In 1929, Italy produced the revolutionary ‘telo tenda’ shelter-half using ‘telo mimetico’, the first printed camouflage fabric issued to individual troops. Although the pattern is not particularly effective, because of the short distance over which it repeats, it is the world’s longest-serving camouflage design – apart from changes in color schemes, this pattern was used into the 1990s.
During WWII, the fabric was used to make two helmet covers (one for infantrymen, one for paratroopers) and a paratrooper smock, all of which were first issued in 1942. The Italian camouflage pattern was coveted during the war, and German troops seized some of the fabric to make uniforms from it to their own specification. British and American troops were also known to wear captured garments printed with the pattern. In addition to this design, a three-color ‘beach assault’ pattern was made exclusively for the elite San Marco Battalion after WWII, superseded by a new San Marco ‘spray’ pattern introduced in the late 1980s. The fabric was used in the 60’s by artist Aligherro Boetti, over 20 years before Warhol’s appropriation os the US woodland pattern.