Revelling in the dramatic aspects of coastal landscapes, Fiona Mills – brand director and co-founder of Parka London – took inspiration from the exceptional landscape of the Kent Coast for the autumn/winter designs of the house. Bringing Schön! to the source of its design, Parka London accompanied us on a coastal walk between the Kent capitals of Ramsgate and Margate, amidst chalky white cliffs and wind-beaten sea asters, to discover the very matter that shaped the collection. Incorporating heritage silhouettes and cold-weather combating features, the classic outerwear wonders take the protective, cocoon-like qualities of Margate’s coastline as a leitmotif for the collection. Originally from New Zealand, Mills gained expertise diverse areas of fashion before arriving at Parka London as director. As we meet in the safe harbour of Sands Hotel, Mills explains the intricacies of heritage outerwear.
Inspired by the Mods of ’60s Margate, the collection combines the parka’s classic formula of thick linings and big wind-breaking hoods but includes technical innovations which propel them into the contemporary. “I really respect the Mods and that heritage side of parkas,” says Mills, “but I wanted to give it a face lift to bring it into the modern world.” The parka gained prominence through the US military wear of the 1950s before it was adopted by British subcultures in the 1960s as a symbol of youth revolt and anti-establishment behaviour. Due to its wide availability from army surplus stores, the parka became cemented as the essential element of the Mod uniform. Through the iconic photographs of mods on scooters during the bank holiday riots of the ’60s, their inclusion on the album cover of The Who’s Quadrophenia and in its subsequent adoption by the Britpop movement, the parka has become crystallized in the history of pop culture.
In their clean, minimalist lines and muted hues, the Parka London pieces are right at home on a weather-worn coast. “It should be something you grab without thinking,” states Mills on the technical requirements of the Parka. “From the city to a hike, it should be able to function perfectly.” The new collection includes zip out liners, removable hoods and drawstring waists so that the coats can be diversified for any season, whether you are running for a bus or heading into the great wide open. The coats are made from dry wax fabrics which are light and water repellent.
Exemplifying Parka London‘s flexible ethos is the Alexia coat. Incorporating a versatile 3-in-1 style this parka includes a side sleeve zip, a snorkel and a detachable internal bomber jacket which can be worn alone on warmer days or used as extra insulation under the bulk of the rest of the coat. Made out of high quality materials and taking inspiration from an enduring military aesthetic, Parka London is moving against the flow of fast fashion. “We want to be a slow brand that people can trust,” relates Mills: “Parka London is timeless: a design classic that people will always love.”
Discover Parka London here.
Photography / Garçon Jon
Words / Patrick Clark & Annie Lord