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This Alpha Industries M-65 review will walk you through a time-tested, durable classic that has graced the backs of legends.
- Price $225 on alphaindustries.com
- Material 50/50 nylon/cotton (exterior), 65/35 cotton/polyester (lining)
- Made in China
In my years of discovering fashion, I've gone through many phases as anyone would. Before my twenties, back when the internet wasn't as accessible, I didn't have Instagram or Reddit to influence my tastes. Like most impressionable teenagers, I would basically wear whatever my friends were wearing.
In the beginning, my signature look consisted of JNCO jeans and Mambo loud shirts. Yep, it was an interesting era. As fashion changed with the times, my bottoms became slimmer with a pair of Levi's 501s, and tops were also toned down with graphic tees. After that phase, inspired by books like Take Ivy by Shosuke Ishizu, I got into American prep, swapping graphic tees with Brook Brother's oxfords and cuffed up chinos.
That phase soon ended with my discovery of cult brand, Supreme and the corresponding fuccboi culture in my late 20s. Finally, I landed on minimalist, technical apparel in my 30s, the category on which many of my reviews are based.
Despite each fashion phase being significantly different from the one before, there was a single thread that ran through most of them. That is my love for the heritage and history of the piece of garment.
To me, the story that goes behind each piece in my wardrobe is something I enjoy learning about. My Stanley Travel Mug, Vaer D7 Watch, or VETRA Workwear Jacket are some examples of pieces with history to be revelled.
The iconic Alpha Industries M-65 is, arguably, the granddaddy of heritage.
The History of the M-65 Field Jacket
The M-65 Field Jacket is a global streetwear staple, but the iconic piece actually has its utilitarian beginnings in the US army.
The M-65 was a military issue jacket and the 65 in the name refers to the year that it was issued. Before M-65, there were M-41, M-43, and M-51. The M-65 was, perhaps, the most iconic of them all.
During the Vietnam War period of 1955 to 1975, the M-65 was developed specifically for the war. The notable upgrades (from the M-51) were the hood that could be hidden into the collar and velcro on the sleeve cuffs and collar.
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What remained from its predecessors were the four large pockets and inner buttons for a detachable liner.
The jacket also came with a new color tone called “Olive Green 107”, introduced specifically for jungle camouflage.
The company tasked with producing this jacket, as part of a contract with the Department of Defense, was none other than Alpha Industries.
After the war, the jacket went from the backs of soldiers, ironically, to that of anti-war protesters as a symbol of the counter-culture against the unpopular war. Notable wearers included John Kerry, a veteran, who would later go on to become a US presidential candidate. The jacket, depending on the wearer, was used as a support of peace or American militancy.
The jacket turned into an icon when it started appearing in movies, like on Frank Serpico in Serpico (1973), Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976), or Woody Allen in Annie Hall (1977).
The garment has since sealed its place as a fashion staple. The classic silhouette, military roots, and timeless appeal give it the perfect balance of style and function. So much so that you will find almost every fashion powerhouse, like Supreme, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton, offering their own version of the M-65.
At the center of the entire history of the M-65, is Alpha Industries, who have continued making this jacket even 50 years after it was first issued.
Without further ado, here's the review of a true classic.
I designed a thing.
I found a 100 year old company that would create these heirloom quality canisters for me. They are handmade and will keep your tea leaves, coffee beans or anything that you need dry for years to come.
or read review
The M-65 is not just military-influenced, it is a piece of military garment. The style is time-tested and iconic. It's hard to go wrong.
The color most would associate with the M-65 is olive green. A few years ago, I decided to wear only black clothing, so I was glad that the jacket comes in a black version. As a fully-remote designer, I have virtually no restrictions when it comes to office wear. But, the black version certainly makes it more office-ready, compared to something flashy like a classic camo print.
The entire jacket is black, with the exception of the brass zippers. While the front zipper will be hidden when zipped, the zippers around the stand collar are hard to miss. Despite this, the black jacket looks stealthy and doesn't draw unnecessary attention.
The M-65 fits large, partly to accommodate the liner, the ALS/92. I got my usual American clothing size of large. For my 6'0″ and 205 lbs build, the fit of the M-65 was relaxed but not oversized to the point that it gets hard to coordinate with.
