Spring is here – or so they claim – and summer’s hopefully just around the corner. Come July and August, you’ll want to wear something lighter and more comfortable than raw denim strides – unless you like sweating like a pig and catching skin diseases, that is. Sta-prest chinos aren’t great everyday trousers, especially if you walk a lot – but how about jungle greens? The Northern Avenger tells you how to pull off army fatigues in style even when you’re working as a manual labourer.
Part of what I call surplus skinhead gear, jungle greens are a great if overlooked skinhead clothing staple. They’re also referred to as army greens and dockers – maybe because London dockworkers wore them.
Jungle greens were originally worn by first wave London skinheads in 1968. They were part of the Kilburn mob’s ‘uniform’ alongside donkey jackets and cherry red commando boots, while the Mile End boys combined them with Levi’s trucker jackets. Moreover, in the spring of 1968 the latter mob wore jungle greens with Dunlop Green Flash trainers – an unlikely skinhead shoe if there ever was one – and Fred Perry tennis shirts or white t-shirts and slipovers .
Monkey jackets, which were more commonly known as ‘surfer jackets’ back then, were another popular choice to pair jungle fatigues with. One original skinhead even reports wearing his greens with a crombie later on.
First wave skins bought their jungle greens from army surplus stores. While you could get British Army 58 Pattern Jungle Issue trousers fairly easily, many skinheads categorically snubbed British army fatigues. American OG-107 sateen trousers were harder to get hold of, but they were most popular model by far – these were the classic 1960s skinhead jungle greens.
When the skinhead revival got massive in 1978 as many former punks turned skinhead, jungle greens became widespread once again (the Derek Ridgers picture on top shows two Shoreditch skins in 1979). This time around, though, British Army lightweight trousers were more commonly seen than OG-107s.
In the 80s, they were largely superseded by British Army DPM combat trousers with camo patterns and cargo pockets – the typical ‘Combat 84 look’. I will keep it more traditional and give you a quick overview of OG-107 jungle greens, plus some alternatives that are available. Original OG-107s can be quite rare, and the condition isn’t always great. OG-107 repros, on the other hand, are expensive for what they are.
US Army 1964 Vietnam issue OG-107 (Type III)
Made from olive green 8.5 ounce sateen cloth – OG-107 stands for ‘olive green 107’. Button fly and distinctive front pocket, plus two buttoned back pockets with flaps – although sometimes they only had one back pocket. They are high waisted, quite baggy, and often come creased when you buy a vintage pair these days.
Unlike jeans manufacturers, the army won’t flatter you with fake measurements, and these high-waisted strides will have little regard for your beer belly. Always size up at least once if you’re going to buy a pair.
Prices vary from as low as £15 to £80+ depending on condition. Plus postage and customs fees, as you’ll usually have to get them from the US. American eBay is a good place to hunt down a pair. Alternatively, you can find them at Vintage Trends, a US-based website that ships to the UK.
Stan Ray OG-107
Not bad if you can afford them. Same cut as the military ones, these are just reproductions. If the original OG-107s are too baggy for your liking, Stan Ray also make slimmer fit versions. For those based in the UK, Urban Industry is probably the cheapest bet.
US Army OG-507
Not produced before 1975, OG-507s were made from typical 1970s permanent press poly-cotton. I don’t think they’re a bad choice for today, though, seeing as they have the same cut as the OG-107. I like the olive green colour on these trousers: ‘olive green 507’ was a slightly darker shade, and the polyester-cotton mix didn’t fade as easily as the OG-107 cotton.
As is the case with OG-107 greens, it’s always best to size up at least once or ask the seller about sizes. They are more common than the OG-107 and cheaper, starting at about £12 on US eBay.
Levi’s Utility Pants
Made from cotton twill, they are mid-rise rather then the skinhead tradition of high-rise trousers. They also look slimmer on the legs and are definitely more of a fashion item. Also available in chambray and rich blue.
Price $49.90 (£85 on Levi’s UK site)
British Army lightweight trousers
Similar to the standard American OG-107, but different in some respects: they have belt loops with buttons (which I think look awesome) and feature one back pocket like some OG-107 models. These trousers are featured in Jim Ferguson’s fashion drawings for the 1968-69 period, and they were often worn by revivalists around 1978-79. Just be sure to get the version without the thigh cargo pockets if you want more of a traditional skinhead style. Or get one with cargo pockets if you like the later 80s skinhead style, which isn’t my cup of tea.
Can be found for as low as £6 plus shipping in used condition on eBay – a bargain.
As Porky Pig would say, that’s all folks!