Paris, Milan, Natick. Fashion capitals of the world.


That’s right. GQ says that the center of American fashion lies in Natick, Mass. and its greatest atelier is the United States Army Soldier Systems Center, which has given us such timeless staples of utilitarian fashion as the t-shirt, the bomber jacket, the combat boot and the eternally stylish camouflage print.

The center is also responsible for the manufacture of parachutes, body armor and the MRE — why that culinary  innovation hasn’t found its way to Michelin-starred restaurants, we’ll never know.

While the functionality of military apparel helped it translate to fashion week runways, the Army points out that style plays an important role as well.

“Image also is very important for acceptability of an item,” said Annette LaFleur (pictured above), a lead designer at Natick. “If we are designing a protective item, we want the user to want to wear it; so the truth is, it has to look good and have that ‘cool factor’ to it.”


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