Mods and rockers. Scooters and Bank Holiday punch ups- this long green padded warm coat with a fur-lined hood was an iconic fashion statement, big with the Mods of the sixties. Although the parka coat will always be associated with the 60s, by the 70s the parka was back again, although it had probably never been away.
Parka coats have their origins in the Arctic and were invented by the Inuit people- whom we used to call the Eskimos. Long jackets with fur-lined hoods pulled tight around the face were ideal for the these freezing weather conditions. The word parka means animal skin.
Parkas were first adapted for use by the US military in the 1950s. These snorkel parkas were so called because when you pulled the hood tight you could only see the eyes of the wearer – so looked like a mask. The fishtail parka was bought in for the Korean War. It was longer at the back than the front so you could tie it round your legs. Both these types of parkas were available in army surplus stores and were cheap to buy.
Clothing manufacturers were quick to follow.
In the 70s, the fur lined snorkel style parka became extremely popular with schoolchildren. This coat with its bright orange lining, green exterior and fur lined hood was the most common school coat for boys in the US and extremely popular in Britain too. It fell out of favour a little – like anoraks the parka became a bit unfashionable.
However, the army surplus fishtail parka always remained in style. In the 1970s, the parka was back. The album Quadrophenia – a rock opera by The Who about the Mod years was released in 1973 and the later film in 1979 guaranteed that the fishtail parka was still firmly in place.
This warm coat was taken up by the punks too. Singer Fergal Sharkey with Northern Irish punk band the Undertones always wore a fish tail parka.