Contracted to manufacture the official Airforce and Navy shirts in 1959, Alpha Industries have come a long way since their time on the field.
Entering the commercial market in 1970 to keep them afloat between government contracts, the company leapt at the opportunity, transforming a practical innovation into one of the hottest fashion trends to date. A favourite for fashion bloggers all over the world and wardrobe staples for Gigi and Kendall, the MA-1 flight jacket is one you need to get your hands on! We caught up with Moe Bahadur, Managing Director of Alpha NZ to find out the secrets behind the brand’s success and what’s up next for the iconic brand.
With a 55 year lifespan and consistent high demand, what’s the secret to the MA-1 flight jackets success?
We have always taken pride in the design and quality of our jackets, one thing that sets us apart from our competitors is the fact that the quality and workmanship has always remained the same. We source high-grade material and manufacture our products in accordance with the U.S. military guidelines, even the civilian MA-1 is carefully crafted to perfection every single time. Having the support of the U.S. military over the past 55 years has also contributed to the success of the brand and ongoing demand for our products.
Made from nylon, the MA-1 flight jacket is durable in temperatures up to -4 degrees. What influenced this design decision?
When pilots went down and were lost, they needed a jacket that would not only keep them warm for short periods of time, but also keep them dry, with the ability to handle difficult terrains. Nylon retains heat and is also super durable in wet weather and doesn’t absorb moisture as easily as natural fibres. Nylon also holds its shape a lot better and can be easily manipulated to cater for the various aspects of the jacket, i.e. the pen and bullet pocket on the sleeves, the side pockets and also houses the woollen collar and sleeves to allow a one size fits all capability, not to mention a sturdier product overall.
Does every commercial style develop from an Airforce or Navy design?
The core design has and always be military inspired, however incorporating different fashion trends and mixing styles from different parts of the world like our Chinese New year designs has proven that Alpha Industries can adapt to any culture, design and latest trend but still have the military influence at its core.
Branching into the commercial market must have been a risk, what do you think contributed to a successful transition?
Branching out into the commercial market was a game changer for the company, celebrities from Marylin Monroe back in the 50’s to Kylie Jenner and Kanye West today have been key influences of the brand; this also highlights the respect of the 55 year legacy of the brand. Key selling points have been the actual history of the jacket, and the legacy it’s created.
Easily recognised by their neon orange lining, what was the thought process behind this iconic design element?
An addition to the jacket in 1960 was the reversibility to show off an Indian Orange lining. The reason being if a plane crashed, the pilot could reverse the jacket to the orange side to signal rescue personnel; and we’ve maintained that heritage aspect ever since.
You’ve had some incredible social exposure with the likes of Gigi and Kendall wearing the brand. Why do you think so much hype was created and was this a milestone moment for you?
Gigi and Kendall are big names in fashion, their appreciation for the brand resonated through social media like wildfire, we are possibly one of the very few brands that they actively promote on social media and don’t ask for anything in return, not many affordable luxury brands have this type of exposure like Alpha Industries.
One of the most notable collaborations was Alpha x French Fashion House Vetements. Was this one of the biggest highlights as a company?
I guess that the various collaborations that we have done across the board with other brands highlights respect for Alpha Industries as a strong player in the fashion industry and our ability to adapt to other brands business models and own unique designs. We have been requested to do various collabs, some of the others that we have done were with Nike, Ben Sherman, Stussy, Burton and even Playboy.
What’s next for Alpha Industries?
There’s plenty still coming your way, we have a few special surprises in store for the NZ market in the coming years so watch this space, can’t say more at this stage, unfortunately, it’s a secret, but stay tuned…..