What is a parka? | Ultimate guide on choosing the right parka jacket

Ultimate Guide on a Very Special Jacket, the Parka

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Parka is a type of coat, a well-insulated one that defies strong winds and cold, and it always has a hood that’s (faux) fur-lined.

Parka coats are usually made from waterproof materials as people more and more choose them as their staple winter piece while the insulation can vary from more traditional materials like down or wool to modern engineered textiles like Primaloft insulation.

Parka coats design has changed through the decades, but the primary purpose od parkas haven't: Keeping people dry and warm.

Parka coats evolution: from seal skin to today

Parka was invented in the land of ice, the Caribou Inuits first made this type of jacket out of sealskin to help them survive in the harsh Arctic conditions.

The parka jacket evolved from that time. After the Second World War London’s tailors, such as Alfie Lever started making outerwear pieces for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Inspired by the designs of the former uniforms, the legendary parkas were made in England.

At the same time during the 1950s, the US army tailors developed the snorkel parka for flight crews that operated in icy areas on the Korean peninsula.

A decade after, the streets of Britain were full of people on Vespas wearing parka jackets. The mods chose the parka as a garment that best suits their style, and made it a desirable coat.

The mods made the parka an iconic coat, and from the 1960s it kept appearing and disappearing with trends and subcultures. Then came the 1990s where all styles and previously specifically defined subcultures began to mix.

From the early 1990ies to today, parka became a staple garment, a piece that can fit into anyone’s wardrobe, a coat that keeps one warm and dry.

In the last decade, a lot of manufacturers made the parka design very clean and straightforward and perfected the choice of materials. Unlike the original Inuits parkas, producers like us at Parka London don’t use anything of animal origin. All of the borg or fur you see are faux, and the down lining is replaced with Primaloft insulation, synthetic microfiber developed in the 1980s for the United States Army.

What is the difference between a jacket and a parka?

There are many types of jackets, as they are considered upper-body garments. But, the main difference between them would be that parkas are longer, as jackets usually end above the waist.

Parkas always cover the waist to trap more heat, as they are designed for cold weather. Parka coats look similar in design, but there are also differences between them.

The difference between parkas

The parka coat length

Shorter parka coats that are sometimes called parka jackets are considered the ones that end just below the waistline. Long parka coats are considered the ones that end below the knee.
Designers play with variations all of the time, but the classic parka coats are considered ones that end in the middle of the thigh, above the knee.
Where exactly, depends on the height of the person wearing the parka.

The fishtail parka/ straight rim parka

Parka coats also differ in the way they are cropped. The straight rim of a parka doesn’t make it any less original.

The fishtail parkas are characteristic as the original mod jackets were designed with them, but the real reason for a ripped rim is functionality.
The fishtail parka was introduced in the US Army. The famous “snorkel parka” was longer in length which was a movement obstacle for the soldiers. So they ripped the rim a bit. 

Parkas for every season

Parkas are one of the best choices for extreme cold, but this kind of coats can be worn all year round.

Some of the parka coats have a detachable lining so they can function as a warmer winter coat as well as a spring/summer/autumn one (depending on the temperature).

Choosing the right parka: the secret is in the details

Parkas are a classic choice. If the manufacturer follows basic guidelines about what makes a parka coat and adds a hood, the basic differences are minimal.

But, the true craftsmanship lines in the details. When you’re choosing a parka for yourself, choose wisely.

Take a close at the details, as we at Parka London do.

Classic men’s parka coats

Our CARNABY men’s parka coats, for example, have all the details a modern parka needs. The PrimaLoft insulated filling, adjustable cord at the hood that protects from the wind, adjustable storm cuffs and fleece-lined pockets.


The faux fur hood trim is detachable, so the parka can match your personal style better.

We tweaked the CARNABY parkas a bit and created the ESKIMO parka coat, for the ones that seek a shorter parka.

The CAMDEN parka coats line comes with the same features, but with a twist in the design - these are the fishtail parkas.

Classic women’s parka coats

The classic women’s winter parkas are our STORMONT jackets. These coats are dipped hem, and have all the features that keep you warm and dry:

  • - PrimaLoft insulation
  • - Adjustable draw cords at the waist and hood
  • - Ribbed storm cuffs

The SLOANE line has all the same features as the STORMONT one, but these parkas are a bit shorter, to the hip.


You also can’t go wrong with opting an ARIA parka coat, as this is a classic parka that goes well in all winter combinations.

If you’re looking for an all-year-round parka, CAVERSHAM and EWE are your choices. They all have the same features, with one important additional detail: their lining can be removed.

There’s one more detail that makes Parka London coats special, a ring behind the hood.

Now, you just need to find the right colour.




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