Alpha Industries Magazine
The story of the CWU 45 jacket
Pilots wear CWU45/P jackets in most countries. From the 70s onwards, leather flight jackets were taken over by the fireproof CWU-54/P with detachable hood and the lighter CWU-36/P. The modern design secured the comfort and safety of the pilots. Substituting the buttons avoided their loss, thus leading to preventing foreign matter from getting into the engine, the tilted side pocket with two velcro strips enabled the pilot to put the hands in a pocket in cold weather.
The jacket was renamed CWU45/P in 1977 when the velcro name label on the chest and the width of the collar was reduced. In the following, the sewing of the back part and the width of the wind-covering strip were altered.
The last modification took place in 1984 (MIL-J-83388D) which actually remained the most popular flight jacket model of the United States Marine Corps.
Currently the crew of the Air Force uses the lighter CWU-36/P jacket in more moderate climates and the CWU45/P in more severe weather conditions. The difference between the two pieces of clothing lies only in the thickness of the padding.
The jacket is popular with the ground personnel servicing the flying crew. Although the regulation forbids the wear of the jacket on top of the civil outfit outside working hours, many put it on away from the air bases since it also represents a sort of status symbol, too. In colder months, many high rank officers may be seen wearing CWU45/P in the Pentagon.
The US Air Force exercises a strict regulation regarding the labels and tags worn on jackets. The nametag can be found on the left chest side and the mark of the regiment on the right. On the left shoulder, the name of the class, and on the right, the sign of the unit is displayed.
Many airmen wear military jackets with more labels and tags which typically show the years of service, number of missions, in other words, the military career pursued.
The story of the MA-1 bomber jacket
Its formal name: ‘Jacket, Flyers, Man’s Intermediate J-8279’ or a men’s jacket flying designed for medium cold weather conditions.
The Alpha Industries has been manufacturing this outfit since the 50s. The need for a new pilot jacket emerged in the 40s, with the initiation of jet planes since unseen expectations were formed towards the safety and comfort of pilots. Such air crews had worn cotton padded leather jackets in the era of propeller crafts. However in high altitudes and in cold, the vapor coming from the air, rain or exhalation froze on the leather jackets. Moreover, modern jet planes got a more streamlined and slim shape thus making the cockpit narrower. The fast and obstacle-free entrance and exit to and from the cockpit became a critical safety factor. A need for a tight-fitting, lightweight and warm outfit appeared. Nylon was chosen as the outer material of the jacket.
In the course of its long history, the MA-1 jacket had gone through various modifications while it preserved its high functionality. The MA-1 was made originally with a quality nylon outer cape, with nylon padding. Between the two nylon shells a double layer of wool secured the insulation. A few years later, wool was changed to a polyester padding and the jacket got lighter and warmer. Other modifications were also made later on. The oxygen mask and the helmet radio wire clip were both removed from the chest part.
Every Alpha MA-1 bomber jackets own the following characteristics:
- consists of 57 sewing lines which all serve a unique purpose; the spare pocket and cigarette pocket is made out of 8 sewing lines.
- the embroidered Alpha logo and identification label can be found inside the left pocket so that it can’t be seen when turning outside the jacket.
The MA-1 jackets manufactured by Alpha and those available in commerce only differ in a few details from the ones produced according to military specifications which do not alter their appearance but rather help everyday use.
Such differences are the following:
- The outer shell is made with a water-repellent coating which makes the jacket more comfortable in strong winds.
- The knitted cuff and waist part is made of acryl instead of wool thus making these elements more aesthetic in the long run.
- The padding is not quilted but made out of a single piece.
Cleaning instructions for Alpha outfits
The special Alpha jackets have to be carefully cleaned so as to avoid the damage of the unique material and to conserve its characteristics. The jacket designed for soldiers is made of flame resistant nomex which is much more expensive than nylon. For the everyday street use nylon is more convenient. The padding of the jackets is polyester. In case of machine washing the nylon jacket’s padding collapses and it loses its outer water resistant capacity, which is highlighted in the “cleaning instructions” inside the jacket.
Dry cleaning gently washes the shiny Alpha nylon jacket but the product still loses from its water resistant capacity. After cleaning it is advised to sprinkle water on it, and if it soaks water in, we recommend using HOLMENKOL Textile Proof spray for the water resistant layer’s posterior replacement.
(The surface has to be sprayed evenly and in a fine layer. The impregnating chemical alters the colour of the fabric for the first sight but after a half an hour of drying the difference disappears and the original shade reappears.)
