Keeping up with textiles

Keeping up with textiles


Market Research?

I found this image in my microscopic folder a few days ago, is it market research? I’m not quite sure. As it has been there for over 6 months, I found it on WGSN, Mille Fili. It was not the inspiration for my radio float design (really need to give that a proper name) however they used a similar, if not the same structure! Of course I shouldn’t have been naive enough to imagine I had invented this by myself. Did I subconsciously take this information and develop it???


Theme – Microscopic

Last years work … I chose the theme ‘Microscopic’, I thought it would be good to have another look and share my work here.

This is the one of the images I found for inspiration. See at –

Diatom alga, SEM

I produced a lino cut based on this image. I chose to show the actual lino that has been scanned in as this seemed to be the most effective image!


This inspired me to produce floral lace knits.


Scan 5 copy

– Slight discolouration on the first one, due to the use of different cameras at different times!


An Interview with a Regiment Gunner

For my dissertation at university I have chosen the topic ‘The future of smart textiles in the military’. A friend of mine has kindly helped me out by answering a few questions regarding the use of camouflage during combat, he has also permitted me to publish his interview  online so that I can reference the interview in my appendices and bibliography.


Name: Anonymous

Age: 26 years old

Rank: Regiment Gunner

Served in: Afghanistan and Libya

Time Served: 5 years

Q. If I told you that the US government spent $5 billion on the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) and decided to ‘phase out’ the design after barely a decade of use, because it proved to be totally ineffective for soldiers in combat, what would you say?

A. I’d never considered the huge price cost in supplying an entire military with a camouflage. $5 billion is a huge amount. However, I don’t believe a government should skimp on something as fundamentally important as a good camouflage. If they are expecting their soldiers to defend their country and it’s interests, then they should be willing to pay the price.

Q. So you would say the right camouflage uniform is very important for soldiers in combat, were you happy with the uniform you were provided, DPM (Disrupted Pattern Material)?

A. DPM was fine for what it was. It was designed to be used in a cool temperate climate, primarily Europe, against the Russians. It’s a very effective woodland camouflage. But warfare evolves. Quickly. Now the enemies don’t come from far Eastern superpowers, but from middle eastern terrorist networks, and thus warfare moved to more arid climate.

Q. What about MultiCam? Even though it came second to UCP when the US government selected their camouflage pattern, it has found great success in militaries all over the World, especially for use in Afghanistan.

A. MultiCam is extremely effective camouflage in modern combat arenas. It’s not as effective as DPM in woodland, but makes up that in being useful in a large number of other environments. I think each large scale military involvement should ideally come with a new camouflage issued to troops.

One based on the environments they’ll be expected to fight in. Unfortunately this takes a great deal of time to go from initial idea to actual supply. Look at the UK’s recent move to Multicam, designed for the Middle East, just before we withdraw fighting troops from our war there.

Afghanistan’s “Green zone” has the heaviest fighting of the current conflict. It’s a mixture of green shrubs and sand buildings and earth. Multicam works incredibly well in it. But it also works surprisingly well in desert and urban environments.

Q. Do you think it is necessary for the US Government to be spending so much money on camouflage uniforms so frequently?

A. The right camouflage is incredibly important. Can you imagine just how vulnerable you’d feel if you were caught in a firefight wearing something a completely different colour to your surroundings? How much would you stick out? Current issued camouflage is designed to blur it’s wearer. Movement is one of the biggest attractions for the eye, but it’s very hard to focus on someone wearing Multicam at any kind of distance. It’s VERY hard to guess how far away they are, and range of an enemy is a very important but often overlooked aspect of a firefight. A bullet has a trajectory, if you don’t compensate for that and the range your target is at you’ve got no hope of hitting them. If you can’t kill them, then they’re going to kill you.

Q. Do you think the future of technology could help soldiers in combat? Or will it be an unnecessary cost for the government, assuming that it will not fail digitally during combat anyway. For example, what do you think of the image below?Image

A. Personally I’d hate the helmet, I’m not claustrophobic but it gets very hot in modern combat theatres and the stress and adrenaline of a firefight makes you sweat profusely. That helmet will just make it worse, especially being black. Sweat gets in your eyes, eyes sting, you can’t focus, you’re dead.

Q. As far as the rest of the technology is concerned, how do you feel about the possibility of soldiers wearing ‘invisibility suits’. (Ghost in the shell, Susumu Tachi, Retro-reflective Projection Technology etc)?

A. They look promising. Governments have a responsibility to keep their soldiers alive as best they can. Whether for moral purposes or because of the financial cost that went into their training is another matter. Camouflage at the moment isn’t designed to hide a moving person. Not even that invisibility suit would be able to do that fully. Modern camouflage does a very good job of hiding a stationary person. It’d be a step up, but hard to trust something that looks liable to fail under the high stress that combat puts items through. Unless it’s been very well proven, I’d prefer a conventional camouflage over the invisibility suit…

Special forces are a different story. Far fewer soldiers, working in the most dangerous situations, means that the UK and USA offset a larger budget to equip them. If/when these futuristic pieces are issued it’ll be to SF units first.

*End of Interview*

It is conclusive that whilst camouflage is extremely important for soldiers in the military and Special Forces, it is important that the appropriate amount of funding, research and extensive testing is achieved in order for the uniform to be credible and chosen for troops.

Whilst the future of smart materials and technology within the application of defence, protection and communication may look exciting, there are still many problems and obstacles to get over first.

Ultimately if the current uniform is successful now, there is no need for futuristic replacements to be issued in this quarter of the 21st Century.

An Interview with a Regiment Gunner by Imogen Cotterill-Drew