these folks as customers. Trendy camo fashion might be your answer.

For more profit-building ideas, check out the ATA’s Retail Growth Initiative. Contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of retail programs, at nicolenash@archerytrade.org or (502) 640-0944 for more information.

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