The symbol of wet treatments (machine and hand washing, soaking, prewash, washing, rinsing and drying included) is a tub full of water. The maximum treatment temperature is displayed as a numerical value in the symbol. Under the tub symbol, 1 line refers to the gentle, 2 lines refer to an exceedingly gentle washing programme to be applied. If the tub symbol contains a hand dipped in water, the product can only be washed with hand in lukewarm water.
The symbol for whitening during or after the washing cycle is an equal sided triangle. Previously, the letters ‘Cl’ were placed within the triangle that prohibited chloric whitening but today other whitening solutions are widely used, as well. The empty triangle now means the permission of all kinds of whitening (with chlorine, peroxide, natrium boric acid, peracetic acid). If only chloric whitening has to be prohibited, then two lines parallel to the left side of the triangle give a warning inside the triangle. If no form of whitening can be done, the triangle is filled in ad crossed out in an X form.
The symbol of drying is a square. In case of fabrics, there are various known and used drying methods according to whom the square shall be complemented. If a tumble-dry machine has to be applied, a circle is placed within the square. Here one line under the square signals a careful, 2 horizontal lines signal an even more careful drying programme. One dots in the circle display low (50 °C), 2 dots display medium (70 °C), and 3 points display high (90 °C) temperature drying.
In case there are no dots in the circle, there is no temperature restriction for drying. If the circle is completely filled in, no heating shall be applied. The permission for drying on a drying rack after spinning is the placed in the upper part of the square. If drying has to be done without spinning, for example placing the cloth on a rack or a hanger, three vertical lines are displayed inside the square. A horizontal line in the square signals drying on a flat surface. If there are two 45° angled lines in the upper left corner of the square, the product has to be dried away from sunlight (in shade).
The symbol for dry or vapour ironing is a hand iron referring to ways of ironing at home. The dots within the iron image refer to the maximum permitted temperature: 1 dot for 110 °C, 2 dots for 150 °C and 3 dots for 200 °C.
Circle is the symbol of dry-cleaning also referring to the treatment with organic solution, and the related drying. A letter shown in the centre of the circle stands for the permitted solution type. The previously used ‘A’ letter’s usage that permitted all kinds of solutions, got canceled. Letter ‘F’ signifies hydrocarbons suitable for cleaning, letter ‘P’ the use of perchloroethylene (acetylene tetrachloride) and also the solutions of letter ‘F’. It is forbidden to use fluorine-chlorine (freon-) derivates since these gravely damage the environment. Letter ‘W’ shows if the laundry can apply an environmentally friendly, wet treatment with water with a special machinery for the cleaning of the item. 1 line under the circle warns of a gentle, 2 lines show an even more careful treatment.
The crossing X displays the complete prohibitions of the given treatment (it also applies to the fully filled in triangle standing for whitening).
Below a few of the labels:
(Label of the CWU45 jacket: THE JACKET IS NOT TO BE LAUNDERED
THE JACKET IS TO BE DRY CLEANED ONLY)
(This image was taken of the label of the N-3B parka. Below, the washing regulations symbols can be seen, according to which the jacket can’t be washed with a machine, can’t be whitened or ironed, it can only be dry-cleaned with perchloroethylene.
DRY CLEAN ONLY
DO NOT TUMBLE DRY WITH SYNTHETIC FUR TRIMMING)
(Label of the MA1 jacket: DRY CLEAN ONLY)
(The label of a cotton jacket. It can be washed at 40°C, ironed, can’t be spinned. It can be dry-cleaned.)
WASH SEPARATELY OR WITH SIMILAR COLOURS
TURN INSIDE OUT FOR WASHING AND IRONING)
(Label of a cotton sweatshirt. It can be machine washed at 40°C. It can’t be whitened. It can be spinned, ironed, and dry-cleaned.)
History of Alpha Industries
The clothing factory was founded in Knoxville by the accountant Samuel Gelber in 1959 with the aim of providing the army with quality outfits. The Alpha Industries was formed as the successor of thre manufacturers: Superior Tags Coporation, Rolen Sportswear and Dobbs Industries. The company mostly famous for its flight jackets preserved its relationship with the American armed forces, however, became one of the leading producers of the civil spheres.
After the Vietnam War, the number of orders increased and the company gained strength. The army ordered a lot of clothing, especially the MA-1 pilot jacket turned out to be very popular. (An interesting fact: the American actor Jason Statham wears the same in the film ’Expendables 2’. In the same film, Sylvester Stallone wears a wool mariner’s Peacoat. In the film ’Terminator 4’ Christian Bale puts on a vintage B-3 shearling jacket. Rambo wore a M65 field jacket in 1982. Robert De Niro was dressed in the same already in 1975, in the film ’Taxi Driver’.)
