February 05, 2021 2 min read
Do you ever wonder where the styles we wear everyday originated?
Here at Marco Polo NY, we’re dedicated to creating modern twists on classic outerwear pieces. Two of the best examples of this are our Blair and Brigade Parkas, with their top-to-bottom fur lining and deep pockets. As we watched them appear in your wardrobes through social media and unboxing videos, we started to ask ourselves—where did parkas come from? What was their original use?
For the curious questioners out there and those who always ask “why,” we’ve compiled some of that research into our own short history of the parka!
The parka originated among the native peoples of Canada. This first style was a pullover made from caribou or sealskin with the fur side facing out and treated with fish oil to make it water resistant. Parkas offered warmth and protection while the wearers were hunting and kayaking—famously wet and cold activities in northern Canada.
The oversized shape was originally created as a way to carry a child against an adult’s body heat. Babies were also sometimes held in the hoods of original parkas. In many eastern arctic communities, this tradition has continued to the modern day.
As fashion grew into a larger industry in the twentieth century, parkas began to be crafted with synthetic materials that made them cheaper to produce and easier to ship to remote areas. In the 1940’s, fur-lined parkas were issued to service people by the military, particularly in the United States. The oversized pockets were used for storing food or ammunition. Overtime parkas became an essential part of survival in Canada and other cold climates.
The pullover shape was soon traded for a coat with an open front that either zipped or snapped. Designers and fashion manufacturers began to offer a wider array of styles and cuts as the parka grew more popular outside of Canada. The fishtail parka was developed in the 1950’s during the Korean War.
After the war in London, military-inspired parkas became very popular with the youth and mod subculture. The large shape of the coat protected their close-fitting suits from mud while riding Vespa scooters.
Today, parkas are offered in a huge variety of shapes, colors, and styles. We’re confident that our classic, fashion-forward Blair and Brigade Parkas will become integral parts of your winter wardrobe. When you post a photo, tag our Instagram at @mpnyfashion and use the hashtag #InMyMarco!
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