With history both in mass military design and in niche movements, there’s very few brands that have sat at the forefront of style and culture like Alpha Industries. As a Department of Defense contractor producing gear for the U.S. Armed Forces for over 30 years, Alpha Industries hasn’t simply been setting the standard for military outerwear, it’s also been helping to establish the aesthetics and style of military-inspired fashion. While the brand has become synonymous with the MA-1 flight jacket—almost single-handedly defining the bomber jacket as a modern wardrobe staple—it’s also consistently embraced the unique ways in which every individual wears any of its famous outerwear.

Considering the brand’s roots both among military members and youth-driven subcultures, it makes sense that individuality is at the center of pieces like the MA-1, the N-3B parka, and the M-65 field jacket. Building on the Alpha Industries’ lineage, the brand has centered on the concept of individual self-expression for its Fall/Winter 2016 collection. In that spirit, we’ve tapped three NYC-based creatives to give their takes on personal style, individuality, and—of course—how a historic label like Alpha industries is leaving its mark on the fashion senses of today.

Abdulaye Niang

Abdulaye Niang

Model, @abdulayeniang

How do you use fashion as your form of self expression?

My clothes are an expression of who I am and my beliefs—my interests and creativity too. For example, if I get a new pair of white sneakers, if they get too old to me, I’ll draw on them. I’ll take a pack of markers and I’ll just express my thoughts onto the shoe.

How does the energy and diversity of New York City translate into your wardrobe?

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with New York. On some streets you’ll see some people who express themselves and their individuality, and then you’ll see some people all dressed the same way. It all enters my thoughts because I don’t want to dress like everyone else, and I want to bring my own spice to how I get dressed.

“I don’t want to dress like everyone else, and I want to bring my own spice to how I get dressed.”

I like that the city is a place that’s diverse enough, to the point where I feel comfortable taking style risks. For example, let’s say that I don’t want to wear the same pair of jeans anymore, and I decide to distress them or tweak them. When I wear them, someone will stop me and be like, “Hey, I love your pants” or something like that. It makes me realize that I’m really trying to do something different.

How does the past—especially iconic clothes and fashions—affect your contemporary idea of style?

I like watching all my old favorite movies to look at those styles and the way people used to dress. I like to take it all into consideration when I’m shopping. Consignment or browsing collections, I keep it all in my mind as I look at clothing.

I feel like the belt game is really important. I have a few old-school western belts, but I’ll spice it up with a pair of chelsea boots for something old and new.

When building my closet, I use all my past influences, like older movies that I like. I like to set myself apart using 70’s style and culture too—things like bell-bottoms—or even just with my basics.

What are your wardrobe staples?

I always have to have a pair of plain, high-top, luxury leather sneakers. I like to wear anything that can be basic, but also complex at the same time.

I’m a shearling kind of guy too. I like fur-lined jackets, and I have a lot of furs. I also have this one bomber that I bought because the color was so unique—it was like an aquamarine colored bomber. I wear that sometimes too.

With the internet turning subcultures and once-niche styles into worldwide pop-culture, how do you maintain a sense of individuality while still being tapped into what’s trending?

I think it all comes down to your networks. All the people that you hang around, who you hang with, and the people that influence the way you dress all play a part. Sometimes I go on the internet on my phone and on Instagram and I’m like, “Wow these are some cool outfits they’re showing on the Explore page, but I know that I can do something just like that, but tweak it.” Those ideas are great, but I know that I can always make those just that much greater.

How does the average person benefit from military-inspired design?

Those styles give you more of a rugged look, you can definitely come across more serious, but relaxed at the same time. You can turn military-based clothing into swag without too much effort. I like that.

I also like jackets with a lot of pockets, especially long, wide interior pockets. I have a lot of stuff I’ll carry around in my pockets, and I don’t like my pant’s pockets bulging out. It’s one reason why I like field coats and things like that. Long story short, if you’ve got a jacket with nice inside pockets, I’m buying that jacket [laughs].

What makes a brand with a deep history like Alpha Industries relevant to today’s consumer?

Everywhere you turn, you’ll probably see a bomber. Most of those bombers are made by Alpha Industries. They’re getting around and reaching young people regardless of their age or history.

I think [Alpha Industries] is a brand that’s very respectable to today’s consumer. Being around a long time, they’ve been making quality product like their bombers for a long time—stronger, rugged gear. With a military background, it assures you that you’re dealing with a quality product.

“With a military background, it assures you that you’re dealing with a quality product.”
Alexis Jae

Alexis Jae

Model/Artist, @aalexisjae

How do you use fashion as your form of self expression?

I make sure that I stand out from everyone else and use fashion as a way to be an individual. Usually I do something to my clothes—like cutting them up—so they have some sense of me. I like reconstructing a lot of outfits, thrifting, and making my clothes my own.

How does the energy and diversity of New York City translate into your wardrobe?

The city helps me with my confidence because when you’re in New York City, a lot of the people that live here dress differently than other places. I definitely try to bring back 90’s New York with my style; baggy fits are one example. But I try to bring in new elements of style from own ideas of fashion design. New York City is so big and diverse, I try to stand out in the street because that’s just what I like doing.

“New York City is so big and diverse, I try to stand out in the street because that’s just what I like doing.”

The energy of the city doesn’t impact my style so much though, it’s more an internal thing that I’ve had inside me for a really long time. New York City definitely helps my confidence and allows me to experiment. I wasn’t always dressing myself so well, or in the way that I dress today, but I’ve always admired people who that confidence to dress up as an individual and not care what other people think. I guess, if anything, it’s the energy of other people and the confidence in their style that definitely helped me gain confidence to have my own individual style.

