Picasso said that cubists invented dazzle camouflage. Possibly this is true. The cubist period was well established prior to World War I, but in any case, the credit has been awarded to the British marine artist, Norman Wilkinson.
In April 1917, Wilkinson watched on helplessly as U Boats wiped out scores of British ships. His idea, which may or may not have been inspired by someone else, wasn’t to camouflage in the traditional sense. The paint job was to break up the ship’s form and confuse submariners as to which course the vessel was taking, therefore making it harder to target through a periscope.
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Regardless of its historical value, dazzle camouflage has had resurgence in cycling fashion a century on. Rapha did a jersey a year or so ago and now Giro has popped the distinctive design onto its Empire ACC shoes.
The Empire ACC has a reflective coating on the microfiber upper, which is helpful if the wearer is riding in poor light conditions (less so if they’re avoiding torpedoes). The Empire has a lace up system that ensures comfort. The downside is it’s pretty tricky to adjust on the fly.
This latest version of the Empire has a full and improved Easton EC90 carbon sole boasting a miniscule 6.5mm stack height for better connection with the pedals. Giro has maintained the SuperNatural Fit foot bed, which lets the wearers fine-tune the arch support for themselves.
And they come with a bag and a selection of laces.
Read: California sole – the making of Giro’s Empire
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