Knowledge The iconic ‘fishtail parka’ was developed in the late 1940s as an ensemble of separate and detachable parts to provide flexible protection against changing weather conditions.
Officially named M-1951, the original fishtail parka was an oversized coat designed to fit on top of a military uniform and made to withstand temperatures below -10°C. The fishtail shape is due to a split in the back, with drawstrings on the bottom hem that could be tied around the legs for added insulation. The design was developed in the late 1940s as an ensemble of separate and detachable parts, to provide flexible protection against extreme and changing weather conditions. The most common version of the parka, the M-1951, consisted of a light, water-repellent shell layer made from a cotton-and-nylon blend, a button-in mohair liner and a fur-lined hood. The outer shell could be worn without the liner in milder temperatures. It featured a thin, permanently attached hood, two diagonal pockets and a covered zip. In the 1950s and 1960s, army and navy surplus clothing became popular among youth and sub-culture, and the fishtail parka came to symbolise the British Mod movement.