As part of our 60th Anniversary celebration, we’re looking to those who wear Alpha Industries with pride, ensuring we’re not just part of their wardrobe, but part of their identity. These people are our Everyday Heroes and we’re excited to share their stories and the way they are making an impact. Today we hear from Tyler Way, co-founder of HasHeart, an organization that brings veterans’ stories to life through design. Alpha is a proud sponsor of the HasHeart 50 State: Veterans + Artists United Tour, and the merchandise partner for HasHeart
What inspired you to start Has Heart?
Tyler- “The idea started over a cup of coffee in 2010 with Michael Hyacinthe, an 8-year U.S. Navy Veteran that was born in Haiti and raised in the Bronx, NY. Although both of us were living in Grand Rapids, MI, we realized the disconnect between his world as a Veteran and my world as an artist/designer. We felt fashion could be a powerful and meaningful intersection of these two worlds not just within our own city, but even more so across the country.
Michael then met a quadriplegic Marine whose injuries from Iraq damaged his vocal cords, leaving him unable to speak. His mind was active and healthy, but he had no way to communicate. All he could do was nod his head “Yes,” or “No.” Michael learned from his full-time nurse that he loved collecting graphic tees, so we worked with him to create a shirt design of his own. That was such a powerful process for him to be able to open up and share and for myself as the designer to help give him this new voice, that we knew we needed to continue partnering Veterans with designers to help share their stories.”
What is your mission with this organization?
Tyler- “Our mission is to utilize the mediums of art, design, and fashion to share Veterans’ stories in order to build a bridge of awareness and better understanding between the Veteran and civilian worlds.”
What do you love the most about sharing veteran’s stories?
Tyler- “The creative process between each Veteran and the designer is by far my favorite part because every time I’m able to see two strangers meet, talk, connect, collaborate, and create something that can impact countless others, all while having a profound impact on each one of us in the room.”
How have people — veterans, artists and the general public — responded to the initiative?
Tyler- “There’s nothing else quite like [HAS HEART], so it sometimes takes a minute to explain the concept of partnering a Veteran with a designer and the how, what, and why we do it. But as soon as they see it, hear it, and experience a design and the story behind it, they’re always blown away — sometimes even with a few tears in their eyes.”
What made you want to collaborate with Alpha Industries? Why was it a good fit for Has Heart?
Tyler- “Our ideal apparel partner for our “50 States: Veterans + Artists United” tour was Alpha Industries, hands down, because of the authentic military heritage combined with a cultural relevance and timeless aesthetic that no other brand has in the industry. We’re thankful Alpha was so open, receptive, and supportive of our mission — it’s been the perfect fit and hopefully will be for years to come.”
This year, Alpha Industries celebrates its 60th anniversary. When you hear this, does it make you view Alpha in a new way? Does it change the way you value the brand?
Tyler- “To do anything for sixty years is a feat, but to be a family-run fashion brand that has remained true to its heritage for sixty years is unheard of. In a world of fast-fashion and knock-offs, heritage brands like Alpha Industries deserve to be recognized for their influence and authenticity. We’re honored to be a very small piece of celebrating 60 years of Alpha. Cheers to many, many more!”