Tracing a trend: Gorpcore
In June 2016, Miucca Prada, always ahead of the curve, showed a Spring/Summer 2017 menswear collection full of references to an outdoor lifestyle, including hiking attire, backpacks and water bottles hanging from utilitarian straps.
A few months later, Jason Chen of ‘The Cut’ coined the phrase ‘gorpcore,’ to describe a fashion style that fuses streetwear and sportswear with camping and hiking outfit components. The term ‘gorp’ is an acronym for ‘good ol’ raisins and peanuts,’ a phrase that refers to the trail mix snack enjoyed by hikers and nature enthusiasts. It’s a mash-up of functional outerwear, utilitarian garments and tech-wear. In the early days Gorpcore alluded to mostly functional staples.
Key items included puffer coats, jackets and vests of which The North Face’s ‘Nuptse’ jacket was the undisputed king; waterproof shells became a gorpcore staple and Arc’teryx’s Gore-tex shell jackets became very popular despite the hefty price tag of around 600 dollars; retro-looking fleece tops such as Patagonia’s classic retro-X fleece jacket and cargo pants like Arc’teryx’s new System_A Paltz pants all became best sellers.
In early 2019 singer-songwriter Frank Ocean made headlines when he paired a clementine colored jacket by mountaineering brand Mammut, with an Arc’teryx olive green patterned beanie, to sit front row at the Louis Vuitton menswear show. And just like that, gorpcore moved from the mountains to the heights of fashion.
The merging of classic outdoor brands with high-end labels has resulted in some notable collaborations.
In late 2020 Gucci announced that they had teamed up with The North Face to deliver a collection of ready-to-wear, footwear and luggage inspired by original North Face styles from the 70s. Several pieces feature a combined logo that blends North Face’s three curved lines and Gucci’s green and red web stripe. A year later marked the delivery of a second season. As a nod to both brands’ environmental efforts, the line is using Econyl, a trademarked nylon fabric made from regenerated materials like fishing nets. In addition, all of the down insulation that is used in the second go-round meets certification for the Responsible Down Standard by Control Union.
Late in 2021, Jil Sander, known for its minimalist approach to high fashion, teamed up with Vancouver’s Arc’teryx. Arc’teryx is a brand equally loved by outdoorsy types and celebrities like Drake and Travis Scott. The late Virgil Abloh was also known to be a fan.
So Gorpcore, having been around now for at least 7 years isn’t a new trend but recent circumstances have determined that it could well be an enduring one.
The Pandemic has meant the need to spend more and more time outside, even in the depths of winter. From walking, jogging or cycling, to get some exercise and a breath of fresh air, to lining up on the street waiting for a COVID test, to dining at an outdoor restaurant as a way of safely meeting with friends. According to Nylon Magazine, “with this rise, gorpcore’s aesthetic has evolved, and the outdoor industry, as well as new brands, are responding with a more inclusive and fashion-forward approach.”