Ready when it’s ready

This time last year, you might remember, there were murmurings here and there about a parka — in development and progressing at great clip.

It had the novel idea, this parka, of a saddle shoulder — a thing of knitwear and since rehoused on the flight jacket — as well as an all-round umbrella flap, a tunnel hood, an inverted box-pleat back, and half a dozen other notable aspects. A lot going for it, all told. Four or five weeks of above-averagely laboured pattern-cutting and toiling and back and forth between drafts and dummy and … murmurings. That’s really all that’s left to show for it — besides a few prototypes, and the odd sample, none of which saw the light of day.

Truth be told, this parka — it just wasn’t good enough. It was clever in its way. Pleasing to wear, sure. Satisfying to use, certainly. It had an interesting cut, and some fine homages to some of the best bits of mid-20th century parka lore. But something, a mostly intangible something, a back-of-the-mind nigglesome something, was off. And so it went no further.

Four pieces of quickly cut cloth are the start of the new parka. Just the body, for now, a nearly invisible pocket, and one slightly hooked sleeve (the finished article will likely have as many as two of these).

Whisk forward 12 months, now, and what have we here? Why, it is parka, son of parka. The first half of those 12 months were spent on “what went wrong” reflection; the second half were more your “what about ifs”, subsequently compiled, shortlisted, and invested in a parka which will be all the things and do all the things its forefather wasn’t and didn’t.

This hasn’t happened before. Not quite like this. True, garments go through perpetual iteration: there isn’t one thing at the workshop hasn’t been honed assiduously over time — not every production cycle, perhaps, but not far off — in response to customer feedback and the like. And the recent popover, even, made two whole appearances in shops in Japan before it was deemed to have quite what it takes to make an appearance over here.

This parka, though: a different story. New shape, new construction, new idea — apart from the underlying “coat with a hood” part. Out goes the saddle shoulder and in comes what in this instance seems more robust: a half set-in and half-raglan shoulder. The inverted box-pleat at the back stays — seeming as it does a fitting foil for the classic parka fishtail. The new parka has a very wide wrap, an equally very high front, and twice as many pockets as its predecessor. And it will be ready only when it’s ready. Sometimes it seems you need to know what you don’t want before what you do makes itself be known.