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How Indian army’s new combat uniform was designed

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The Indian Army will soon have a new combat uniform, specially designed for it by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). The new design entails several smart tweaks made to the fabric, the weight, and also the camouflage pattern.

On January 15, celebrated as Army Day every year, the new combat uniform for the Indian Army was unveiled. It will be made available in a phased manner to nearly 12 lakh personnel of the Indian Army.

At NIFT Delhi, a team of seven faculty members, each with individual responsibility, were tasked with designing the new uniform to replace the one that has been in use since 2008.

“One faculty member was working on the development of the camouflage print, along with two students, whom we had specially taken for the project. Two faculty members worked on the fabric development, and two others worked on the development of the design and prototyping, who were joined by two alumni,” a member of the NIFT team told indianexpress.com requesting not to be named at they were not authorised to speak to the media. The team came up with the final concept after many brainstorming sessions.

The main changes in the Army combat uniform

The professor said while briefing the NIFT team, the Army had clearly identified the problem areas it wanted to fix with the new design. “The old uniform, is thicker — like a Denim fabric. In certain climatic conditions, it becomes extremely uncomfortable, especially where there is heat. Where there is humidity, the trouser and the jacket would just not dry. The comfort factor came in keeping the troops in mind,” the NIFT team member said.

The fabric has now been made lighter and sturdier making it comfortable to be worn for longer durations. “The new weave allows for quick drying also. The composition of the yarn has not changed much — the cotton-polyester ratio remains the same,” the professor said.

Since the present uniform is also replicated quite a bit as the pattern is readily available in the market even though it is illegal to sell the same, one of the challenges was to create a unique and multi-terrain pattern this time. The same has been done with a digital design in the new uniform.

The team at NIFT gave the Indian Army almost 17 pattern options of which four were shortlisted. These were then made into garments so as to check the efficacy, and then one was selected.

The uniform’s “efficacy” means it can be worn in different terrains — from the rocky mountains of Kashmir to the green slopes of the northeast region, and even the “beiges and browns of the desert”.

The set includes a combat T-shirt underneath with a shirt over it, and unlike the older uniform, will not be tucked in. Other micro-features include the ‘jacket’, with angular top pockets, lower pockets with vertical openings, knife pleats at the back, a pocket on the left sleeve, a pen holder on the left forearm, and improved-quality buttons.

The new trousers are adjustable at the waist with elastic and buttons, along with a double groin layer. And as for the caps, the girth is adjustable and the logo of the Army has visibly-better quality.

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