The Rise and Repercussions of Tactical Apparel

From outdoor gear to everyday apparel, tactical clothing has been growing more and more ubiquitous. At the same time, however, gun violence and armed militias have also been surging. The coinciding upticks prompt the question of whether they might be linked. To explore this, Gear Patrol’s Associate Editor (and CH alum) Evan Malachosky traces the style’s rise beginning with its origins when it was intended for warfare to post-9/11 when public patriotic sentiment and military aesthetics soared. Whether the style’s popularity increased organically through a desire in the market or as a result of strategic marketing (or both), tactical clothing can conflate regular citizens with soldiers. “Using words like ‘tactical’ too loosely, especially in conjunction with military-inspired imagery, as a way to promote gear to a mixed bag of consumers, can be a slippery slope,” writes Malachosky. It “walks a tightrope between signaling technical superiority or means-testing products and stoking an audience seeking products that will vicariously elevate them into the ranks of real service members or, even worse, better equip them to carry out acts of violence.” There’s no stopping people buying these products, but the distinction between consumer-grade and professional-level items must be understood—and, beg the question “Are certain words and images simple marketing hooks or more potentially concerning calls to action?” Read more at Gear Patrol.

Image courtesy of Manddy Wyckens/Gear Patrol