What is Gorpcore, and is it Foreal?
Are Sneakerheads trading their Air Jordan's and OFF-WHITE for Patagonia fleeces and trail-runners?
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You’re walking down Bleecker Street in Soho and you blow past a millennial repping in head-to-toe, a Marmot windbreaker, a Topo Designs backpack, thick green camping socks, and a pair of Danner boots.
Maybe you thought, “they must be lost…”
You might be right. Maybe you shouted “hey buddy, mountains are thadda way!”
But maybe you’re wrong. They might be a Gorpie, an offspring of the Gorpcore family.
Here’s what you might’ve seen:
What I’m trying to say is that it’s not inconceivable to think that a camper is sitting at La Colombe Coffee on Lafayette Street in Soho on purpose.
If you’re still asking why someone is wearing a fit like that in NYC…
I can explain: Gorpcore.
Let’s talk about it:
What Gorpcore is + where it came from.
What makes something Gorpcore.
Its place in the culture.
Predicting just how mainstream outdoor-wear can go.
What is Gorpcore?
G.O.R.P: Remember the old acronym for trail mix, good old raisins and peanuts?
That’s where the GORP comes from. It’s just another name for trail mix.
GorpCORE: describing someone who wears a (trail) mix of technical, utilitarian, functional, outdoorsy-wear on the regular… you know, clothing traditionally reserved for trail runners. Hikers. Campers.
The irony in this case is that people you find wearing Gorpcore in cities likely aren’t often found trail running, hiking, or camping.
So, what gives?
Where did Gorpcore come from?
It’s been around for years, gaining steam in the late 2010s. Chen posits that Gorpcore represents a cultural style-shift away from minimalism (what’s known as Normcore—i.e. people wearing stone wash denim and a white tee).
So, it’s been around. But what does feel new is its emergence as a mainstream genre in mens (and womens) wear this decade.
What makes something Gorpcore?
Gorpcore (like its name) is ugly on purpose. It’s playfully normal. Painfully obstinate. Obscenely colorful. All at the same time.
That’s enough abstract language for today.
Carrying on. I love this line in Jason Chen’s piece for The Cut:
“Listen, if you dropped me somewhere upstate, I’d cry,” says Mordechai Rubinstein (a.k.a., Mister Mort), “but I love clothes that can transport me.
That’s what these clothes let me do — if they can withstand the actual outdoors, then I can wear them to go outside in Greenpoint.”
That’s the irony of Gorpcore. By being non-style, it is a fashion statement.
And that style is defined by its color, shape, layering, and function.
Consider this your guide to better understanding the wearers of good old raisins and peanuts…
Anatomy of the GORP.
C O L O R
Color is a key component here, and it’s often found in the outerwear and the socks. From fleeces and windbreakers, to soft-shell puffers, color is where you make it pop.
Feels like color has driven up the brand equity of some brands, too. Think about The North Face. You see a yellow puffer with black trim on top and mentally associate it with that brand, some random collab with Supreme, or to some extent you might even associate it with luxury (i.e. Travis Scott or A$AP Rocky).
Here are some examples:
And the same goes for socks.
S H A P E & L A Y E R S
Wonder Mountain Styling—a popular Japanese account on IG—is another marquee example of blending outdoor-wear with urban living. They represent more of an Asian influence/take on Gorpcore, drawing inspiration from well-known Japanese brand, Snow Peak.
Not gonna lie. My life goal is to dress half as good when I’m an old dude as this guy below (on the left).
These fits perfectly outline how gorpies typically shape and layer their clothing.
The trouser fit is always loose-to-baggy. That’s for comfort and ease. And whether it’s a soft crewneck with a fleece thrown over, or an over shirt with a windbreaker on the outside, the layering has volumes to it.
F U N C T I O N
Take the footwear. Brands like Adidas, Hoka, and Salomon are hallmarks for good technology, showing the versatility of the shoe, where Clearweather is trying to blend function and form, something that appeals to trail runners and sneakerheads. Brilliant.
Outdoor-wear for real Outsiders.
Yes, there are actual stores dedicated to Gorpcore-wear.
One of my favorite stores in the world is Outsiders, based in England. They’ve got shops in London and Liverpool.
Caveat: their customers are real outsiders.
You know, people who go camping and hiking. Make no mistake, though, they attract yuppies, too (like me).
Outsiders ethos and product blends all the characteristics of what defines Gorpcore: color, shape, layering, and function.
And they make it look so damn good.
I don’t know the first thing about pitching a tent, but I would 100% cop everything in store if I could.
Because I want the aesthetic without the commitment.
I want the fashion without the function.
Brand names are key.
With Gorpcore, brand logos are important too, just as they are with vintage wear like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, or Tommy Hilfiger. Again, this is opposite to the age of minimalism in clothing.
These are the hallmark brands of Gorpcore. It’s a mix of older brands with the new, which is amazing to see, because it speaks the brand’s ability to transcend trends and generations.
Each logo was founded in the 1900s (LL Bean being the oldest from 1912), and Cotapaxi being the youngest, launching in 2014 with a bit of seed funding.
In the wild.
From secondhand vintage (old-school patagonia) up to luxury (Balenciaga), all sorts of influencers, celebs, and internet voices are putting their spin on gorpcore.
What’s next for Gorpcore?
It’s not new, but it ain’t going anywhere either. Over the next decade we’ll see Gorpcore grow into a mainstream genre.
Here are 4 things I think can happen this decade:
1/ Brands will shift their collabs from being streetwear-focused to being outdoor brands + activities. Rowing Blazers did this with FILA over the holidays.
2/ High fashion will overdose its take on Gorpcore at runway shows (e.g. like what we saw with oversized hoodies and chunky sneakers). We’ve already seen this happen with brands like Balenciaga and Givenchy. More on the way.
3/ Brands will leverage Gorpcore to position their own brand as “sustainable.” Gucci made this move by partnering with The North Face.