Zips and toggles are us?

Style Counsel

`Anorak' used to be a derogatory term, but now it's acceptable not only to be called one but to actually wear one. In fact, the two go hand in hand, says Melanie Rickey

At the end of the Nineties a slew of books will attempt to define the style of the decade. Among the pages on underwear as outerwear, minimalism, and androgyny, Liam and Noel Gallagher should garner a mention. For along with their Britpop pals they have resurrected the humble anorak to a new levels of popularity. Ask a Mancunian about his Henri Lloyd anorak "with marine technology" and he will say "they're dead warm, and they keep out the rain", which course is true, but that's only half the story.

An anorak can now be officially classed as a boy's gadget. Liam Gallagher is rumoured to own more than 60, with Noel not far behind. They collect them in the same manner as other men collect football shirts, with a nerd- like interest in the tiniest colour, design or fabric change. The other day I overheard two men discussing their new anoraks over a pint. They chatted with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for mobile phones and fantasy football. "It's fantastic, it folds up into itself, and see these toggles..." said one of his hooded black parka, while the other took off the label buttoned to the arm of his Stone Island beige anorak: "People will recognise it because of the two buttons," he said.

Thanks to companies like Helly Hansen, Patagonia, North Face and Henri Lloyd the fashion anorak is thriving, and their gadgety merits have been transported onto fashion jackets. A Helly Hansen ski anorak, for example, has hand-warmer pockets, underarm airflow venting, heavy two-way zippers and what's called a three-panel super bio hood. Urban/function label Maharishi, on the other hand, sells its fashion anoraks for between pounds 200-300 and though they are more likely to be worn walking the dog, or to the pub, they have - like Helmut Lang's parkas at pounds 500 a throw - enough fixtures to excite a gadget nerd.

This winter Nautica, better known for yachting wear, has captured the imagination of the anorak brigade. The mod-inspired parka pictured was bought by Noel Gallager last week in Harvey Nichols, but if pounds 350 is too much for you, try M&S; their anoraks are pretty fab too.

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