Invasion of the green parkas

When I mentioned there was a decent(ish) parka in Asda I didn’t realise just how popular that type of coat is at the moment. Wigan is a veritable sea of parkas.
There isn’t a female under thirty that isn’t wearing one; be it a snorkel, fishtail or something inbetween. It’s a decent look for the girls – especially when teamed with a pair of cherry red docs – and to be fair it’s probably the second winter on the trot when Wigan turned green.
In the very late 60s and early 70s there was a good four or five years when the parka reigned supreme.
This time it was the boys who sported the regulation snorkel parka. Wigan market was awash and Wigan (and every other town and city in the country)’s youth lapped them up.
I loved my parka. I loved the fur(?)-lined hood, the orange lining the pockets (that – along with the hood – somebody would inevitably drop snowballs in) and the fact that it kept you relatively warm and dry.
In short it was a pissing-about-in type of coat and I only have great memories of my parka.
By the time that the snorkel parka had its big moment in the sun at Edgar Street, Hereford in early 1972 we were old enough to have moved on. We were now in crombie overcoats, a coat that to this day remains one of my favourite coats ever.
Of course the “crombie” overcoat we wore was a market-stall replica of the overcoat made by the great and good Crombie company but it didn’t matter.
In the same way the parka we wore was a replica of the US Air Force N-3B parka that was developed in the 1950s. We neither knew this nor cared.
There are a number of different parkas that have come through from various armed forces, that in turn were developed from coats worn in Caribou Inuit culture.
The fishtail parka that made its first appearance on the streets in the 60s – before reappearing with the mod revival of the late 70s – was first used by the US Army in the Korean War.
And now on the streets of Wigan it’s, “Like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder,” where it will end.
I suppose it’s better than all the quilted and International Barbour rip-offs that were doing the rounds on the girls’ backs these last few winters.
We can just hope that the lads at the footy start wearing some cheap snorkel versions. Teamed with battered suede shoes, lambswool knitwear, tweed, Tattersall checks and denim and cord.
Scruff look 1984 thirty years on.
Now, where’s the nearest C & A nowadays.


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