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STYLE AND CULTURE
CULT ITEM: THE PARKA
By Justine Fedorowycz, 19 November 2018
An outerwear staple since before even we can remember, the parka undoubtedly deserves a place in the sartorial hall of fame. Part coat, part jacket, it’s always had its own thing going on, and while it has had its fair share of updates over the years, the basic shape of the parka remains the same: a big hood, roomy pockets and that all-important cosy lining for achieving sleeping-bag levels of warmth. Keep reading to find out more about how it came to be a regular fixture in your Saved Items.
The outdoorsy type
Living in the barren tundra of Nunavut – Canada’s most northerly and remote region – the Caribou Inuit are credited with creating the basic template for the original parka, and, by default, its reputation as a solid winter coat. Since then, the humble but sturdy outer layer has been adopted and adapted by everyone from Arctic explorers to hip-hop icons and indie kids. After finding its place in the 20th century and becoming popular with mountaineers like Eric Shipton (above) and US military personnel stationed in extremely cold areas, the N-3B (a snug ‘snorkel jacket’ with a fur-lined hood) and the M-51 (a lightweight and longline ‘fishtail parka’) both passed into everyday use.
Having made its way through Canada and the US, the parka’s next notable appearance was in the UK during the early 60s, when it became a symbol of the mod subculture. Resold in army surplus stores, the longline fishtail parka was viewed as a cheap and practical jacket, ideal for protecting clothes from scooter grease and dirt.
The 90s introduced us to plenty of power couples (Britney and Justin, Brad and Jen), but one couple has truly stood the test of time: Liam Gallagher and the parka. Favouring an iconic olive green version back then with pockets big enough to stash a tambourine in, the Oasis frontman was so fond of his, he often performed with it zipped all the way up to his chin. And while he may have officially claimed the parka as his signature style, it hasn’t stopped us (or this guy) from putting our own spin on it.
Wear your greens
Edging closer to the present day now, this is a shape and colour you're probably pretty familiar with. We’ve all thrown on this shade before – because when you think of the classic parka, it's impossible not to think of khaki. The army green hue aside, you’ve also got all those mod-cons that are synonymous with its DNA. Whether it’s a bungee cord or drawstring, one of the great things about the parka is that you can adjust the hood, waist or hem (or sometimes all three) for a customised fit. Take inspiration from this fella and keep things slack for a slouchy, oversized silhouette.
Pad it out
Fast forward to today and we're looking at this Gen-Z yellow padded parka (the parka’s bulkier cousin), which, as well as putting a millennial twist on the classic shape, is designed to help keep you warm without weighing you down. Take your cues from this street-styler and opt for a double-layered design for added protection from the elements, and a more understated take on the Michelin Man aesthetic. And if the sun does come out? Simply remove the quilted lining and you’re good to go.