Finding Omani DPM: A Story From AP's Archives
Many of you have seen our Omani DPM shirts and smocks. We pushed it pretty hard when we first got it, and for good reason. It’s pure drip in terms of surplus as streetwear, and the tailoring is second to none. Not only that, but for camouflage collectors Omani Army DPM (I say Army specifically because there are something like fifteen different Omani DPMs) is a grail item.
Photo: Omani soldiers on exercises. Note their use of the Steyr AUG with a fixed 1.5x optic.
In this journal entry, I’ll fill you in on how exactly we ended up with so much of this rare camouflage pattern and how the Omani government felt about it.
The story begins this past winter. In February of 2022 we were looking for something to take our company’s selection of surplus to the next level. After hours of scrolling through Google, we happened to run across a wholesale website from the UK belonging to East West Trading Company. They’re a surplus and collectibles company based in Essex. I took a look through their wholesale and retail sites and was thoroughly impressed with their selection, particularly of rarer or obscure camouflage and military gear.
We decided to shoot them an email and open up an account. The funny thing is that one of their sales representatives, Sunny, had us on a list of US-based surplus companies to get in touch with. He’d seen our humanitarian work that we’d done in connection with United Help Ukraine earlier that month. A couple emails and phone calls later we had an order put together that included tons of product that we’d never even seen available before.
Included in that pallet was our first ever Omani DPM. Only fifty pieces, but a start. Most of the goodies in that shipment went incredibly fast, reflecting their rarity on the American market. We really enjoyed being able to acquire interesting surplus, something that made folks stop and say, “How’d they find that?”
It was about two months later when we decided to go all-in on Omani DPM. My instincts told me that we wouldn’t be able to get this much of it ever again. So I talked my business partner into spending a crapload on getting it here to the States. It was a risk we’d never taken before and it was daunting. We dwelled on it for a long, long time after spending the capital. It’d take weeks, even months, for us to see a return on that investment. I can recall several conversations we had about the risk that was inherent in spending that much on just one product.
Once we received that pallet of 368 Omani Field Shirts, it was game time. We marketed it to the best of our ability. Our Instagram and TikTok were chock full of content about Omani DPM, its history, and the country’s history. The price point was steep and we’d spend a lot of time, money and stress getting it to us. At first it looked as if we’d made a mistake. It wasn’t selling well, folks complained about the price (understandable), and we were stuck with lots of it. But there was a curveball coming, one that I’d never have expected.
One of our TikToks went viral in Oman. We had dozens, even hundreds, of comments from people who live in Oman talking about their beautiful country and its military. They told us what we had already guessed: Omani DPM and Omani military gear in general is highly illegal for civilians to possess. Naturally they all asked us, “Where’d you get it?” At that point I didn’t think too much about the question. Of course, we’d bought it directly from our wholesaler. Where’d they, our supplier, get it was the question I hadn’t asked yet. That would turn out to be the most important piece of the puzzle.
On a typical weekday morning I open up my laptop after getting into the warehouse to check emails and get a start to the day. One email was not like the others. Titled “SALE OF OMANI DPM FIELD SHIRTS,” it was from a representative of Al Obaidani International (AOI). AOI is the manufacturer of not only Omani DPM, but many different uniform items and ceremonial garb for the Omani Ministry of Defense (MOD). We had gotten an email from the company who provides Oman’s military with their uniforms.
AOI’s representative and I corresponded via email for a week or two, swapping details about our inventory and how we’d acquired it. The Omani MOD was understandably upset (“pissed” was the word we used most often) that their Army’s uniforms were being sold on the private market here in the US. I suppose that they’d consider it a security risk. If someone were to acquire a full Omani uniform, they could make a mockery of their armed forces on social media or even attempt to infiltrate secure locations. Neither would be desirable. After some time talking over email AOI’s representative informed me that the CEO wanted to set up a meeting with us to discuss several items.
We scheduled a meeting with both the company’s representative and their CEO Jamal. During that meeting we learned a lot about where our Omani DPM had come from. Let’s get into it.
I’d theorized that our Omani DPM may have come from a surplus depot after the Omani military had taken some slight budget cuts in 2020. It turns out that that was completely wrong. Jamal informed us that the Omani military never surpluses their gear onto the private market. It’s all destroyed or otherwise disposed of in such a way that it never gets into non-military hands. That was unfortunate news for us, as I’d hoped we’d eventually be able to get our hands on more Omani DPM variants. After crushing our hopes and dreams of one day acquiring the coveted Omani Navy DPM (massive drip) Jamal dove into where exactly our Omani DPM had come from.
Photo: Omani Navy personnel wearing their Navy's variant of DPM. Army DPM can be seen in the background.
AOI sometimes outsources the manufacturing of specific contracts to other companies. Given the volume they must produce, this doesn’t surprise me. Many other contractors who produce uniforms or other textile goods engage in similar practices. Our batch of Omani shirts and smocks were part of a contract produced in 2007, when I was five years old. A French company by the name of FEVAM, which has since gone out of business, produced the garments at a factory in China with the intent of passing them along to the Omani military once completed. I’m unsure whether the entire contract run was produced or the gear that we have was part of a sample run meant to act as a proof-of-quality.
FEVAM delivered some or all of the contract to AOI and the Omani MOD. After receiving the uniforms the Omani military rejected them for poor quality. Hearing this was a shock to me, as the Omani gear we had received was all of fantastic quality. Some of the best we’d ever seen, in fact. Jamal informed us that since then the patent and fabric content of the Army’s uniforms had been changed, so there weren’t any issues in that department. One problem that AOI did point out, however, was their company name on the garments’ labels. They requested we clarify that AOI itself did not sell us the Omani DPM, and that the garments all came from a rejected contract that should have seen all its goods destroyed after the Omani Army refused delivery. Of course, we obliged. The Omani MOD was rather upset, and it was possible that they may have terminated existing contracts with AOI if it had turned out that they had sold rejected pieces onto the private market.
At the end of the day AOI’s integrity was intact. I can only hope that their relationship with the MOD wasn’t harmed and that Jamal was satisfied with our discussion. His family has run this company since the 1960s and they’ve done an excellent job equipping one of the world’s best-supplied militaries. As the owner of an American surplus company founded simply because I had dropped out of college and needed something to do, it was an honor to speak with the owner of a family-run business working hard to supply their nation’s defense forces.
What string of events occurred that allowed us to acquire so much of this rare camouflage? Here’s my guess: After FEVAM went out of business their inventory was liquidated and spread out across the European market. Part of this inventory was the rejected Omani DPM and possibly other military goods. It shifted around France until a year or two ago, when our UK-based wholesaler made contact with a French source who had the Omani DPM sitting around somewhere. They recognized its value and bought it all.
That’s just one story from the surplus archives. Many of our products have similar stories, though much less interesting than this particular tale.
I hope you enjoyed hearing this story. Perhaps you’d like to grab some Omani DPM from us, while it’s still available.
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