There. I said it. Never thought those words would come out of my mouth in that order (or any order), but the camouflage trend has received the Jenner stamp of approval. The youngest of the Jenner clan recently launched her version of camo apparel via her official online store. Doesn’t matter what people think about their show or lifestyle, because the fact is that the whole Jenner family are mega cultural influencers. And 19 year-old Kylie is showing her business savvy on a lot of levels. After all, she’s had a great role model through her older siblings. According to Forbes, sister Kim made $51MM in 2016 from a variety of endorsements and business ventures.
But wait. On the heels of Jenner’s big unveil, there’s controversy in the camo fashion world! According to People.com, “Kylie Jenner launched her collection of camouflage gear on Thursday, and social media users were quick to point out the similarities between Jenner’s camo line and the New York-based brand PluggedNYC.” Jenner has been accused of copying PluggedNYC’s designs and the brand’s founder, Tizita Balemlay, spoke out on Instagram to call out the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality star.
Ok, I’m not writing about the drama behind the fashion side camo, although I find it fascinating that camo even elicits drama at all. At its core, camo is an essential tool for the millions of hunters in the New Heartland (Midwest, Southwest, Southeast). For many of the 60% of US consumers who call the New Heartland home, the love of hunting is an important part of their lifestyle and for many, passed down through generations.
Camo as a branding creative element
Brands have flirted with using camo as a creative element over the years. For the brands that do it right, the payoff is real. As a matter of fact, New Heartlanders are 32% more likely to find outdoor activities appealing as an advertising element versus their coastal counterparts. But using it incorrectly could backfire.
I was meeting with a client who targeted millennial males. They said they were going to use camo in their packaging. When I asked what camo pattern they were considering, they replied, “You mean, there’s more than one?” Speaking of millennials, a small panel of males who hunt and fish conducted as part of a Cultural Immersion Trek for brands said they would ‘buy anything with camo on it’. There are hundreds of camo patterns, and more being created (and patented) each year. Camo is influenced by science as advances are made in better understanding how animals see. The science of camo doesn’t apply to packaging or fashion, but understanding the basics is important especially if authenticity is a goal.