SAS man’s new code: Who Wears Wins

The West Australian - - NEWS - Mal­colm Quekett In Afghanistan: Mark Wales Tough as leather: Mark Wales, in New York, wears a Pathfinder jacket. Pic­ture: Evan Robin­son

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.”

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