Fishtail Parka, from war coat
to fashion icon...
Copyright 2006 fishtailparkas.com
fishtail parka started life in
service to the US army in 1951
to help the American soldiers
cope with the freezing conditions
in the Korean War.
It was known as the M1951
parka and those wanting the
full history on this please see
Fishtail Parka, history of the
vintage M51 parka.
However, in 1960’s Britain
Parka took on a whole new
life and came to represent an
entire era, a lifestyle and a
statement of intent.
You were a Mod !!
1963 the mods were here,
they had their own style, their own
dress codes, their own transport and
indeed their own language.
a fashion culture that changed on
a weekly basis forcing mods to work
overtime to keep up with the changes,
everything from colour to length of
jacket side vents, to width of trouser
bottoms and style of shoes only one
item of clothing managed to stay a
constant throughout the life of Mod.
was the Fishtail
Parka (US Army only).
truth is that exactly how this came
about no one really knows, it’s
as much a mystery and it is a phenomena.
The influencing factors can readily
be drawn, fishtail
parkas were cheap, warm, relatively
water proof and great for riding scooters
in a pre-helmet era as one could tie
the fur hood right up around your
face. Plus, no one else was wearing
them on the street and that was important
to the mods.
no one really knows who started it
and how it caught on so quickly. It’s
not like anyone can say oh that was
Dave, he got one in Whitechapel for
a bob and we all thought; “fuck
it!…. let’s all get one”.
Therefore, one is left thinking, why
not any other warm coat of that time…why
that parka and why ONLY that particular
we all know mods wore other jackets
and coats but only one coat kept its
place as the first choice for scooter
riding and only one coat became the
most prolific symbol of Mod and that
was the Fishtail
me, it is not hard to imagine the
early 60’s and a small group
of early mods, or maybe even “Coffee
Bar Cats” seeking out a warm
coat and stumbling across a US Army
M1951 Fishtail Parka in the local
Army Stores. And seeing the price,
seeing the quality, seeing the benefits
of warmth, head protection and durability,
and the fact that no one was wearing
them, made the choice that this was
the coat to wear.
rode back into town adorned in their
new gear, espousing the benefits of
being warm and dry, the next day 4
more mods went back to that same army
store and got themselves kitted out.
Within a week, you a one gang of 12
mods all riding around wearing the
same processes took place as they
chatted with the mod gang in the next
block, and Mr Army Stores was having
a good month with lots of new visitors.
These early mods, being the trendsetters
and likely to be looked up to by new
and aspiring mods, were soon copied.
By 1964 Mod was in full swing and
thousands of mods were now springing
up all over London and all needed
to complete their uniform.
by 1965, Mr Army Stores had retired
to a small condo in St Lucia and every
mod in London had a M1951 Fishtail
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