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Vintage Spotlight #72: 1950s US Army Parka

Posted on November 11 2011

Army parkas are one of this season's essential additions to your wardrobe and a key element in our own Goth-A-Billy look. Seen all over the A/W ’11 catwalks and in countless editorials since, the look here is one of street style grunge, with designers like Altuzrra and Peter Som taking inspiration from the pervading look of the '90s and combining the jackets with smarter pieces. While the parka's place in contemporary fashion is based on a 20-year-old trend, their original use in the army of course goes back several decades. This particular jacket is an M-1951, an evolution of its predecessors the M-1943 and M-1950 that was developed as a flexible extreme cold weather solution for US Soldiers during the Korean war. Later versions featured a split back, which gave rise not only to its nickname the Fishtail Parka, but to just about every parka design in fashion since, a phenomenon fuelled in no small part by the countless cultural references  made to its successor, the M-1965 (the most famous perhaps being Robert De Niro's performance in Taxi Driver). The real innovation though was in the jacket's detachable features, allowing soldiers to fully remove the lining as well as the hood, which could be worn over or under a helmet and attached to most pre-existing designs. This iconic jacket is fashion, history and practicality all rolled into one beautiful and appropriately efficient piece.

M-1951 Field Jacket | £70 | Available Online