20 February 2012


The 'Snorkel parka', classic eh? I think so. Worn by all kinds from 70's school children in the playground to their teachers on field trips, to modern day indie kids, geeky anti heroes like Jason Schwartzman, Tim Roth's 'Colin' in Mike Leigh's Meantime, to adolescent nerd Adrian Mole himself, not to mention Kenny from South Park. Paraded by Feargal Sharkey on Top of the Pops, pre casual match going lads home and away and reclaimed during the heady days of Britpop by the likes of Damon Albarn and also an enduring fanbase within some sections of hip hop.
Massimo Osti was a fan too, just look at old Boneville boating jackets and earlier heavyweight Stone Island and CP Company pieces with the identical pocket placements and rabbit fur lined hoods. Stanley Kubrick directed films in them during location shoots. Paul Simon on his self titled album cover too. The choice of outerwear for striking miners during the bleak conditions of a long stint outdoors. Who can forget the hordes of young parka wearing Hereford pitch invaders during their FA Cup triumph over Newcastle in 1972?

I've always liked this jacket, maybe that goes back to schooldays and running around pretending to be superman with just the hood stuck on my head and the coat dangling behind me like some daft cape. I can remember having mittens attached to the sleeves during primary school too. I love the fact this coat is still seen today, it's as generic as it is a classic, from the new hipster nerds to old men still wearing their original ones, you can always spot them. It's that so uncool it's cool thing for me, more often than not in navy blue - though sometimes brown and green, the massive fixed furry hood and bright orange lining, pockets in the right places and just the right cut. I've ummed and ahhed about getting one for years, ten a penny in the vintage shops in town, still pretty cool but not really for me. Just before Christmas I took the plunge on one though, whilst it looks the same as those I just mentioned there is a difference. I got an old Woorich one, but we'll see more of that in my next post.
The Snorkel parka took it's more common nickname from the large hood which when zipped up fully resembles a tunnel for the wearer looking out, in the seventies cheaper variations became the popular choice for parents buying for their children to wear at school, a tough jacket which was as snug as a bug in a rug dominated the playgrounds for the next decade at least. During the late 80's the jacket lost it's popularity, becoming a subject of playground ridicule, the hip and trendy kids had moved on and only the school wallies still wore them. This led to the term 'anorak' being laregely given to this jacket as it become unfashionable, skip forward another decade and it's popularity grew again, anything that stays deliberately true to it's iconic original always gains a new following, so when 'slebs come out in their ironic cool coats the fashion mainstream picks up on it once again. That's the sign of a classic though, I guess.

Geek chic in Meantime (1984) and Ratcatcher (1999) (above) the choice of outerwear for the young nuisance.

Stanley Kubrick directs Barry Lyndon (1975) and Mike Leigh on location for Nuts in May the following year.

Anoraky in the UK! School kid style, above :school field trips, Adrian Mole and his pa teamed with a three star jumper in an unhappy Bradford some time in the seventies.

Above : Angry Kid, everyone's fave street artist Banksy in disguise and spot the geek with second wave skinheads and 'Corrie' alcoholic Peter Barlow some time in the eighties.

'Shake hands....' Yosser about to get to grips with shakehands in the Green Man pub in Boys From the Blackstuff.

Master at work, Massimo Osti in his Bologna studio with some military parkas on show.

The old school ones we used to wear would have been made by the likes of Lord Anthony, Brutus and Campri, or was it Campari? or was it both? Still made today by brands like Spiewak, Alpha Industries and Avirex, plus re-imagined by more contemporary labels like W)Taps, though similar this is not to be mistaken for the classic Mod parka, the M-51 fishtail parka which came around the same time of origin and again later with the second wave of mod and is still re-interpreted and worn today. This style originates from the United States Air Force USAF and was originally created in the 50's known as the N-3B to give it it's proper name, designed for flight crews who had to endure bitterly cold conditions whilst stationed out in baltic locations. Like the other flight jackets these also came in green. An original goverment specified jacket, this has been copied and reproduced by many brands of varying quality and status ever since, for a cold weather parka it remains a modern classic which has clearly stood the test of time.


  1. what a cracking post, some mega image sourcing going on. i have fond memories of mine at primary then hit again when i was about 16

  2. Cheers mate, there's a decent pic of a load of L'pool fans on a Euro away in the late 70's all in these, can't find it though.

  3. The Unkle - Rabbit in your headlights video features one too I think...

  4. I sat too near the fire with mine and it melted then went all cracked and rock hard

  5. When I was 7 I got knocked over crossing the road to school by a transit van...the ambulance driver told my dad that my snorkle parka padding had protected me....
    you could say:
    A Snorkle parka saved my life...

  6. haha i like parkas like in this shooting even more ^^

  7. Army Lion - we had an assembly at primary school about the dangers of 'snorkelling up' on the way to school after some kid got knocked over... any one seen with their snorkel up full would be off to see the headmaster!

    I had a brown one, a green and a navy blue.

  8. My favourite one is still the Alpha Industries N-3B: keeps me warm during the winter, don't need a scarf to protect my neck&throat, perfect during a storm, endless design and a own charm that makes me love it as it gets old.

  9. Fantastic post, I have a collection of about 50/60 original parkas, they are really hard to find these days, and from what I can see, no manufacture actually makes one that is a direct copy of the originals, they get close, but either add another feature or take something away.