What is "Parka" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 02-Oct-2023 ( ago)
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Parka in Textiles: Tracing the Arctic's Gift to Global Fashion

Parka, a type of coat widely recognized for its warmth, durability, and protection against harsh weather, has woven its legacy into the world of textiles. Born in the ice-clad regions of the Arctic and nurtured by the rich indigenous cultures, the Parka has transformed from a survival gear to a fashion staple, embedding itself in our modern wardrobe.

History and Origin

The term "Parka" comes from the Nenets language, spoken by the indigenous people of Russia's Arctic region. Initially, Parkas were made from sealskin or caribou and were primarily worn by Inuit and other Arctic peoples to protect them from the extreme cold and wind. This ingenious garment, often coated with fish oil for waterproofing, not only insulated the body but also had a functional design, with a large hood to accommodate fur ruffs and provide maximum protection.

Types of Parkas

As Parka transitioned into the fashion world, numerous styles emerged to cater to different needs and aesthetics:

  • Anorak: Originating from the Greenland Inuit, the Anorak is a pullover Parka traditionally made from caribou or seal skin. Modern versions often feature a front zipper, and it's known for its drawstring at the waist and cuffs to seal in warmth.
  • Fishtail Parka: Developed by the U.S. military in the 1950s for soldiers stationed in extremely cold climates, it features a unique fishtail design at the back, which could be tied around the legs for extra insulation.
  • Duffle Parka: A mix between a Parka and a duffle coat, it's typically made of wool or faux fur and has toggle fastenings and a hood.
  • Expedition Parka: Also known as a "puffer parka," this style is built for extreme weather conditions, featuring quilted insulation, a longer length, and a generous hood.

Tips for Handling Parkas

As with any garment, Parkas require proper care to maintain their functionality and appearance:

  • Cleaning: Always check the label before washing a Parka. Some Parkas are machine washable, while others require professional cleaning. Avoid using a dryer as extreme heat can damage the insulation.
  • Storage: Store your Parka in a cool, dry place during off-seasons. It's preferable to hang it rather than fold it to maintain its shape.
  • Repairs: If your Parka gets torn, it's best to get it repaired professionally, especially if it's a down-filled Parka, as incorrect stitching can lead to insulation loss.

Profiles of Major International Manufacturers or Users

The practicality and versatility of the Parka have made it a popular garment among various brands:

  • Canada Goose: A Canadian brand that's practically synonymous with Parkas. Their high-quality, down-filled Parkas are designed for extreme cold and are favored by explorers, scientists, and even film crews working in Arctic conditions.
  • The North Face: Known worldwide for its outdoor gear, The North Face offers a variety of Parkas. Their ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate Parka is especially popular due to its three-in-one versatility.
  • Columbia: Columbia is renowned for its quality outdoor apparel, and its Parkas are no exception. They offer a range of Parkas, including the popular Women's Peak Park Insulated Winter Jacket.
  • Moncler: An Italian brand, Moncler was originally founded in France. Their luxury Parkas, known for their distinctive quilted style, have become a status symbol in winter fashion.
  • Patagonia: A socially conscious brand, Patagonia is known for its sustainable practices. Their Parkas are not only warm and durable but also made with recycled materials, reflecting the brand's commitment to environmental responsibility.

Applications of Parka

The Parka's design ensures it has multiple applications:

  • Outdoor Activities: Due to its warm and protective nature, a Parka is ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and skiing.
  • Military Use: Parkas have been widely used in various military forces for their personnel stationed in cold regions.
  • Everyday Use: With various styles available, Parkas are often used as everyday winter coats.
  • Expeditions: For explorers braving extreme weather conditions, a Parka is a necessary piece of gear.

From an Arctic essential to a global fashion staple, the Parka's journey is testament to the intriguing ways in which textiles adapt and evolve. It symbolizes not only our innate need for protection but also our desire for style and our capacity for innovation.

Traditionally a hooded fur coat made and used by northern natives, but now it can also be insulated with modern manmade materials like "thinsulate", and may have no fur at all, although usually winter parkas will have a fur ruff. Summer parkas of the more traditional styles have a skirt attached and are pulled on over the head.
This loose-fitting, hip-length jacket, usually hooded, often comes with a fleece or pile lining. It was worn originally by Eskimos and introduced to the public during the 1930s for winter sportswear.

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