To help with the silhouette, there are pleats along the sleeves. There is also an internal drawstring that helps bring the waist in to avoid an overtly frumpy look.
Unlike the rest of the jacket, the hood is too small. It's not sized like those comfortably-sized hoods like on your favorite cozy hoodie. It's just enough to wrap around your head like a shako and would not be something I put on unless I absolutely have to.
While velcro on the cuffs allows you to adjust the size of the opening, leaving it unfastened is an unflattering look and I would always keep it fastened.
On the cuffs, there are also pointed flaps, which are hand shield extensions, that you can keep into the sleeve with a velcro fastener.
The look of a military jacket isn't something new since its presence in menswear over the years isn't to be trifled with. The distinctive features of the M-65 are its four large pockets in the front, originally designed for soldiers to carry bullets and gear with ease. The other design details that complete the look are the epaulet and stand collar.
While the style of the M-65 has stood the test of time, depending on your grooming and outfit, the jacket can make you look haggard or lazy. Because it's a utilitarian jacket, it looks better if you keep the rest of your outfit simple, but clean. Pairing it with a few, but not too many, pieces of military-influenced gear, like the GORUCK MACV-1, will help bring the look together.
The exterior fabric is 50/50 nylon/cotton. The relatively higher blend of nylon is to give it the toughness to meet military demands. The lining is 65/35 cotton/polyester, with a higher blend of cotton for comfort and warmth.
I'm sure you've seen fitpics with well-worn military jackets. Like a good pair of selvage denim, the jacket looks better as it gets worn in.
The jackets are made-in-China. Now, I've experienced many amazing made-in-China products, like the Outlier Ecstasy in the Rain. China is now a manufacturing powerhouse and made-in-China can no longer be associated with poor quality. It comes down the selection of the right partner and quality control, both of which is apparent with this jacket.
With any good jacket, there is a break-in period. Right out of the box, the jacket feels a little tough and papery. With it on your back season after season, the fabric gets softer. Together with the oversized fit, it'll soon feel as comfortable as a teddy bear giving you an infinite hug.
The jacket is for intermediate weather and unlike some utility jackets, I would not recommend this for summer or the temperatures you get between the cool and hot seasons.
While this is a feature on many military jackets, the four large pockets on the front are truly convenient, namely the bottom two. I find myself dumping all sorts of things in them.
The two bottom pockets are the ones that I find myself sliding my hands into most of the time. The position was just right and it's great that you can use it as both a pocket for stuff and your hands.
Some handwarmer pockets are positioned at an angle which makes it easier to slip your hands in, but at the same time, easier for things to fall out. On the other hand, without the angle, it's not comfortable to have your hands in for a long time. The M-65‘s pockets are low enough that they are comfortable to have your hands in. They are also spacious enough such that you could have your hands and other contents in it at the same time.
The top two pockets, however, are just a little high on the chest. You will have difficulty reaching all the way into it with the jacket on.
While the jacket is mostly the same design as the original, there are small tweaks to cater to the modern wearer. The velcro-ed phone pocket on the inner left side is one of the tweaks. It's a great pocket for your smart device, although I find it easier to dump it in the front pockets.
Opposite it, on the inner right side, is a similarly-sized pocket. Instead of a velcro closure, this comes with a hidden zipper. As there is a flap that goes over the zipper to conceal it, the opening is smaller compared to the pocket on the other side.
The zippers around the stand collar unzip to reveal a hidden hood. The hood actually takes up the space in the back of the jacket and not just the collar. Therefore, it doesn't make the collar look bulky. However, it can sometimes be a little difficult to pull the hood out of its pocket.
I had thought that the compartment that holds the hood could be used as a pocket like a hidden backpack, but since the bottom is open, this was not possible.
There is velcro around the cuff that lets you limit the amount of airflow that goes up your sleeves. However, there is still quite a bit of space for wind to travel up your sleeves at the tightest setting. I kinda wished they could have a longer strip of velcro for an even tighter setting.
The Alpha Industries M-65 is, without a doubt, an icon in menswear. Having graced the backs of many legends, the feeling of heritage is second to none. The military roots are apparent in the bombproof construction, utilitarian features and silhouette. While some features have been updated for modern times, the jacket is still very much a timeless classic and will serve you for decades to come.