Alpha Industries MA-1
Rude boy, Buffalo
The MA-1 was the first jacket I obsessed about when I was about eleven years old. All the Rude Boys in our area wore them with pride; they'd boast how theirs was an original, and would prove the authenticity of their jacket by regularly displaying the label tucked in the inside outer left pocket. Wearing a fake was frowned upon. These Rude Boys and Skinheads took a pride in their appearance. It was all about the look, and SKA music.
The MA-1 was created in the mid 1950s to replace the thick, heavy and cumbersome leather flying jackets that were needed in WWII to stop the pilots freezing to death in their planes. The U.S.A.A.F required a durable, warm but light-weight jacket for the new jet-age pilots. They wore the jacket in the colour Sage Green because of its ability to blend in with the jungle when a pilot had the misfortune of being shot down. The MA-1 is also reversible, with an almost luminous survival orange lining, just in case you need to be spotted from the air.
Alpha Industries had the foresight to market a version of the MA-1 to civilians in the 1970s. Here in the UK it became the jacket of choice for the discerning and fashionable Rude Boy and Skinhead. Unfortunately, this was also the reason for its social demise, as it was adopted by the less discerning Skinhead too. This meant that the market became flooded with cheap, knock-off market stall copies, making the MA-1 socially unacceptable to wear.
Then Ray Petri, the acclaimed stylist of the 80s, re-invented the MA-1's image by making it a staple of The Buffalo style. Ray's uniform was a MA-1 worn with a plain white T-shirt, and faded original Levi 501s. Kathryn Flett wrote a great article on Ray Petri in The Guardian.
Despite the jacket moving in and out of fashion, and the legions of fakes available, the Alpha Industries MA-1 will forever endure. Its functionality and comfort, combined with attitude, means it makes a statement wherever it goes. Made in Knoxville USA , the Alpha Industries MA-1, with the three bar label in the left pocket, is still a jacket that every Obsessive should have in their wardrobe, regardless of fashion.
Category: Flight Jacket
Country of Origin : USA
Brand/Make/Model: Alpha Industries
Type: MA-1 (replica)
Year: 1950s to Date
Why: Design classic, comfortable and functional. The definitive lightweight flight jacket, with an attitude.
Photo: Ray Massey
Location: Camden park studios