It all began with one man and his RAF uniform

In 1948, Alfie Lever, a tailor’s son from the East End of London returns home from the RAF in search of a new adventure. Inspired by the utilitarian designs of his former RAF uniform, Alfie sets out to conquer the outerwear world.

(Top Image) Alfie Lever- the man who started it all.
The original parka that Alfie made for the RAF in 1953.

Elsewhere the military begin experimenting with parkas and the EX-48 (prototype) and M48 (M for Military) are both born, based loosely on the US’s N-3B. The M51 and M65 would later follow.

Alfie Lever’s Spitalfields factory


52 Commercial Road, E1

In the heart of London’s East End, Alfie opens his first factory at 52 Commercial Road, E1 known as ‘Alfred Lever & Co.’ in 1953.

Known then as a Mantle Manufacturer, a term for loose-fitting outerwear garments, the company wins contracts to produce outerwear for the RAF including the legendary parka.


Supply and Demand

Quadrophenia-mania takes over the UK and thanks to its on-screen styling of parkas, the coat quickly gets adopted by Mods.

Not content with sitting on his military laurels, Alfie takes on the fashion world. Supplying some of London’s most fashionable boutiques of the time, including John Stephens on Carnaby Street and Village Gate in Soho, with his RAF inspired outerwear.

(Top left / bottom right images) Sting in Quadrophenia, with extras
wearing Parkas (Top right / bottom left) Carnaby Street 1968

Alfie Lever's son Stephen joins the factory 1971


Learning the ropes

Growing up in the factories, Alfie’s son, Stephen takes an interest in his father’s world. From sitting with Nelly, the button lady, to later delivering orders to customers, he learns the skills of the trade. Working closely alongside his father for the next decade, the future is bright for the Lever family business.


Realising Dreams

Stepping fully into his father’s shoes, Stephen Lever takes the reins. Using his expert knowledge and experience he skilfully guides the business through a landmark period of its history. The company is rebranded as The Harvest Group in 1981.

The iconic ‘Member’s Only’ jacket is designed in 1981 which quickly becomes a bestseller for the business.

The iconic 'Members Only jacket' designed in 1981


Parkas for All

During this decade the company grows to be one of the major players in British outerwear, working with nearly all the major high street brands at some point.

Unknowingly, the chance is high that you will have already worn a piece of outerwear that we have designed and made.

Parkas are well and truly put on the map thanks to the Britpop movement that spans art and culture. The Gallagher brothers, Blur and bands of the Mod Revival re-popularize the coat and see the style become intrinsic to their look.


A New Decade,
perfecting the Parka

With 60 years of manufacturing heritage behind us, it is time to step into the limelight with our own label. Parka London is a tribute to Alfie Lever’s original vision and legacy. The brand is a celebration of iconic, timeless, military designs fused with contemporary styling and cutting-edge fabrics. Our mission is simple, we aim to make the best parka available today.

Our iconic 'P-53 parka coat' designed in 1966 by Alfie Lever


Parka Online

Parka welcomes Alfie’s grandson Josh Lever, who focuses on the digital consumer and future proofing the brand for the savvy online shopper.

2018 sees Parka launch its Made in England collection in collaboration with Shoreditch based brand Mr Start. The three-piece strong range is based around the peacoat, the bridge coat and the London mac.

In 2019 Parka launches its Black Label collection, which is proudly made in England, and echoes the founding principles upon which Alfie Levers started the business. The pieces are crafted in a factory in London, further continuing the brand’s association with the East End and its British manufacturing heritage.


Saluting the past,
Looking Ahead

In celebration of our military roots, we move our illustrious medal eyelet to the left sleeve of each Parka coat. We are immensely proud of Alfie’s RAF connections of which the eyelet represents.