Some pieces of apparel are immediately easy to define. Ask someone what a t-shirt, sweatpants, or hoodie is, and they might find themselves tripped up because of how obvious the answer is. However, finding a precise definition may be a bit more difficult to provide when it comes to the anorak.
Daniel Patrick explains the garment’s history and defines what it is and what it isn’t.
Early History of Anorak
The anorak, also popularly known as the windbreaker, as a modern fashion item only emerged within the last 50 years. As a functional article of clothing, however, its history goes back centuries. Anoraks originated centuries ago as a piece of hard-wearing cold-weather clothing. They are largely descended from the Inuit parka, a name derived from annoraaq, a word for a specific type of outerwear.
One variation of these parkas involved using two animal skins stitched together, with the hair or fur facing inward. Because the fur of these animals allowed them to survive in freezing temperatures, the fur also had extensive use in clothing. This led to a garment with excellent heat retention properties, which was also easily waterproofed. While the earliest anoraks were not explicitly waterproof, due to the nature of many animal fibers, the introduction of waterproofing methods, later on, did wonders for the durability of these garments.
Later on, an increased Western interest in cold-weather exploration and winter sports made this garment more popular overall. Parkas first saw use in numerous explorations to both poles, and cultural exchange saw parkas and their cousin the anorak utilized in all sorts of cold-weather activities. Mass-production of these early items commercially was impossible due to the limited quantities of animals used to create them. However, advances in fabric science in the mid-20th century allowed these garments to be mass-produced in a way that improved their elemental resistances.
A New Material
The use of animal skin in regular apparel largely fell out of fashion in the 20th century, forcing an evolution in parka design. Fortunately, the Second World War saw the development of new synthetic materials that were perfectly suited to replacement. Ripstop nylon is a new fabric, originally used in parachutes, whose name belies its intense durability. Due to the latticed fabric woven fabric, small tears in the material do not spread elsewhere.
It stands to reason that a material developed for wartime purposes must be high-performing. Outside of fashion, ripstop is most often used in outdoor gear. This includes sails, tents, and flags. In other words, ripstop is used in equipment where technical failure would be hazardous. For that reason, it’s an ideal material for hard-wearing winter weather gear.
Modern anoraks are most commonly made from nylon, polyester, or one of the previous two blended with cotton. The synthetic fabrics are lightweight and easily waterproofed or treated for insulation. Even better, garments made from synthetic materials were lighter and, in some cases, more effective than their older counterparts.
Anorak vs. Parka: What’s the Difference?
Earlier, we stated that anoraks derive from the parka but that they are also somewhat nebulous to describe in their own right. The confusion between the anorak and the parka is that each has similar origins and also highly similar purposes. These garments are weatherproof, are highly suitable for cold weather, and were invented by the Caribou Inuit people.
The core differences come in the material of the garment, as well as some aesthetic differences. Firstly, an anorak is exclusively a pullover, while many parkas may have full-front openings. Parkas also typically feature large fur or faux-fur hoods, whereas anorak’s use unlined or smaller hoods. Anoraks also generally stop at the hip like a regular jacket would, whereas parkas may go further down the body much like an overcoat.
In other words, when looking at an anorak, it must be weatherproof, a pullover, be hip-length, and will likely have a little hood which, if lined, will not be done with fur. Otherwise, you are looking at a parka or some other garment.
Anorak As Fashion
The rise of anoraks as a fashion item is tightly linked to the increasing popularity of sporting events starting in the late 20th century. Except for the most extreme occasions, organizers rarely delay or cancel outdoor sports due to excessive cold. For this reason, spectators and athletes need apparel to keep themselves warm while still looking fashionable.
While fur garments provide warmth, the natural oil in them can make them breeding grounds for mold in wet-weather environments. For this reason, anoraks eschew fur for a synthetic lining that is often moisture-wicking. This has also made them supplant traditional raincoats in favor of a garment that, while giving all the former benefits, is far more wearable in daily life.
Why You Should Wear an Anorak
Firstly, an anorak is a wholly unisex garment. No matter who you are or your age group, a well-made anorak looks great because of its high versatility and classic silhouette.
Secondly, anoraks are practical. Many feature drawstrings or other cords to allow for a tailored appearance, whether you’re wearing one for fashion or to keep yourself protected from the elements. These weatherproof articles of clothing are also far more stylish than most pieces of rain gear, which are historically clunky garments exclusively used as outerwear.
Thirdly, they are comfortable. The modern prevalence of high-quality synthetic materials means that they can go toe-to-toe with the best of athleticwear when it comes to comfort. Plus, when anoraks feature cotton blends, the added softness of the fabric creates a jacket as pleasant to wear in calm weather as in inclement weather.
Daniel Patrick’s Anoraks
For decades, anoraks have been an essential piece of sportswear. For that reason, we had to produce our own entry into this highly stylish and undeniably practical piece of gear. These are garments formed with matching pants and made to fit entire lines of clothing. Below are a few of our anoraks, each distinct in their own particular way.
