‘Gorpcore’: How did the Outdoors Drastically Influence Fashion and Style in the 21st Century?
Written by Ali George Hinkins
Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts.
You don’t even need to be in the know to realise that the outdoors is the hottest topic in fashion right now, serving as an endless source of inspiration for brands and designers who look to the silhouettes and associated technologies to dig into and rehash. At some point during its rise in popularity, this evolving style and aesthetic commanded an appropriate name that could do it justice. Without further ado: Gorpcore.
What is Gorpcore? Well, besides being an acronym for ‘Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts’, it is an outdoor-oriented style that places a particular emphasis on utilitarian and functional design.
Typically, the uniform that is associated with Gorpcore centres around fleece, oversized silhouettes and technical outerwear, but, like any fashion trend, it has begun to fragment as individuals pick and choose the elements they wish to incorporate.
Before Gorpcore was Gorpcore, it wasn’t trendy to wear fleeces, shell jackets and wide trousers, at least not in my immediate circle. But, now that the floodgates have been opened for 5-plus years, its influence has spread and it now remains a focal point of inspiration for brands and designers across the clothing spectrum. But, despite its meteoric rise, the fascination with outdoor clothing and Gorpcore isn’t some newfound phenomenon.
Coined by The Cut in 2017, the foundations of Gorpcore can be traced back to the 90s and early 2000s when people were sporting The North Face Nuptse and Mountain Parkas off the slopes and on the streets. Operating on a different level, Prada was simultaneously dipping its toe into more technical design through its ‘Sport’ line which saw GORE-TEX jackets designed from a high-end perspective with luxury finishing and the silhouettes to match. With the foundations already laid by traditional outdoor brands like Patagonia and LL Bean, once elements of functional design began to creep into the mainstream by the aforementioned, it opened up the wider appropriation of outdoor clothing.
Arguably, the UK, in particular, the North of England, is cited to be the birthplace of Gorpcore style as a result of the country’s rich subcultural history and temperamental weather. For decades, the North of England has remained a hotbed for subcultures alike since ravers and hooligans began adopting their own individual uniforms that had elements of functionality woven into them. Despite not being directly associated with Gorpcore, technical sportswear brands like Nike and Asics were widely adopted and their designs and influence began to trickle down into the masses, subconsciously opening their eyes to elements of functionality and utility.
Some of the more traditional outdoor brands with plenty of heritage and a wealthy back catalogue of garments, such as Patagonia, LL Bean and The North Face, have made a resurgence in interest alongside their more function-focused counterparts like Goldwin, norbit and CAYL are putting a new spin on functional outdoor clothing. The aforementioned of these labels often derive inspiration from all aspects of outdoor life including mountaineering, fishing, climbing and more; seemingly, nothing is off the cards where these designers are concerned.
Supplying a wealth of brands that influence this style of clothing, This Thing of Ours carries the likes of norbit, Goldwin and Comfy Outdoor Garment which are nestled within this space and treading the line between form and function.
As Gorpcore evolves and continues to lean on heritage and modernity, it brings with it a more refined and streamlined product that strikes a balance between form and function; this is partly the result of advanced manufacturing methods, further fabric and material innovation and a change in consumer mindset. For the vast majority of us living in urban environments, we want the protection and performance synonymous with outdoor clothing but delivered in a more refined way, whether that be a lighter or more breathable garment.
As 2023 surfaces, Gorpcore is still hot on the agenda of brands, magazines, designers and agencies, it begs the question, what does the future hold for Gorpcore? Will we see people flocking back to the vintage designs that inspired the trend/aesthetic or will innovation prevail?
Personally, I think that as technical clothing evolves, we are going to continue seeing outdoor-inspired technologies repurposed for metropolitan use.