Jelt was established nearly seven years ago as a social enterprise, which means it is a for-profit business whose sole mission is to create a product that everyone needs. Jelt is manufactured in a way that empowers underserved women and then donates a portion of all sales to charitable organizations. Like other social enterprises, such as Patagonia, we simultaneously seek profits, social impact and environmental sustainability.
Our focus has always been to help non-profits in Montana and throughout the country. One of our longtime partners, Warriors and Quiet Waters, is a non-profit dedicated to the rehabilitation of post 9/11 combat veterans, with the serenity of fly-fishing in Montana. Jelt values our veterans - we have friends and family members who served, and continue to serve our country, in the United States military. We are truly grateful knowing they have dedicated their lives to defending our country.
Warrior being guided on the Yellowstone River by the WQW staff.
So, when we created our new True Camo print Jelt belt, it did not immediately occur to us the acute connection between the leaf pattern print and the U.S. Army battle dress uniform that was worn prior to 1973. This particular camo highland print was worn by veterans serving in the Vietnam War, where their surroundings were dense wooded and jungle areas. This camo design then evolved into the woodland print, adopted from 1981 until early 2000. Both the leaf pattern and woodland pattern military camouflage designs are iconic and very similar in appearance.
In the mid 2000’s, the Woodland U.S. Army Battle Dress Uniform was phased out and replaced with beige and sand-colored fatigues reflecting the deployment to desert landscape countries. Therefore, “nearly half a million Army service members packed their uniforms in boxes to be donated, or stored somewhere gathering dust. I bet they’re kicking themselves now. Today, camo is everywhere, functioning almost as a neutral, like leopard print or pinstripes. And if the fall runways were any indication, camo isn’t disappearing from our wardrobes anytime soon,” according to Claire Gibson, Marie Claire.
Many of those vintage uniforms have ended up in Army Surplus stores, antique shops and trendy flea markets. People are nostalgic for what they perceive as the simpler times of the 70’s and 80’s, where the music was rock'n and cars were made of steel. People who wear retro stylish camo prints may not be thinking of the military men and women who sacrificed their lives in the jungles of Vietnam or the deserts of Afghanistan— but, they should.
Photo courtesy of Denimhunters
Though veterans wear camouflage to be imperceptible on the battlefield, we shouldn’t allow them to be invisible when they return home. They should be commended for their service and their sacrifice. Wearing camo patterns as a civilian doesn't have to be a pure fashion trend, but instead a reminder to honor our United States military and a salute to those who protect our freedom. Perhaps wearing camo can mean something more. Check out Jelt True Camo Elastic Belt.