Would you believe me if I told you that it took me more than a decade before I had this iconic piece of outerwear? A fishtail parka was one of the jackets I wanted to have—ever since I got exposed to the mod subculture back in high school. It was only in late December of 2016 that I would manage to buy one, courtesy of Factorie at SM Fairview. This anorak (another name for the parka in the Inuit language) follows the pattern of the Model 1951, which was first used by the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War.
But you might ask: how did this parka, originally meant for soldiers deployed at the 38th parallel, make its way to London? Apparently, many turned up in the English capital’s army surplus shops. Mods then purchased it as a practical everyday jacket, cementing its status in the subculture.
They had good reasons to buy it. The fishtail parka’s thin lining effectively protected mods from the cold weather. The waterproof outer shell shielded them from dirt and mud while cruising on their Vespas and Lambrettas. Its oversized design, made to be worn over full battle gear, allowed it to be worn over entire bespoke suits. This kept the mods sharp, rain or shine. The “tail” attachment at the back could be tied around the legs during cold weather for additional defense against cold winds. It can also be secured with snaps at the inner lining to allow freedom of movement.
All in all, it’s a “war coat” in itself.
Some fishtail parkas of this kind come with a lining of either real or faux fur, stitched at the hood and cuffs. However, wearing a fur-lined jacket in a tropical country is impractical – unless you wish to sweat buckets. Factorie’s take on the Model 1951 fits the bill—from the olive green color, hood, and tail, minus the excess lining. To tell you the truth, I was not supposed to buy this one. H&M once carried a fishtail parka made after the later Model 1965 during the holiday season, sold at a discount. I was unable to purchase it right away, and someone had already bought it by the time I obtained the necessary funds. According to a mod enthusiast I asked, this one was too small for me as most parkas had a large sizing.
Just to be clear: I did not regret buying this parka. Simply looking at the pictures in this post shows that it goes well with various shirt and trouser combinations. To make it unique, I sewed some patches on both the left and right sleeves. I’ve read that mods would usually sew patches on their parkas in order to distinguish them from the rest. Only the sleeve patches are visible (the right sleeve is prominent, while the left one isn’t evident at first), but I also attached two patches on the front. A back patch, featuring the Royal Air Force roundel (mod target), is in the works.
My father and I almost have the same body type and height, so I usually get Dad’s old pieces when he finds it “too old” for him. This short sleeved button-down shirt from Arrow was already lined up for a donation drive, but I managed to salvage it. One can’t help but be reminded of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte with it, as checkered shirts are his signature.
A pair of jeans from Wrangler does the trick for the trousers. Dad is averse to wearing pants that are wide near the leg, so he had it tapered some years ago at the Wrangler Denim Bar near our place. In true mod fashion, I turned up the cuffs of my jeans – folding it twice to show my shoes.
The Montrose boot from Hush Puppies jives well with this outfit’s entirety. I’ve written in an entry from months ago that I usually wear it with blue jeans. Its military-style lace hooks, two-tone color, and pebble texture give a rugged impression. If you ask me though, I liked this boot because of its flat yet thick sole. Flat soles do well for both driving and walking, and this boot is fit for the job.
KEEP THE FAITH!
Fishtail parka: Factorie
Button-down shirt: Arrow
Tapered jeans: Wrangler
Montrose boot: Hush Puppies