Fashionably, what constitutes “classic”? Is it when an item becomes considered a basic piece required in the foundation of every wardrobe among the likes of jeans, T-shirts and hoodies? One would want to believe each and every version, no matter the decade, cost or materials, is guaranteed to have required design elements allowing it to be worn by any sex or age indefinitely.

A staple in collections from high fashion houses to streetwear brands alike, the bomber jacket's roots are firmly planted in function from its earliest days in the military and more specifically by pilots. Not unlike plenty of men’s sartorial references stemming from military history, the bomber jacket (or, more technically, the MA-1) has managed to only get better while staying relevant for 60 years, and it all started with Alpha Industries.

Flight jackets as we know them today were first introduced in 1948 when Robert Lane and his wife’s company, Superior Tags Corporation, were commissioned to supply the Department of Defense. For reasons unknown, their brand, which offered the B-10 bomber and A-10 flight pants, shut down in 1952. Under the name Rolen Sportswear, Lane would almost immediately take over the same contracts and then some, finding such success that he decided to start yet another brand, Dobbs Industries. He’d go on to partner with Lane’s accountant Samuel Gelber. In 1959, Lane was accused of trying to bribe a government official thus killing his credibility and resulting in Dobbs Industries and Rolen Sportswear losing all government contracts.

Throughout these personnel and name changes the original B-10 flight jacket would trade its introductory fur collar for a knit one and transition from being produced in dark navy blue to the color synonymous with all things military: sage green. They would also start to be utilized by law enforcement. It’s a move that would launch its own specific design changes, like the once-real fur collar being switched to acrylic faux fur. Albeit less warm and arguably lower quality, the faux fur lasts longer in storage for wearers using them in conditions that offered fluctuating temperatures, requiring jackets to end up tucked away for months at a time.

Gelber took note from the Department of Defense (DoD) and also cut ties with his former client and brief business partner following the aforementioned scandal. By the end of 1959 Gerber would link up with Herman Wynn and found Alpha Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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