Alpha Stories: the history and cultural signification of military apparel in fashion

Photography by Hannah Norton

I spoke to Alpha Industries about the history of the bomber jacket and military apparel in fashion.

Military outerwear is so much about function and survival, which seems apt for right now: we’re facing environmental uncertainty while technology is enabling us to ‘do more’ with our minds and bodies in our daily lives. Fashion always responds in some way to this kind of social shift in order to stay fresh and relevant, so now it’s about high function and survival even in the luxury and fashion markets. Take the bomber jacket: since its birth in the forties, it has been altered, remade and updated to reflect the needs of its wearer. Small alterations to the shape, size and weight of it were made during its military life, but it has retained other aspects – the functional pocket details and weatherproof nylon finish. It is this sense of adaptability and durability that makes military outerwear so appealing and has led to its deconstruction and reconstruction by the likes of Helmut Lang in the 90s, and its reinvention in oversized proportions by Vetements in 2017. Martine Rose’s AW15 inside-out Bomber Jacket featured the original orange lining for visibility in emergencies but placed it on the outside. This attention to detail has really trickled down into fashion – how can a pocket or fastening become a design feature.

Read my interview as part of the Alpha 60 campaign

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