How does the past—especially iconic clothes and fashions—affect your contemporary idea of style?

I like recreating looks a lot, so that definitely impacts my style as a whole. I try to take things from the past and then put my own twists on it or give a futuristic element to it. I actually have an Alpha Industries bomber jacket and I put a lot of patches on it like they’d customize things in the past. I think everyone has a bomber jacket, and I definitely did not want to blend in with everybody else.

I usually look at things in the past for inspiration so I can create new things with the images or ideas. There’s a lot of styles from the past that I think are slept on, like bell-bottoms and baggy jeans—90s looks or 70s looks. It’s kind of like an art project for me—trying to recreate vintage things I like but not have it be exactly the same. I always things from the past as inspiration.

What are your wardrobe staples?

I love high-waisted jeans because I like the way it makes my figure look. I’m starting to buy more dresses as well, because I like feeling like a little princess. I always need an oversized jacket or a fur to pimp things out or pump things up. I like really big jackets with a really nice fur collar or a fur hood. Just a touch of something to be a little bit extra, because I feel like that’s my style; It’s all just a little bit extra.

With the internet turning subcultures and once-niche styles into worldwide pop-culture, how do you maintain a sense of individuality while still being tapped into what’s trending?

I use the internet to look at things from the past and to inspire me, but I try my best to stay away from current trends. I don’t follow trends or anything like that, I try to create my own style. I don’t like blending in with the crowd or anything like that. If I see something I like, I may take it and turn it something that’s mine, but I never ever directly copy something or redo something. It’s usually by cutting a piece or sewing things together, putting patches on something. Anything that will change it from its original cut and style, and take it somewhere new. I want to be a fashion designer, so usually I incorporate ideas from my fashion designs into my overall wardrobe. I always put my own twist to it.

How does the average person benefit from military-inspired design?

Military inspired gear is usually pretty comfortable, and usually benefits from being baggy or oversized. It’s also not something that stands out obnoxiously. For example, a lot people aren’t necessarily comfortable with standing out from a lot of people so it’s ok to be able to blend in. The good thing about Alpha Industries’ bombers is that they’re simple, but that means they work with a variety of different styles—loud or not.

What makes a brand with a deep history like Alpha Industries relevant to today’s consumer?

Well it’s almost winter, so everyone always needs a good jacket [laughs]. You can’t really get tired of a bomber jacket or something like that—it’s a classic piece. Bombers are a timeless look, and Alpha Industries has been working on them for a long time. Honestly, I just love bombers, I wish I had more.

“You can’t really get tired of a bomber jacket…it’s a classic piece.”
Poster Boy

Poster Boy

Model/Rapper, @poster.boy

How do you use fashion as your form of self-expression?

I use fashion as my self-expression just to show people that I’m not some basic yuppie. I don’t just shop at the average places. I just don’t want to look like the standard “I shop and buy everything at the mall” type of kid. I want to stand out; I want a style that only says, “That’s Poster Boy.”

“I just don’t want to look like the standard “I shop and buy everything at the mall” type of kid. I want to stand out; I want a style that only says, “That’s Poster Boy.””

How does the energy and diversity of New York City translate into your wardrobe?

Being from New Jersey where no one has any style [laughs] we had to look out of the state. My dad, being from New York, I would come out when I was younger. I started doing things like bending the brims on my New Eras and everything like that. I feel like New York in general has a big impact on the culture around America and the world. I feel like I got a lot of my style from the city and the kids that I hang out with here.

How does the past—especially iconic clothes and fashions—affect your contemporary idea of style?

I feel like a lot of the past’s styles I use as a base for my new swag. I definitely like the oversized aesthetic that you’d see in the early 2000’s and late 90s. I feel like now I incorporate that—in a sense—in what I wear today. I like oversized tees, bombers, just things that a big and cozy—things I can move around in.

What are your wardrobe staples?

One brand you will always see me in is Homies Wonderland. It’s an upcoming brand from New York City in the Lower East Side. Literally, that’s all I wear. But I also like Alpha Industries too, especially the bombers.

With the internet turning subcultures and once-niche styles into worldwide pop-culture, how do you maintain a sense of individuality while still being tapped into what’s trending?

I feel like no matter what, we’re going to see things that are trending that we like. On Instagram especially, you see styles from people all over the world. I feel like, to keep your individuality, you’re obviously going to like some of that stuff. So trying not to be a total hypebeast with it, I usually just pick little things off styles I’ve seen. For example, at one point, headbands were totally in the wave—the upside down Nike headband—and I started wearing headbands. Just not at that peak moment. I wait for trends to die down, even if I like them, just so I can keep that own sense of myself.

How does the average person benefit from military-inspired design?

Well both my parents were in the military—Air Force and Marines—and I’d say if you’re very rough, you’re always out, and you don’t care about messing up all your clothes; if you don’t have a pair of $700 jeans, or a $2,000 white leather jacket, military-inspired clothes are something that you can go out and be casual in. You don’t have to worry about messing up your clothes. They’re durable, and the design makes the gear ready to go.

What makes a brand with a deep lineage like Alpha Industries relevant to today’s consumer?

I myself have had Alpha Industries jackets before, and I feel like the reason Alpha Industries is relevant in today’s culture is because the youth have brought back the bomber style and aesthetic from the past—those flight jackets. It’s just about time that Alpha—being that they’ve always created and influenced things like bomber jackets—are bringing all of these great pieces to the people. Kids were already wearing bombers and parkas throughout history, so it makes sense for Alpha to be a part of that too.

“Military-inspired clothes are something that you can go out and be casual in. You don’t have to worry about messing up your clothes. They’re durable, and the design makes the gear ready to go.”
Sponsored Content Editor, US
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