20 March 2017
A few years ago we were competing in ultra marathons in the Namib desert and Amazon jungle. Both were the kind of environments that leave their mark on your mind, body and clothes. You’d see athletes rolling into desert check points with dead eyes and salt waves crusted on their clothes. No-one emerged unscathed from the jungle. One guy’s party trick was showing you his heel bone as his wound was so deep. Lots of athletes simply burnt or binned their clothes at the end.
Endurance and adventure sports aren’t for people who like staying clean. Whether you’re racing downhill, heading up a rock face, or through trails, your skin shreds, your toenails rip off, you get to know the taste of your own blood, the sound of the breath being smashed out of you, and the feeling of your body leaching vital minerals for fun.
Our starting point for Blood Salt & Dirt Camo was accepting that your clothes are going to get trashed. So each technical sports t shirt now comes pre-camouflaged for the abuse you’re going to put it through. Lightweight, breathable and insanely stretchy, they also have the performance capabilities to help you cope in environments where an air ambulance is simply one of the ways to get home.
Camouflage was the obvious choice to disguise the crap you get covered in. If you don’t want something to be seen, camo is the answer. Darwin wrote about its usefulness for black grouse and leaf-eating insects in On the Origin of Species. Julius Caesar’s painted his ships in blue-green wax. Digital camouflage and the Disruptive Pattern Material continue to be mainstays of modern warfare.
So we worked with veteran camouflage designer Lee Glasspool to create the Blood Salt & Dirt Camo designs. Each print is based on the camouflage principles of mimicry and high contrast patterns. Real blood blends into Blood Camo, sweat and salt marks blend into Salt Camo, and dirt and mud disappear into Dirt Camo.
To achieve this result we used sublimation printing to layer different designs onto the fabric. For Blood Camo we used five layers to capture and disguise the different drying stages of blood, from an intense bright red for fresh blood, to a matt maroon-brown for drying blood, with a paler seeping surround.
It took three layers to recreate the salt and sweat of Salt Camo, with marbled spider web patterns of stone grey and off white overlaid onto a mid-grey base print. For Dirt Camo we needed seven layers of colours, shadows and contour lines that create depth, trick the eye and disguise real dirt stains. The prints blend the different types of dirt from dark brown peat bogs to the white spatter of clay.