In the 1970s not only coats but other pieces of clothing were ordered by the army. Therefore, the company outsourced a few of its manufacturing activities. During this time after the end of the Vietnam War, the clothing that became redundant got sold. First only those bought the jackets and trousers who had already got acquainted with the brand during the war. Then the civils also discovered that they were great.
In 1980, the Alpha moved to a new site. At this time, they had been manufacturing 550.000 jackets a year. The company extended its activity from the government field to the civil market. They only made a single modification: with the three horizontal lines sewn on the military gear they separated the product name from the instructions. The buyers looking for something unique then started to search for the pieces with ’three lines’.
After the death of its founder in 1982, Samuel Gelber, Alpha strengthened its market position further.
The company did not make alterations to a great extent, only the colours of the jackets changed while the models remained the same.
The evident glory had lasted until the end of the cold war, approximately until the 1990s when the company’s government orders fell by 75% and the ’Made in USA’ signal got driven back. The situation got further aggravated with the booming of the Far Eastern clothing industry.
Later, neither the Gulf War, nor the Iraq offensive could raise Alpha’s number of orders because they rather aggregated the money on machinery and guns.
Upon the recognizing the trend, Alpha turned completely to the preferance of streetwear, now owning a male, female and children’s collection. The company has centres in the United States, Germany and Japan. The need of the American and European buyers differ, so a few basic pieces are available everywhere while others get to the shops only in a given country.
Almost all Alpha products have a small tab with the company logo, which is sewn on the left arm pocket in case of jackets. Most jackets have a REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT strip which is one of the main distinctive features of Alpha, similarly to the stitsching on the sleeve of the flight jacket. Another characteristic is the velcro nametag on the left chest, as well.
Alpha = tried, controlled, proven
The M-65 coat: A decades long march
Newer and newer pieces are hyped by fashion in each season, still we may observe that some timeless ones also appear in new collections. The olive green cotton coat is exactly of this kind which became a hit of the 2016 spring fashion shows. Giant fashion houses such as Versace, Saint Laurent or Valentino all rediscovered the original M-65 coat manufactured by Alpha Industries. Some decorated it with beads, other designers coloured the original outfits.
The basis of the trend was the 50th anniversary of the creation of the M-65 coat in 2015. Now let’s review the story of this classic piece of clothing.
Alpha Industries has been delivering outstanding quality military clothing for the US Army for decades. The first M-51 and M-43 coats performed their task well and soldiers were content wearing them but the company designers continually refined the products along with recent needs. The present form of the M-65 jacket thus came into existence. The added padding, the two shoulder straps and extra large pockets all proved to be useful both for the soldiers on field, and for the ground service personnel. It also excellently held its ground in Southeastern Asian temperatures.
A few years later it became an almost obligatory outfit for the rebel youth and the activists of the anti-war movements. Famous artists, politicians wore the model, such as John Lennon, Jane Fonda or John Kerry.
Having started wearing the M-65 model in masses, its sudden emergence on screen did not seem too unexpected, either. The model turned up in giant box office hits such as ’Taxi Driver’, ’Rambo’ and ’Annie Hall’. Perhaps it is not by chance that the model is visible in these famous movies – what they have in common is their costume designer, Ruth Morley.
Celebrities like adding M-65 coats to their wardrobe, as well. In May, Rihanna was seen in a camouflage coloured model in New York, while David Beckham voted for the classic olive green piece on his spring walk.
Do not miss out on trends either, so browse the M-65 coats available in different colours. Due to its strong fabric, it will definitely be a perdurable piece of your wardrobe.
Explorer coat – your comrade below zero
Were the Explorer parka a boxer we would say he is a true heavy-weight. But away with poor puns, the point is that the Alpha Explorer coat gives perfect protection in snowstorms, freezing winds or pouring rain. The outer layer is made of 100% Oxford nylon consisting of poliamid threads. This material is way more persistent and wind-proof than regular nylon.
Explorer jackets are also made in different models. The basic one has a large hood whose rim bears a detachable artificial fur collar. The zip closes way up but in order to prevent wind blowing in, a windproof strip with an extra button was designed for the front of the coat.
Besides the fact that it pleasantly fits the body, it has a lot of storage space. Apart from the tilted pocket high on the chest, two more deep pockets are placed on the front where all our documents and valuables fit in.
The Explorer II is an improved model whose front part has a striking difference: it has no double closure, neither the hood is padded with fur, however, an extra inside part secures the excellent conservation of temperature.
Further models were created as well, such as the Explorer without a badge which is similar to the basic model but without the iconic badges.
The Explorer model was manufactured by Alpha designers with genuine fur, too, which adds an exclusive look and pleasant feeling to its owner.
The models for women have nothing different from their male versions, solely their sizes are smaller. Moreover, kids neither can be left out from the whole story, so their warm coats got also designed in a unique manner.