The Parka –

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The Parka

by Adam Ward |

Rich in heritage, the iconic piece of outerwear has worked its way through generation after generation of youth culture, today still standing synonymous with its representation in 1960s Britain.

Originally born as a piece of outerwear to protect the Inuit natives of the Arctic regions, the parka was a robust and practical coat from the outset. The long-line parka and its fur hood made its way over to Western culture in the 1950s, as it was picked up by American soldiers during the inclement weather of the Korean war. It was a heavy-duty, reliable piece of kit, making it a necessity for all militarians.


Although both the fishtail parka and the snorkel parka were first designed for military use, 1960s Britain adopted the fishtail and turned it into a symbol of youth tribes and rebellion. The sage-green parka started to weave its way through the streets of England on Lambretta scooters and Vespas, consequently becoming mainstream among the Mod culture.


The fishtail parka was mass-produced by the army, making it easy for teenagers to purchase in local army shops in the UK. Already a practical piece of outerwear, it was large enough to cover their tailored suits and robust enough for their scooters rides in the brisk English winds. The parka was particularly popular with the youths because it was a customisable piece, with people adding patches, paintings, badges, union jackets and slogans.


A simple coat provided a sense of inclusivity and belonging for the working-class mods. The 1979 film: Quadrophenia, shed a light on the mods' affinity for the coat, and provided an insight into their innovative, youthful way of life. The tribe adopted a piece of military wear, turning it into an iconic symbol of working-class youth culture.

Towards the end of the century, the parka regained notoriety with the Mod revival and Britpop moving forward hand in hand. With the help of the likes of the Gallagher brothers, David Albarn and Richard Ashcroft, the parka made its way into today’s contemporary menswear. Today, high-street and ready-to-wear brands have adapted the classic parka shape and it’s now available in a variety of colours, fabrics and styles. 


At Phix we are proud of our mod influences, and believe that the parka is as popular now as it was with the US Army and the English youths. It's developed into a true British style icon and remains the epitome of all things Mod.