It's taking over on and off the trails.
If you’re an avid hiker, camper (not glamper, we’re talking sleeping in tents on the cold hard ground and brewing coffee over a fire here) or just love adventuring outdoors, you know better than anyone that dressing for the occasion is rooted in practicality and functionality. But while looking stylish comes second to survival when you’re hitting the trails or hunkering down in a forest, fashion lovers in cities and suburbs are seeing utilitarianism as a styling opportunity. So much so that these pragmatic pieces and rugged vibes have recently been channeled into a street-style trend affectionately referred to as, “gorpcore.”
According to Stitch Fix stylist Gillian McHattie, gorpcore has been around for years. “The outdoorsy aesthetic originated in the mid-2010s as an evolution to streetwear and the desire for a rugged and nature-inspired look,” she tells InStyle. The difference between gorpcore then and gorpcore now? The power of celebrity influence and social media to bring it to the mainstream.
“Gorpcore-inspired styles are now often incorporated into runway collections and worn by influential celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid,” McHattie explains. “[And] with 'gorpcore' surpassing 1.3 billion views on TikTok, it’s no wonder more people are embracing the trend.”
What Does 'Gorpcore' Mean?
The word “Gorpcore” was coined by The Cut writer Jason Chen. ”Gorpcore’s not fashion for the 1 in 7 billion, nor is it fashion for the one percent,” Chen wrote back in 2017, “It’s live-good, do-good, feel-good fashion for the ones who care just a little too much.” The actual word, however, stems from the acronym for “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts,” a.k.a. trail mix — you know, the popular snack for hikers and campers.
Why Is Gorpcore Trending?
This wave of fashion “cores,” a.k.a. mood-board-inspired aesthetics, came about during the pandemic. First, there was cottagecore, followed by regencycore. Then came fairycore, gothcore, light academia, dark academia, schoolcore, balletcore, pearlcore, mermaidcore, and, of course, Barbiecore — one right after another in three years. Each had its distinct style, but at their core (no pun intended) these phenomenons shared a purpose: They were a form of escapism at a time when life was bleak and felt challenging.
Gorpcore, however, is cut from a different cloth. The aforementioned “cores” are whimsical, imaginative, and usually based on fictional worlds. Gorpcore is rugged, active, and down-to-earth — quite literally. It’s inspired by people getting up and out of the house and exploring real life instead of taking a mental break from all that lies beyond your four walls.
Stylist Allison Koehler calls it a “serendipitous bridge” between fashion and the comfort of our work-from-home uniforms (a.k.a. loungewear and sweats), while Noam Ballon, a designer at Basic.Space says gorpcore is “less about the simple but practical clothes associated with it, and more about the actions they encourage.”
Of course, we can only give these post-pandemic active lifestyles partial credit; runway collections and brands pushing these types of functional pieces play a role, too. It was seen on the catwalk back in 2017 via Fenty and Puma’s Spring/Summer 2018 collaboration, while Fashionista reported there would be a new wave of gorpcore in 2023 by way of collaborations like Reformation x Canada Goose, Dior x Birkenstock, and Collina Strada x Melissa.
What Are Some Staple Pieces of a Gorpcore Wardrobe?
If you’re already an outdoorsy person, then it’s more than likely your closet is chock full of gorpcore items. For the homebodies and city dwellers who would rather channel the gorpcore aesthetic than actually head to a campground — no judgment! — these are the five staples of a gorpcore wardrobe.
1. Cargo Pants: According to McHattie, cargo pants are to gorpcore what denim is to the everyday dresser: versatile and good for year-long wear. They're a must for nailing this look.
2. Hiking Boots: The go-to footwear for gorpcore dressers. “These can be versatile when worn with jeans, cargo pants, or even activewear or a casual workout dress,” McHattie says.
3. Something Sherpa: Merrell marketing manager Devon Vanoostveen and Koehler agree a coat, jacket, or hoodie lined with sherpa is especially key during the cooler months, as the fleece will help keep you warm.
4. Technical Jackets: While a shell of sherpa will keep you toasty, a technical jacket can protect you from a host of inconvenient weather conditions. They’re generally designed from different innovative fabrics that serve specific purposes, like fighting off windchill or keeping you and your clothes dry amidst rain, sleet, and snow. According to McHattie, they’re also just as versatile to style as the other pieces on this list.
5. Beanies and Bucket Hats: Whoever said gorpcore was void of accessories was sorely mistaken. McHattie tells InStyle that “a warm beanie for chillier months or a bucket hat to protect you from the sun are great accessories that add a touch of an outdoorsy charm to your look.” They’re casual, practical, and versatile — gorpcore at its finest.
How to Style Gorpcore Outfits
It may seem counterintuitive because of the aesthetic's roots, but at least some effort goes into pulling off the look in a way that says “I look like I’m hiking, but I’m actually just trying to hail a cab.” However, the outfit should have the right balance of stylish and practical.
For example, for the cooler months, celebrity stylist, Mickey Freeman tells InStyle that using layering techniques is a clever way to create a functional yet multi-dimensional look. For instance, “using an obscure yet luxurious wool balaclava and a chunky knit scarf over a leather windbreaker and super-baggy, nylon cargo parachute pants,” Freeman says, will “optimize the textures of each garment, while appearing ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store.”
Speaking of Mother Nature, McHattie tells InStyle that it's always best to consider the weather and elements — with a gorpcore outfit or otherwise. “When a sweatshirt just won’t cut it on those chilly fall and winter days, I recommend a cozy fleece jacket layered with a light T-shirt, flared leggings, and chunky sneakers for your everyday errands,” she says of her ideal cozy gorpcore look. “Throw on a knit beanie and you’ll be serving gorpcore from head to toe!”
Lastly, even though gorpcore became popular in the warm-weather months, Jack Riewe, senior designer at Basic.Space, says the trend can actually be easier to achieve in the winter. “You can wear technical jackets all winter long, where they make sense along with Reese Cooper pants and Salomon [shoes],” Riewe tells InStyle. “It’s an easy and practical uniform.”
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Read the original article on InStyle.