Bazooka bringing urban threads to Grafenwohr
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Baggy jeans, hooded sweat shirts and giant baseball caps have received an unofficial thumbs-up from the Army as off-duty clothing for soldiers.
The items will be on sale at Bazooka, one of several concessionaires due to open inside the new Army and Air Force Exchange Service post exchange at Grafenwöhr later this month.
Urban hipsters — with their over-size hats, jackets decorated with printed skulls and low-slung baggy pants made by American street-wear labels such as Phat Farm and RocaWear — are a far cry from the clean-cut images of off-duty soldiers dressed in polo shirts and chinos featured in American Forces Network TV commercials.
But if the young Germans at Bazooka’s Weiden store on Wednesday are anything to go by, baggy jeans and a hoodie are exactly the clothes off-duty soldiers need to wear if they want to blend in with locals in Bavaria.
According to Chuck Gordon, Joint Multinational Training command spokesman, there is nothing in Army regulations limiting the type of clothing a soldier can wear off duty.
“The style of clothing a soldier wears is his or her own prerogative. It could get into the military realm if there are statements on the T-shirt that counter good order and discipline, but if a soldier wants to wear what is currently stylish (in their opinion), then it’s their business. Regulations don’t provide a basis for telling soldiers what they can and cannot wear off duty,” he said.
Mirek Wuzik, who will manage the on-post Bazooka outlet, said soldiers shop at his Weiden store, and he expects the on-post shop to be popular.
The ardent snowboarder and self-professed “cool person” is up-to-date on the latest fashion trends. He knows which baseball cap brims should be bent and which should be left straight. He knows the right way to wear a hoodie and can talk eloquently about the European trend toward less-baggy jeans.
The store at the Grafenwöhr PX will be Bazooka’s first venture on a U.S. military base, Wuzik said.
“We hope to have the things GIs want,” he said, adding that the store will sell shoes such as Vans and DVS, Burton snowboards and girls clothing from labels such as Emily the Strange and Paul Frank.
More conservative shoppers might like to check out the Nachtmann Crystal shop, also due to open this month.
Tony Frank, former Nachtmann Crystal president, said the shop sells a variety of crystal tableware along with crystal figurines and chandeliers, although these will not be available until later.
Nachtmann, which has had shops on U.S. bases in Germany for 40 years, sells Spiegelau crystal from Bavaria, Swarovski crystal from Austria and various Italian crystals. It also makes crystal for top U.S. brands such as Tiffany & Co. of New York, Gorham and Lenox, he said.
Those planning for Christmas will appreciate the new Käthe Wolfahrt shop at Grafenwöhr. The shop specializes in Christmas decorations, souvenirs and gifts, according to sales manager assistant Elizabeth Bauer.
“On post, we will be carrying a nice selection of cuckoo clocks and traditional German gifts like nutcrackers and wooden, glass and pewter Christmas ornaments,” she said.
Like Nachtmann, Käthe Wolfahrt has had stores on U.S. bases for 40 years and Americans are regular visitors to the company’s Christmas Village in Rothenberg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, Bauer said.
Other concessionaires that will open with the new PX include a spa, a Polish pottery shop and a coffee shop. The facility’s grand opening is Sept. 26.
“Bringing these venders together under one roof next to the Post Exchange and Commissary will provide convenience that can be shared by the whole family at one time at a convenient location for most families located in the Grafenwoehr,” Lt. Col. David Konop, AAFES spokesman, said in a statement.