FASHION FEATURES

Gorpcore: How technical outerwear became the hottest trend of the moment

Olivia Petter takes a closer look at the unlikely fashion trend that has been slowly building over the past year

“Gorpcore” is a term you might not have heard before, but you’ll certainly recognise it when you see it; you just might not have ever perceived it as fashionable. In fact, you almost certainly won’t have.

Waterproof bucket hat? Gorpcore. North Face puffer jacket? Warm, but also Gorpcore. Patagonia fleece? Nope, not Zuckerberg: Gorpcore.

That’s right, Gorpcore is all about the outdoors. To the uninitiated, this might sound odd. But fashion loves a utilitarian aesthetic, and this season, it’s one that will have you primed to climb Snowdon.

Despite slowly making its way up fashion’s trend ladder towards the tail end of last year, Gorpcore is officially one of the hottest looks for 2022, with global fashion shopping platform, Lyst, cementing its status in its latest quarterly index.

Using data from more than 160 million shoppers, including shopping behaviour, social media mentions and online searches, Lyst calculated the 10 most popular items of the quarter, and many of them tap into the Gorpcore trend.

There’s the Prada Re-Nylon bucket hat, which ranked second in the list for women’s items, The Frankie Shop’s quilted jacket (third) and the blue and brown crochet balaclavas from Miu Miu (ninth). Even a pair of padded nylon slip-on shoes from Prada made it onto the list in fifth place.

Each quarter, Lyst ranks the most popular shopping items by using data on more than 160 shoppers.

There were many Gorpcore items on the men’s list, too, including the Prada Re-Nylon puffer jacket (third place), Moncler Cuvellier short down jacket (fourth), and the bright orange Arc’Teryx’s Alpha SV jacket (seventh place).

“The pandemic has fundamentally shifted consumers’ expectations; in uncertain times, movement and functionality have become key purchasing criteria for many fashion lovers,” says Camilla Clarkson, communications director at Lyst.

As is often the case for fashion trends of today, the uprising of Gorpcore has been largely fuelled by celebrities and social media.

Think Frank Ocean wearing a bright orange puffer jacket from Mammut in Paris, or Dua Lipa reclining in a cobalt blue version of the Yeezy Gap Round Jacket that sold out in minutes when it was released at the end of last year.

With its waterproof exterior and its heavyweight build, the buttonless puffer jacket was peak Gorpcore.

Elsewhere, there’s Bella Hadid and her extensive puffer jacket collection, and fellow model Hailey Bieber who coined the “sexy fleece” look when she posed in her MM6 Maison Margiela x TNF Circle Denali top.

We’ve also seen A$AP Rocky sporting numerous Gorpcore looks in recent months, including an unusually large puffer blanket that he wrapped around himself while performing in New York.

Despite its current appeal, Gorpcore has been around for a while.

In fact, the phrase itself was coined in 2017 by The Cut (the acronym “gorp” is often used among hikers to mean “good old raisins and peanut”, a classic trail mix), who declared it “rather defiantly ugly” before comparing the items to something you’d buy before a camping trip.

Hence why the key brands associated with Gorpcore are mostly outdoor labels, like Teva, Columbia, and Birkenstock.

However, high-fashion brands cottoned on to the Gorpcore trend some time ago. Cue several unlikely collaborations, like the immensely popular one between The North Face and Gucci, or COMME des GARÇONS and Boris Bidjan Saberi.

As for why this look is trending now, Lyst believes it has everything to do with our underlying mood as we move through the pandemic and adapt to a life with coronavirus.

“As Covid becomes a regular part of life – along with fears of a recession, geopolitical uncertainty, and the threat of climate change – we can understand why shoppers want to reflect an image of survival,” says Clarkson.

“It’s clear that pieces described as ‘Gorpcore’ or ‘technical’ have been resonating with consumers, a good indication that practicality is here to stay as the world embraces the new ‘normal’”.

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