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From Tundra to Brighton Front the Parka






     Fashion has a peculiar way of transforming clothing and making highly functional clothing into something that just goes well with a certain look. Quite often the original purpose usually protection against the elements, be they hot or cold is forgotten about as the style adapts to urban life. The ultimate expression of this change is probably the fascinator, which can trace its roots back to sunhats worn by workers in the field but now serves a purely decorative purpose. And next time you pull on your knee-high boots with stiletto heels, imagine what the Duke of Wellington would have made of them.

The parka has undergone just such a transformation, although it stopped short of being completely without function. Its ancestry is, as you would probably expect, from colder climes, but in this case it is about as cold as you can get the Arctic Circle. Here, where the ice never melts (well, not yet anyway) life is hard and gruelling, and the various peoples who inhabit it either keep warm or freeze to death. As mankind migrated northwards they no doubt noticed that the wildlife was gradually getting fluffier, and copied this basic survival technique by borrowing their skins. The word "anorak" comes from the Inuktitut dialect of northern Canada (as do kayak and igloo, not unsurprisingly). But the anoraks that they wore were not the same as the ones popularised by British train spotters that gave the word a whole new meaning. They were rugged, hardy items of clothing with hood and animal fur lining the inside. The closest equivalent in the UK will be recognised by anyone growing up in the 1970s as the snorkel. But they are, of course, poles apart when it comes to warmth.

The parka as we know it started life not in Canada but in Russia. The word parka is Russian for a pelt (animal skin) or a jacket made from it, in the same way as "a fur" can mean a fur coat. This was still a functional piece of clothing to keep the freezing Russian winters from the bones, and it would find great use in the military, hence the dull green colour that they popularly come in. The craze for wearing them probably made it over to 1960s Great Britain via military surplus stores, but soon they started being made over here as a fashion item and are inseparably linked with Mod movement.

As Mods were probably the most style-conscious of the various subcultures that have existed, opting for Italian designer wear and a narrow silhouette, the parka proved to be the perfect outerwear option, with all its paramilitary smartness sewn in. They were the perfect windcheater for those long, fast journeys on the Lambretta or Vespa, perhaps en route to the annual chess tournament on Brighton Pavilion against the rockers.

The most popular style was the fish tail parka, which came with two mystifying cords that tie the two sides of the slit together. This is the type true vintage clothing aficionados will go for as they sum up the look perfectly, especially if it comes emblazoned with The Who or The Kinks or the RAF roundel.

Vintage clothing represents different things to different people. The parka jacket or coat is one item that is found in various guises. Whether wanted for fashion, a style statement or just pure vintage fashion Craig helps to explain the history of the parka and other vintage items.

Vintage clothing represents different things to different people. The parka jacket or coat is an item that is found in various guises in stores like http://www.rokit.co.uk/ a well known vintage outlet. Whether wanted for fashion, a style statement or just pure vintage clothing is very popular today.




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Vintage clothing represents different things to different people. The parka jacket or coat is one item that is found in various guises. Whether wanted for fashion, a style statement or just pure vintage fashion Craig helps to explain the history of the parka and other vintage items.


Posted on 2012-09-08, By: *

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