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The Timeline

 

1957

Dobbs Industries founded

Samuel Gelber and Robert Lane found Dobbs Industries on June 7, 1957, in Knoxville, TN, in order to manufacture outerwear for the U.S. Department of Defense. Soon Dobbs is producing Air Force flight jackets and hoods and Army raincoats.

The Dobbs MA-1

When Alpha Industries began it acted as a subcontractor for Dobbs and produced MA-1 flight jackets.

 

1959

Alpha Industries incorporated

Samuel Gelber founds Alpha Industries, Inc. in Knoxville, TN on October 17, 1959. He enlists the help of Herman “Breezy” Wynn, a well-known Knoxville businessman and experienced government contract manufacturer, to get his new company off the ground.

Samuel Gelber (pictured with his wife Mildred)

1959

Alpha Wins First DOD Contracts

Alpha Industries is awarded its first U.S. Department of Defense contracts to manufacture Air Force N-3B parkas and Navy shipboard shirts. These are the first real tests for the fledgling apparel company.

 


Air Force N-3B
Air Force N-3B

 

 

1961

John Niethammer joins Alpha

John Niethammer joins Alpha Industries to implement a quality control plan, which was required for all contractors working for the Department of Defense. He would go on to play a major role in the company and its expansion.

John Niethammer

1963

The MA-1 and N-2B

Alpha Industries is awarded its first contracts for several outerwear styles, including the MA-1 flight jacket and N-2B parka. Alpha would become a dominant manufacturer of these iconic military jackets in the coming years.

early MA-1

1965

The M-65 Field Coat

Alpha Industries receives its first contracts for the Army’s newly developed M-65 field coat. Alpha goes on to become a dominant manufacturer of this style, receiving M-65 government contracts every year for the next 25 years.

M-65 Field Jacket

1970

Alpha Tries Out the Commercial Market

To keep production lines running between government contracts, Alpha Industries begins manufacturing small amounts of jackets specifically for the commercial market. Rather than only using the Alpha name, several different brand names are used, including Concord Industries and Intercon Apparel.

Concord Industries Jacket Label

1973

Samuel Gelber starts two new companies

Samuel Gelber helps establish two new companies, Summit Apparel and Benton Manufacturing, to meet the increasing demands of the Department of Defense for more specialized clothing pieces. Relying heavily on Summit and Benton as subcontractors, Alpha Industries begins to produce a wide variety of new items, including men’s trousers and hoods and women’s field jackets and raincoats.

Women's Field Coat and Liner

1976

The Navy's Extreme Cold Weather Impermeable jacket

Alpha Industries is awarded its first contract for the Navy’s Extreme Cold Weather Impermeable jacket. This unique jacket features a plastic foam lining designed to keep sailors afloat if they fell overboard. Alpha would continue to make this jacket for the military throughout the late 1970s and 1980s.

Extreme Cold Weather Impermeable Jacket

1978

Alpha and the Natick Textile Laboratory

The U.S. Navy’s Natick Textile Laboratory partners with Alpha Industries to test the suitability of a new experimental buoyant jacket for mass production. Government laboratories relied upon experienced contractors for real time production testing of new designs or revisions to existing designs. Numerous modifications to jacket designs came about because of test production at Alpha’s Knoxville factory.

U.S. Navy buoyant jacket

1980

The CWU 36/P and 45/P Nomex Jackets

Alpha is awarded its first contract from the Department of Defense to produce the CWU-36/P Nomex flight jacket. This new jacket was made of fire-resistant fabric and components and replaced the nylon flight jackets, like the MA-1, that had been standard issue since the 1950s. Alpha would also go on to make the heavier version of this jacket, called the CWU-45/P, beginning in 1995.

CWU 36/P & 45/P NOMEX

1982

New Leaders step up at ALPHA

Alpha’s founder, Samuel Gelber, passes away at the age of 67. His wife, Mildred Gelber, son-in-law, Alan Cirker, and John Niethammer, become the leaders of the company. They begin to expand Alpha’s commercial business and build its brand image by trademarking the three bars found on Alpha’s commercial labels since the 1960s.

3-Bar Label

1984

The first wholesale catalogue

The first Alpha Industries wholesale catalog is produced featuring the iconic styles that Alpha is currently making for the servicemen and women of the U.S. armed forces. Alpha’s well-known three-line imagery is prominently featured throughout.

Cover of Alpha's first catalog

1986

The ECWCS Parka

The Department of Defense awards Alpha Industries its first contracts for the ECWCS parka. The parka is part of a new layered clothing system developed by the Natick Textile Laboratory for Army, Marine Corps and Air Force personnel. Alpha would continue to manufacture the Woodland Camouflage ECWCS parka for the military throughout the 1980s and 1990s

ECWCS Parka

1988

A brand logo is introduced

After nearly 30 years in business, Alpha Industries develops its first brand logo. It debuts on the cover of Alpha’s second wholesale catalog, which features an expanded product line including jackets specifically designed for the commercial market.

Cover of our second catalog

1992

The "flying A" Logo is born

As Alpha’s presence in the consumer market continues to grow, it’s time for a facelift. The “Flying A” logo is introduced, referencing Alpha’s military heritage as well as the three-bar labels that Alpha had become known for.

Alpha's old and new labels and logos

1993

Alpha Industries Germany

In 1993, Alpha Industries GmbH& Co. KG was founded by Rainer Knapp and Norbert Schneider in Neu-Isenburg / Germany.

Alpha builds a presence in Germany

1994

Advertising Alpha

Launch of Alpha Industries’ first domestic and international marketing campaign aimed at increasing brand awareness. The campaign includes several print ads detailing the quality and durability of Alpha’s products as well as Alpha’s long-time status as a manufacturer for the military. The ads appear in both military trade and popular entertainment magazines.

