The Parka Defined
Generally defined as a knee-length coat which will stand up to rigid temperatures thanks to its generous down filling and fur-lined hood, a water-resistant shell is often featured as an additional level of protection to keep out the rain, sleet or snow.
In the past, as far back as the 17th century, the word parka entered the English language referring to the animal skins worn by the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands which are strung out between Alaska and Russia, stepping stones between the world’s two largest continents: Asia and America. Out on the streets today, the Parka is the iconic winter garment, associated with the Woolrich brand for countless reasons.
History of the Parka
Back in the 1970’s, during the oil crisis, the U.S.A. decided to tap into the gigantic oilfield discovered off the northern coast of Alaska. The only way to gain easy access to those oil reserves was to build a pipeline to pump the oil 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez, southeast of Anchorage. 70,000 people worked to build that pipeline and specialized construction techniques were invented to overcome the natural obstacles and the harsh climate. Working between 70 and 84 hours per week, excellent benefits and wages, plus top quality food compensated for the tough conditions and month-long isolation which the workers had to accept. Only the very best equipment was reserved for those working on the pipeline. And that included clothing!
It was in 1972 that Woolrich introduced the Arctic Parka to clothe thousands of the workers living for months on end north of the Arctic Circle. Designed to withstand extreme conditions, this garment became the indispensable coat to protect from the wind, the rain, snow and average temperatures of 30°C below zero.
At very different latitudes, today’s requirements are not quite as critical, but the Arctic Parka enjoys a life of its own along the city sidewalks and out in the open air, whatever the season throws at you. Both men, women and kids around the world have warmed to this icon which appears to have all the qualities to resist changing times as well as changing weather conditions.
In nearly half a century, the Arctic Parka has undergone a number of changes to keep pace with shifting fashions. Alongside its unrivaled quality, its appeal lies in its subtle, yet accurate interpretation of contemporary taste. A garment whose primary purpose is functional – and in this aspect no one can deny its ability to accomplish that goal – also has to shape itself to a new context.
The Arctic Parka Today
Today’s Arctic Parka is made of 60/40 Ramar Cloth which is comprised 60% of double twisted cotton fiber and 40% of semi-dull, 70 denier Nylon. Water repellent and with a smooth Teflon® finish, it will stand up to tough conditions and last a lifetime. Every detail is given the same attention, from the YKK metal zip fastener to the detachable fur ruff which can be washed separately or simply left at home during mid-season use.
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