Walking around London, New York, or any major Western city, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the midst of a sprawling woodland. Or perhaps out hunting in a remote stretch of trees. Far from the natural wonders of these landscapes, this slightly odd phenomenon is down to the dominance of camo worn by its inhabitants.
And, with the often militarised connotations of regular camouflage print fading into obscurity, there’s a new print taking over in camo-wear: Realtree. Propelled by a series of well-considered collaborations and dedicated following from their original demographic of hunter-wear, Realtree’s signature camo print has come to dominate the scene.
The first Realtree pattern was hand-drawn by Bill Jordan, founder of the brand. First conceptualised in 1986, the print was specifically designed for hunters wanting a more realistic camo print than the traditional, more abstract camo pattern on offer. Snowballing from there, the Realtree camo soon became one of the most recognisable camouflage patterns in the market.
From being well-established in the industry, the brand then started thinking about collaborations: naturally spreading to nearby lifestyle-based territory to embark on projects with Wrangler and NASCAR. After gaining traction in these spaces, streetwear then took note.
Brands like Supreme, Stüssy, and Nike all worked with Realtree on camouflage pieces and lines, contributing massively to their prevalence in cities. It was the perfect branching out (pun intended). Now, Realtree is pushing further, thinking up more innovative and unexpected projects and collaborations. Of these, highlights include a Realtree print bikini from Praying, as well as the Realtree Crocs, which have been circulating.
As mentioned, Realtree’s aesthetic alternative to the questionable ethics of army-wear may be behind its spike in popularity to younger city-dwellers, whilst it’s original fanbase of hunters buy into its photo-realistic look. The print feels more elevated in its complex use of shadows, shading and natural elements, providing a sophisticated alternative to the well-worn camouflage print we all know.
Spotted on everyone from Drake, courtside, to Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, Realtree have managed to shed the skin of the ‘hunting-only’ category to become a hyped, wearable print that is at home in a concrete jungle as a regular one.