An early Alpha advertisement

1996

Going International

As Alpha’s reputation began to grow internationally in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a need to expand the commercial business overseas. In 1996, Alpha formed a partnership with a key distributor in Japan. A similar agreement was formed in Germany a few years later. The agreements allowed each distributor to develop its own advertising campaigns to better cater to the unique needs of each area.

Alpha builds a presence in Japan

1997

Alpha's first Website launched

n April 1997, Alpha Industries launched its website as part of its comprehensive advertising and marketing strategy. On the site, consumers could see images and information about Alpha’s product line. Customers could also order select jackets, including the military versions of the MA-1 and CWU-45/P, via an email ordering system. In addition to showcasing Alpha’s product line, the site also had a section devoted to the history of the company as well as an educational section about U.S. military aircraft.
Alpha has continued to innovate and upgrade its online presence. There have been many iterations of the site since 1997, but the focus has continued to be highlighting Alpha’s high-quality product line and rich heritage. The most recent upgrade to the site came in 2014.

The first Alpha website

1998

Own collection for the European Market

At the really beginning from 1993 till 1997, only the basic and core styles were available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. After that time period, in 1998, Alpha Industries started to create their own collection for the European Market, not only a Men’s Collection also Women’s and Kids got their own beside the basic and core styles that were already available.

Flying Hero

2005

Taking on Collaborations

Alpha’s iconic military silhouettes continued to grow in popularity throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Other market leaders in the fashion industry took notice and wanted to partner with Alpha to create unique co-branded products. Some of the successful partnerships were with Stussy, Doc Martens and Breitling.
Today, Alpha continues to do collaborations around the worldwith a few selected partners.

Alpha Industries x Stussy 25th Anniversary Jacket

2009

Alpha Celebrates 50th Anniversary

October 17, 2009, marked the 50th anniversary of Alpha Industries. Over the course of 50 years, Alpha had transformed itself from its beginnings as a successful government contractor into the globally recognized brand it had become in 2009. To celebrate this milestone year, Alpha created a commemorative jacket, published an Alpha history book, and commissioned a series of MA-1 art jackets from artist Brian Wood.
Alpha teamed up with a Japanese designer to create a unique 50th anniversary flight jacket for men and women. The jacket combined details from the military jackets Alpha had become known for with modern touches like a two-tone washed nylon shell, D-ring and stencil details, and contrast stitching. A special 50th anniversary patch was designed and attached to the chest. Also, a black 50th anniversary ribbon was created and attached to the sleeve pocket. The jackets for men and women were available in sage green and black and proved to be extremely popular around the globe.
To go along with the jacket, Alpha’s second generation CEO, Alan Cirker, wrote a book chronicling Alpha’s first 50 years in business. Published in 2009, The Alpha Story features many photographs of vintage Alpha styles from the corporate archives and the informative text explains Alpha’s past as a government contractor and the journey to its present position in the global fashion market. The book continues to be an essential tool to educate people about Alpha’s rich heritage.
To visually demonstrate the many world events that had occurred in the 50 years since its founding, Alpha commissioned artist Brian Wood to use the MA-1 jacket as a canvas for a series of art jackets. The six jackets, each representing a decade that Alpha been in business, were embellished with images and objects representing the major world events, influential people, and pop culture moments that defined each decade. The jackets were displayed at an anniversary event in 2009 and are now preserved in the corporate archives.

Brian Wood 4 Alpha

The 1980s MA-1 flight jacket featured favorites such as the Rubik Cube, the Nintendo 64 and 'Ghostbusters'.

2005

Taking on Collaborations

Alpha’s iconic military silhouettes continued to grow in popularity throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Other market leaders in the fashion industry took notice and wanted to partner with Alpha to create unique co-branded products. Some of the successful partnerships were with Stussy, Doc Martens and Breitling.
Today, Alpha continues to do collaborations around the worldwith a few selected partners.

Alpha Industries x Stussy 25th Anniversary Jacket

2015

Alpha Industries x Overkill Berlin

We teamed up with Overkill Shop in Berlin on an reversible MA-1 Jacket.
The MA-1 „VAGABUND“!
This exclusive collaboration jacket, based on the original one, takes inspiration from some of Berlin ?s many sub-cultures such as the now famous Graffiti & Techno scenes that have been part of the cities unique identity for a number of years. Blunt, bold, loud and an authentic impression of Berlin life and culture.

Alpha Industries x Overkill

VAGABUND

2015

M-65 50th Anniversary

In 1965 the U.S. Department of Defense started to develop the blueprints for what would become the replacement to the M-51 and M-43 field jackets. The specifications called for improvements such as a built-in hood that rolled and hid in the collar, two shoulder epaulets, extra pockets for carrying equipment, cargo, and accessories, and a brass zipper which would replace the button up style beforehand – allowing soldiers to quickly and effortlessly close and open their jackets for easy access.
The new field jacket would also feature Velcro on both cuffs in case the soldier wanted to roll up his sleeves. The detachable liner allowed soldiers to adjust the jacket based on the fluctuating temperatures. It would be called the M-65 Field Coat.
Alpha was one of the first to produce the M-65 in 1966 and we went on to produce them for the government through 1990. Alpha made the first M-65 for the commercial market in the 1970s and by the 1990s they were available in a variety of colors.
Tonight, to commemorate this iconic jacket, Alpha Industries is holding a private celebration in Washington, DC, our global headquarters. Partners, wholesalers and media will all gather to pay tribute to the M-65 Field Coat and its role in both military and fashion history.

M-65 Anniversary