Continuing 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 their impact on the brand. Today we hear from Michael “Cowboy” McCartin, retired Navy pilot and Alpha’s Director of Global Military Sales. He is a true American hero, with decades of service in the U.S. Navy. Today, he helps ensure that Alpha’s designs stay true to our military heritage.
What’s your relationship with Alpha?
Cowboy- “I began working as a consultant to Alpha, with Mike’s dad, Alan Cirker, back in 1996. Alan asked me to review several marketing packages for relevance and authenticity. It was a great opportunity and a fun time, which turned into a long term relationship with Alpha. In 2014, Mike asked me to join Alpha full-time as the Director of Global Military Sales. As the title indicates, I handle all of our Military Sales within CONUS (Continental United States) and internationally. Another function of my duties is to maintain the relevance and authenticity of Alpha products. As a former Navy pilot, and military historian, it’s a job I enjoy immensely.”
What role do you play in Alpha staying true to its roots?
Cowboy- “I get a chance to work with our incredible team as they design and produce each seasonal line. I get involved in the very beginning of each line. We discuss upcoming fashion trends, and I propose military tie-ins that can eventually become the themes of the season and help influence the design.
Based on your military experience, how important is the apparel you wear when in service?
Cowboy- “ Extremely! Conditions on the flight deck, especially at night, can be extremely bad. High winds, rain and/or salt water over the flight deck. You just want to stay dry and warm prior to flying off on a mission. In the desert, it’s gets bitter cold and we fly primarily at night. Clothing suitable to a variety of conditions is extremely important to the mission itself.”
What jacket do you remember wearing in service that really helped you in the field?
Cowboy- “ The CWU-45P was my jacket to fly in. It was comfortable and moved freely in the cockpit. My G-2 was for working in the squadron, base, and in the Pentagon. For a long time we weren’t authorized to wear our G-2s in the Pentagon but got approval while I was stationed there.
When I was operating with the SEALs as a pilot, my go-to jacket was the M-65. It was great for operating in the field and roomy for layers. But, when the weather was bad, and we were in the field for a long op, ECWCS (Extended Cold Weather Clothing System) got a lot of use since it was so flexible.”
How did fashion respond to the military needs of the 60s/70s?
Cowboy- “Military needs have helped industry advance throughout U.S. history. Aviation is a great example, but you can find that comparable technology injects into fashion and apparel design and construction. Improved materials that allowed troops to be more effective and efficient, and mass production of apparel for extended military efforts are just two.”
What do you feel when you see military styles being worn as fashion pieces?
Cowboy- “I love it! Particularly the M-65 and the MA-1. The silhouette lines are so clean and distinctive. I love wearing the MA-1, the different weights and colors. I love personalizing the jackets with my prior squadron patches. Alpha spends a lot of time reviewing designs to ensure we don’t offend or contribute to Stolen Valor in any way. Our pieces are inspired by and a tribute to the original military designs.. That respect, to military designs and traditions, sets Alpha apart.”