Streetwear Parkas – Cold Weather Fashion
The parka hasn’t always enjoyed the reputation that it has today. The original ‘snorkel parka’ was first developed in the 1950s, for use by the military when they were deployed to extremely cold areas. With its quilted lining and fur hood, the parka was perfect for protecting against the harsh conditions that the military could frequently find themselves exposed too. However, the parka was somewhat criticized for obscuring vision and severely limited a person’s ability to hear properly, both of which are vital to one’s survival in combat situations.
The parka was soon sold to the civilian market; although the fur-lined hood was replaced with a synthetic alternative, and many other alterations were made to the original design specifications made by the U.S. government. This meant that newly developed parkas sold on the civilian market often varied greatly in quality, although the one thing that did remain consistent was the color which was invariably military green. However, this did not dent the parka’s popularity, and the coat soon became somewhat of a fashion staple among Americans, due to its practicality and relatively low cost.
It wasn’t until the early to mid-1960’s that the parka secured its popularity in the UK, when it became symbolic of a sub-culture known as the ‘mod’ movement. ‘Mods’ (short for modernist) were characterized by their scooters and sharp sense of style. The parka therefore, was ideal for protecting their (often tailor-made) suits from grease, of which they’d invariably get splashed with when riding about on their two-wheeled vehicle of choice.
The mod movement began to decline, and with it, so did the popularity of the Parka, when former mod bands such as The Who and Small Faces changed their music and style. However, it enjoyed somewhat of a revival in the late 1970s and early 1980s, largely thanks to the 1979 film, ‘Quadrophenia’.
By the mid-1980s, the popularity of the parka had once again plummeted. ‘Train-spotters’ had by now realized that the parka (often used interchangeably with the word anorak) served as the perfect protective clothing for their hobby, and it had therefore garnered a reputation as being somewhat ‘geeky’. It’s also possible that the parka was simply just too practical and cheap to have been considered fashionable in the consumer-driven 80s.
The popularity of the parka did however, enjoy yet another revival in the 1990s, largely thanks to one man, Liam Gallagher, of indie band Oasis, who along with Blur, Pulp and The Verve epitomized the emerging Brit-pop scene, which would soon explode on both sides of the pond.
Fast forward to today, and the parka has firmly established itself in the hearts of hip-hoppers, indie-kids and skateboarders alike. Despite its somewhat humble beginnings, the parka has become an essential item of winter clothing within many an urban wardrobe, and has rightfully secured its place as an almost iconic symbol of youthful rebellion and ‘rock ‘n’ roll cool’.