SAS man’s new code: Who Wears Wins
The ties that bind Mark Wales to his mates in the Special Air Service Regiment are numerous.
Like many of them, he saw his fair share of danger, including in Afghanistan. He shares their values of mates above self and sees himself defined in many ways by his time in uniform.
But it is the path the former officer has chosen since leaving the regiment that makes him different. Mr Wales is in New York pursuing a career in fashion.
He is a co-founder of “tough luxury” brand Kill_Kapture, which as the name suggests is shaped heavily by the men, uniforms and environment of the special forces.
Mr Wales, 36, said the idea came to him in Afghanistan. He realised their uniforms were incredibly advanced — streamlined, lightweight and functional. And they looked cool.
The journey from soldier to fashion began in the mining town of Newman, where he was born. “I tell people in New York that I was raised by dingoes in the desert,” he said. “They often believe me.” Mr Wales grew up in Geraldton and went to Leeming Senior High. He knew he wanted to join the SAS when a mate showed him photos of black-clad SAS soldiers storming the Iranian Embassy in London. “The second I saw what they were doing, I knew that was it,” he said.
Mr Wales joined the army in 1996 and the SAS in 2004. He deployed to East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon during his time in uniform before going to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 2010. He had a few “close calls” in Afghanistan but was not wounded. Some mates were not so lucky.
“The selflessness of the people I served with was really inspiring,” Mr Wales said.
“They all put the mission and the integrity of their team well before their own needs.
“I left when I felt I could not give 100 per cent any more.”
In 2012, he went to the US to study for an MBA at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, then went to New York.
His military life had had a big impact. “You wear a uniform and symbols that define you and give you a lot of self respect,” Mr Wales said. “That is what led me to start Kill_Kapture.”
His first product is the kangaroo-leather jacket Pathfinder, modelled by former servicemen on killkapture.com.
“They just have a different look,” he said. “You can see it in their faces they have done something tough.”