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Function is fashion: why ‘Gorpcore’ is here to stay

Words: Charlie Lake

Gorpcore is here to stay.

The consumer’s obsession with functionality and utility has gone beyond fashion. A trend coined in 2017 by The Cut, ‘Gorpcore’ characterizes utilitarian, functional, outdoors-inspired gear. ‘Gorp’ serves as an unusual abbreviation for ‘Good ol’ raisins and peanut’ (or as it is better known, trail mix - the preferred snack of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts). The trend was catalysed by the pandemic, with buyers wanting to express their lifestyle and interests through the clothing – think back to when going on walks with friends and family was the highlight of your day (or dare I say week) during the lockdowns triggered by COVID-19. Now that we are back into our normal routines, has the trend died? In fact, much the opposite; the trend has blossomed as the wearer now has even more opportunity to flaunt their sleek Gore-Tex garments. On the commute to work? Gorp. Shopping for groceries? Gorp. Running errands? get the idea.

The North Face Gorpcore

The North Face is a staple of the Gorpcore trend

Photo: NSS Magazine

Unlike most nonsensical fashion trends, gorpcore has been a force for good. Buying well and consciously leaves fast fashion and micro-trends behind, producing a new consumer connected to nature and outdoor adventure through brand ethos. The Vancouver-based brand that has become almost synonymous with the gorp trend, Arc’teryx, has a mission statement which stands for “Reducing the effects of weather, streamlining use, and moving efficiently” and “creating a timeless, outdoor experience”. Similarly, The North Face epitomises gorpcore too; prima facie, their brand slogan, “Never Stop Exploring”, signals practicality and playfulness. For years, the brand has produced some of the best quality skiing, hiking and generally warm, waterproof garments and has since become a mainstay of the current gorp gossip.

Frank Ocean Gorpcore

Frank Ocean sporting Gorpcore at Paris Fashion Week

Photo: Wall Street Journal

The number of new and existing brands tailoring to ‘camping-chic’ is endless: Gramicci, Beams, Carhartt, RAINS, New Balance, And Wander...the list goes on. Even on the runways, gorpcore has been creeping in at every opportunity with Prada, Celine, Louis Vuitton, JW Anderson and 1017 Alyx 9SM all making mountain-worthy outerwear chic for the slopes or the streets. Even the Gucci x The North Face collaboration last year, whilst feeling tasteless and very uninspired, was still a sign of the times. Gorp wear is typically rather colourful; think bright blue, purple, orange, green, red, and pink - the usual colours of traditional camping and hiking gear. The colours used harken back to the appearance of the things that mesmerise us most throughout nature; the greenish-blue waters, rich and dark green forestry, vivid pink sunsets, and bright rainbow florals.

In footwear, Salomon takes the lead. Multiple high-end collaborations with brands such as COMME des GARÇONS, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Maison Margiela and And Wander are a testament to the brand’s flagship status. The Salomon XT-6, XT-4, XT-2 Wings, and ACS Pro Advanced shoe models have been incredibly hyped recently, with new colour ways releasing and selling out almost immediately. The shoes’ thick treads and cushioned soles make walking a breeze, even on long strolls through the big city, whilst still boasting a rather à la mode, sneaker-like appeal. Other frontrunners on the functional footwear front are New Balance, with their 2002R ‘Hiking Boot Pack’, Ronning’s ‘Type 0-2 Hiking Boot’ and Fugazi’s ‘Bootstraps’ shoes.

Salomon Comme de Garcons Collaboration

Salomon x COMME des Garçons Collaboration

Photo: Joan Shepp

Without sounding dramatic, Gorpcore is not a singular trend. It is more of a movement, inspiring healthy buying, healthy living and a healthy planet. In such a mercurial fashion world full of micro-trends, it was initially unclear whether gorpcore would gradually be phased out of the slurry of ‘fit pics we see across social media and out on the streets. Yet here we are, nearly four years on from when Frank Ocean stepped out at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris wearing a bright orange Mammut puffer jacket paired with a subtle Arc’teryx beanie in 2019, thereby bringing gorpcore to the mainstream, and five or so years on from the very first rumbles of gorpcore; yet the ‘trend’ is far from its end. Function has become synonymous with fashion, creating an ultra-utilitarian look that serves the interests of many.

So, let me repeat: Gorpcore is here to stay.


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