As any wannabe sartorialist or religious fashion follower knows, the fashion seasons work in advance – so when we have blue skies and sun aplenty outside, fashion designers have already set their sights on what wares they can create and peddle come the winter months. Recently, I have decided to imitate the fashion greats and launch a series of articles detailing the upcoming trends and themes for autumn/winter 2012.
However, fear not, these articles are designed to showcase upcoming trends with a spring/summer 2012 twist – so you can start getting involved ahead of the trend and become the forward-thinking fashion visionaries you really are. One of the most important (and necessary) items of clothing for any autumn/winter period is a good coat – and it seems one of the most popular outerwear pieces for the coming months is the parka jacket.
The parka is an interesting outerwear piece, as it has a rich and varied history in both practical and fashion circles. The parka was originally created and worn by Inuits and Eskimos for the purely practical reasons of protection from wind chill and wetness in the Arctic regions of the World. Interestingly, traditionally parkas were worn by females, as the Inuit parkas contained a built-in baby pouch for carrying infants along with the stereotypical fur-lined hood.
From their Inuit Eskimo roots, parkas really came to the forefront in a military context during 1950s when the US army adopted their own take on this outerwear garment – the N-3B ‘snorkel’ parka. This coat was typically created in a sage green silk-nylon material and featured a sturdy fur-lined hood which could be zipped right up leaving only a small ‘snorkel’ style opening. It was also the US military who helped formulate the other most popular take on the parka – the fishtail parka. Used by the US army to protect soldiers from the elements during the Korean War in the early 1950s, the fishtail parka was so-called due to its design, with the coat longer at the back than the front.
These parkas eventually began to increase in popularity and were copied and sold to the civilian market. The fur-lined parka became extremely popular with school children during the 1970s and 1980s due to the hardy, durable design and the easily recognizable faux fur-lined hood and bright orange lining. The parka fell out of favour slightly during the late 80s and early 90s due to connotations with trainspotters and associations with nerds, but regained popularity during the end of the 90s and early 00s when celebrities such as David Beckham and Liam Gallagher were seen sporting the outerwear.
Fast forward to today, and it seems as thought the popularity of the parka is set to continue, with high fashion designers jumping on the bandwagon and featuring their own individual takes during AW12 Fashion Weeks. Design houses such as Nicholas K and Viktor & Rolf prominently featured the parka jacket, but one of the most notable collections that featuring parka-inspired outerwear came from Calvin Klein.
This collection featured a grey/blue parka with a micro-flock print (only noticeable when looked at up close), alongside a puffa-style parka in calm, camel tones. Calvin Klein also featured oversized, over-the-head capes with wide hoods – again nodding to the parka influence.
One other collection worth mentioning was DSquared2′s, which featured several parkas. One of the central showpieces was an olive green parka with sleeves fully decorated in metal shards, and at the more wearable end of the collection a duffel-toggle parka in officer’s green. However, my personal favourite came in the form of an oversized fur-lined hooded parka, which was contrastingly paired with sleek, smart tailoring – a nod towards the Mods who stereotypically paired parkas with sharp suits:
In the fashion press, Shortlist Magazine has recently claimed that the iconic parka is making a comeback, with it featuring on Shortlist’s AW12 wishlist. The feature dedicated to parkas contained a wide variety of styles and colours – from traditional military-style parkas with fur-lined hoods to a bright orange canvas parka to a navy parka jacket with shearling lining.
Esquire magazine also recently featured a Berlutti oversized cashmere parka with mink lining in their Style section, and Esquire online recently stated that: ‘A man needs but 3 coats; a parka, an everyday one and a formal one.’
GQ online went one step further by claiming that the parka is ‘the most versatile outerwear piece you should own right now.’
GQ online also recently featured an article on ‘Reel Style: Quadrophenia Revisited’ – a film which immortalised the Mod subculture on celluloid and fully highlighted the impact the parka had on this subculture. The impact of Quadrophenia on men’s fashion was also brought to the forefront last year when Pretty Green, Liam Gallagher’s fashion label, recreated the parka from the Quadrophenia film.
The brand fabricated 100 limited edition parkas, which sold out of the Pretty Green Carnaby Street flagship store almost instantly. This is particularly relevant to the parka resurgence we are seeing take place today.
Looking to the high street, it is clear to see that parkas are already popular and prevalent amongst affordable brands. ASOS are currently featuring a range of parkas at affordable prices, from the traditional khaki fishtail versions to heavy duty down-filled styles with traditional fur-lined hoods. Urban Outfitters are offering a khaki camouflage print hooded parka, demonstrating that these jackets can also adhere to the current trend for print.
At the high fashion end of the spectrum, Mr Porter are selling a stylish Woolrich fur-lined hood parka in navy, military green and bright orange, and a tasteful navy J Crew parka with sophisticated leather detailing. You can also follow the animal print trend with an APC leopard print parka available at Selfridges, or if you prefer to be a bit more traditional, Oki-Ni are selling a Stone Island fishtail parka in classic black.
This autumn/winter, functional clothing has never been cooler – and it seems that the popularity of parkas is likely to continue in more lightweight fabrics moving into SS13 as well.
But what do you think out there? Are parkas the next big outerwear style, or should they remain in the past, confined to the trainspotters wardrobe?
As always, we want your input, so feel free to leave your comments and opinions.