2019 Anorak Sport
The first piece on our list is the 2019 Anorak Sport, available in four different colorways to suit any winter fashion. Each is a lightweight pullover made from 100 percent polyester with a nylon mesh lining for heat retention. The general design of each anorak features one primary design color, contrasted by a colored front pocket cover that sports the Daniel Patrick name and sleeve outseam stripe. Also featured is a downward-pointing contrast stripe panel on each variation.
The Black + Coral + Ivory model uses a black base with a white stripe along the chest and contrasting coral accents. Meanwhile, the Black + Ivory version trades coral for stark ivory to create an almost entirely monochrome anorak. The two remaining versions both use different primary base colors to create a wholly contrasting appearance.
The Cobalt + Black + Ivory iteration of this piece uses a cobalt base and white chest stripe, the other accents on the piece being black for a wintry appearance. For incredible visibility, no matter what you’re doing outdoors, the bold visual language of the Citrus Lime + Black + Ivory Anorak has you covered. Here, black and white accents throughout the anorak give added contrast to this brightly colored piece.
Whichever model appeals most to you, every 2019 Anorak Sport is individually cut and assembled in LA to ensure specific attention is given to the design of each item.
The following piece is an instantly recognizable part of our classics collection, chosen both for its popularity and how it exemplifies the Daniel Patrick brand. This relaxed fit track jacket showcases the same front pocket and chest zipper as the 2019 Anorak sports, while other elements cement its distinctive status. The Classic Anorak has an adjustable bungee cord at the waist, allowing the jacket to fit however you’d like. In addition, thick white stripes on the outer portion of the Classic Anorak’s sleeves define an otherwise all-black silhouette.
The piece is made from fully lined polyester microfiber and fits true to size.
The piece also pairs perfectly with Daniel Patrick’s Classic Parachute Track Pant. Just like their counterpart, the track pant is made from and lined with polyester microfiber. Worn together, they create a sleekly cool monochrome silhouette that can be left as it is for a minimalist appearance. Alternatively, a single pop of color in an accessory can make an outsized impact due to the overall color simplicity of the suit.
DP Adidas Basketball Anorak
The last item on this list, the DP Adidas Basketball Anorak, serves as one of our latest in our long-running collaboration with Adidas. Immediately you’ll notice the bold, hazy yellow design of this anorak, whose color is continued in every item in this particular entry of our collaboration. Pure functionality meets fashion in this item, designed from the start to be an attention-grabber.
The signature three stripes of Adidas are tonally imprinted down the front center, with their logo visible on the back. Meanwhile, the Daniel Patrick name is visible through a rubber applique on the left chest of the piece. Front zip pockets keep your gear secure no matter how active you end up in this anorak.
The piece manages to be environmentally friendly while also intensely durable, being made primarily from recycled polyester with a small degree of woven ripstop to enhance survivability. Breathable mesh lining makes this an anorak that’s compatible with any weather. Also distinguishing the piece is a truly customizable silhouette, thanks to adjustable bungee cords on both the sleeves and hem.
We’ve saved one of the best for last with the M93 Anorak. As with all anoraks, this jacket is a pullover with different design materials depending on the specific model involved. Each version of the jacket showcases a velcro front flap with the Daniel Patrick name represented vertically in a 3m reflective print. Just below that, a front pocket with a hidden zipper provides hidden and highly secure storage.
All versions of the Anorak showcase similar colorings along the neck and outer sleeve. The highlights are all done in black in the Sea Foam + Black, Smog Grey + Black, and Dust + Black. Each of these models uses the main body that’s pure nylon, polyester lining, and trim in polyester polar fleece.
However, the two black models use the main body in polyester polar fleece, with polyester lining and nylon trim. The two models, Smog Grey and Sea Foam, refer to the color of the stripes running along the sleeves and neck.
To understand the fundamental difference between the two main types of the M93 Anorak, it’s necessary to know how polar fleece works. This material seeks to replicate one of the most challenging benefits of wool: Thermoregulation. In other words, high-quality wool can help warm you up or cool you down, depending on the specifics of your environment. Polar fleece offers better thermal properties, while the primary nylon offerings may work better when it comes to the anorak's nature as rain gear.
Each variation of this anorak is matched by a corresponding version of the M93 Cargo Pant. The choice is yours whether you’d like to wear your anorak on its own or as part of a uniform suit.
Closing Thoughts on Anoraks
Before, anoraks were difficult to define, but you likely knew one when you saw it. Now, it’s fully understood that these garments come from a rich cultural history. For their wide modern application, these jackets have insinuated themselves as a part of regular apparel for very good reason.
Whether you run out to get one to help shield yourself from coming storms or simply need more information about this misunderstood garment, we are happy to provide information spanning all generations of fashion history.