Is there room for fashion in the post-apocalyptic world? Maybe. “The Walking Dead (TWD),” the acclaimed, yet violent, series portraying life after “Walkers” (zombies) take over society, now may be dictating modern fashion.
Crossbow-wielding, greasy-haired Daryl Dixon, portrayed by former model and revered actor, Norman Reedus (“Boondock Saints”), may be the last person you’d think could birth a fashion trend. Hey, he does it without trying. This redneck doesn’t rely on flannel! When he’s not showing off his biker jacket, he wears a comfortable poncho without sleeves to keep his hands free to shoot arrows at enemies within a moment’s notice.
Spoiler Alert: This article includes information about Season 4.
He first dons that infamous tan-colored poncho (presumably inspired by Native American designs) with its bold orange, red and black accents, in Season 3. At that point in the series, Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal) has recently met his demise, and the group has fled from the supposed innocence and safety of Hershel Greene’s newly-ravaged farm.
There is even a Daryl’s Poncho Facebook page with over 250 likes!
Dixon has the poncho for necessity. Undoubtedly, it’s a warm comfort when Walkers can be heard stumbling through the blanket of a Georgian night. He probably never dreamed — nor would care — that his poncho would become a signature outfit. (Does that make the poncho even cooler?)
As viewers discover in some character-driven Season 4 episodes, Dixon’s personality is blooming. He’s been ducking questions about what he did before the zombie apocalypse for a while. Now that he’s out from under the shadow of big brother, Merle (Michael Rooker), he has finally started to take initiative in his own life ad-mist society’s collapse. Dixon is finding he has leadership qualities in the new society he and his other group-mates are forging for themselves.
Hmm, maybe that poncho symbolizes how he has kept to himself all of these years, trying to stay out of the way of his abusive father, spending a lot of time alone in the woods while Merle spent most of his young life in juvenile detention.
Fortunatenly, heroic Glenn (Steven Yeun) even takes a split-second to save the garment as he flees from the prison’s ruins at the mid-season break of Season 4. He eventually hands it over to his wife, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), as they finally reunite on the road to the supposed sanctuary, Terminus.
In the Season 4 finale, detail-orientated Rick recognizes — even before Daryl — that one of the Terminus residents is rocking that recognizable poncho.
More than one toy or figurine depicts Dixon in his poncho. You can scour Ebay or other resale sites to find a fleece poncho specifically manufactured for “TWD” fans. There are replicas on Etsy.
The poncho can evolve, too: AMC’s official store is featuring a Daryl Dixon scarf with the poncho’s design. The description on the website is: “No one can make a poncho look sexy like Daryl Dixon. Ponchos are trending, thanks to Daryl, but we realized that not everyone wants to rock a poncho. So we decided to take the pattern of Daryl’s admired accessory and turn it into an infinity scarf. Super comfy and stylish, who doesn’t want to wear something inspired by Daryl around their neck! One size fits all, 100% polyester.”
Perhaps what’s so human is that even in the midst of disease, despair, tragedy and near hopelessness, we may still have the desire to see someone express their own individuality through their clothing choices. Even the fear of fleshing-eating, pug-like wheezing Walkers can’t take that away.
Ironically, then, as a society, we copy that individuality and dole it out to the masses in the form of a fashion trend.
Season 5 of The Walking Dead bursts back unto prime-time starting in October 2014 on AMC.
Oh, and silly AMC: who doesn’t want to “rock a poncho”?! Wow, will Daryl and Maggie bicker over who gets to keep the poncho if they survive Terminus’ cannibals? Weigh in with your comments below!