In truth, it’s an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts” or you know, trail mix. The trend gets its fashion inspo from a recreational lifestyle and the items that go with activities such as forest bathing, hitting up Runyon Canyon, and camping (or glamping) depending on how you like to enjoy the great outdoors.
Seriously, there’s never been a better time to dress like a badass woman about to hit the trails—even if your only form of exercise is walking to work or taking the stairs. So many designers are dying to dress you for said purposes, from fashion houses like Balenciaga, Acne Studios, and Alexander Wang, to boutique labels like Veja and Outdoor Voices, to mainstream retailers like Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Converse. All of them seem to be reading the same sartorial tea leaves—and they’re saying it’s time to take a hike.
In a lot of ways, gorpcore is a breath of fresh air for a fashion industry that’s been slowly loosening up. “The rise of athleisure and normcore has put comfort at the forefront,” says Hayley Johnson, senior designer at Camp Collection.”Gorpcore takes both of those movements to the next level by adding more cold-weather functionality.” It’s essentially the intersection between the utilitarian aspect of workwear, the performance aspect of activewear, and the defiant ugly-cuteness of normcore.
By my own calculations, it first started when Birkenstocks became acceptable shoes both socially and professionally. This was followed by the return of Princess Diana-favored bike shorts, then anorak jackets, windbreakers, hiking boots, and fleece pullovers. After that came the collective embracing of “ugly” sneakers that have evolved from chunky dad shoes to trail hybrids like these high-top pairs from the Scandinavian label Ganni and the sportswear staple Hoka, which OV featured in its fall/winter ’18 campaign. Oh, and don’t forget that very warm domination of puffer coats as a winter jacket style of choice for a growing number of people.
Johnson says that the gorpcore trend really evolved from “outdoor companies like Teva, North Face, and Patagonia bridging the gap between fashion and function. They’ve added more contemporary colors and updated some of their classic styles to appeal to a wider, more fashion-forward audience.”
The key to making your outfit look like gorpcore and not like you’re going on your first outward bound experience is to mix in pieces that are not so granola. “A balance of utilitarian items with stylish pieces will achieve the look without making it seem literal,” Johnson explains. “An easy way to try the trend is to add gorpcore accessories to a regular outfit, like a wide brim fishing hat or hiking boots.”
If you decide to pull out a Helly Hansen fleece to pair with leggings, for example, you can go with a classic Sorel hiking boot and some statement jewelry to keep things from straying too far into Cheryl Strayed territory. Plus, having all of this hiking wear lying around could be the encouragement you need to finally become an outdoorswoman—not just dress like one.
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