First Look: Alpha Industries opens first physical store

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture

A brand founded more than 60 years has opened its first-ever store.

The military-inspired apparel brand has opened its first brick-and-mortar store, a pop-up in a landmark building in the SoHo section of Manhattan. The 3,000-sq.-ft. space will be open through January 2023.

The store, designed by the Lionesque Group, an MG2 studio, reflects the brand’s heritage. Alpha Industries was founded in 1959 as a contractor to the U.S. military. It has since evolved into a global commercial manufacturer of American military style and fashion apparel. Mike Cirker, the grandson of company founder Samuel Gelber, is the company’s CEO.

More than 1,000 feet of orange Paracord rope — originally used for parachutes —is suspended from the ceiling, holding racks of bomber jackets and puffer coats. The rope is interspersed with the building’s white Corinthian columns.

“Alpha Industries has a rich military heritage, and for their first brick-and-mortar location, we dug into that heritage to create an environment that is unique to their brand,” said Melissa Gonzalez, an MG2 principal and founder of The Lionesque Group.

The design brings Alpha’s long relationship with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force to life through the use of military gear — from vintage military trunks to yards and yards of Woodland camo to a ‘Remove Before Flight’ hang tag ceiling installation.”

The displays accentuate the 14’ ceilings and draw the eye toward a wall of two dozen vintage designs from the brand’s archives. Vintage military trunks with sandbags anchor displays that bring to mind military bunkers.

A 13.5’ rudder from a Douglas DC-6 stands tall as a reminder of the close relationship with Alpha Industries and the U.S. Department of Defense and connects to the brands earliest roots, supplying parkas and shipboard shirts.

Along the wall, is a visual history of the brand and its relationship with the U.S. Military and pop culture. The earliest example in the display is a B-150D flight jacket and the most recent is from the collab between Alpha Industries, New Era, and MLB. Five orange shadow boxes provide descriptions of the most well-known styles, including the MA-1 Bomber Jacket.

An eye-catching ceiling installation of the iconic "Remove Before Flight" hang tags — 1,100 were used — spotlights the store's seating area. Originally designed to serve as a reminder and a warning that certain mechanical parts needed to be inspected and enabled before taking off, the hang tags have become synonymous with Alpha Industries and act as a key identifier on the brand's apparel.

The armchairs in the store have the feel of a vintage aircraft with sheet metal side panels and brown leather cushioning.

The fitting rooms, inspired by military barracks, were designed inside and out in Woodland camo, arguably the most recognizable pattern in the U.S. Military. More than 100 yards were used for the fitting rooms and as a backdrop to the cash-wrap desk.

The skylight over the cash-wrap desk was left in its original state for a gritty, in-the-field aesthetic.

“Pop-ups are a great way to test a new location, share a new collection, or experiment with a new store design,” said Gonzalez. “Alpha Industries is doing all three by creating this experiential retail space: ‘Pop-up as a prototype.’”