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The Ultimate Guide To Gorpcore Fashion

November 3rd, 2023
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How To Nail The Good ‘Ol Raisins And Peanuts Look

If you have spent any time recently going down #menswear rabbit holes, or have listened to a fashion podcast, or even just looked at Instagram, you’ve probably noticed the term “gorpcore” thrown around. Maybe you know exactly what it is and are already nailing the look. But maybe you’re afraid to ask, for fear that the style bros will shame you for your lack of knowledge.

Never fear, dear reader, we’ve got you covered. Simply put, “gorp” is an old hiking acronym that stands for “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” — the most basic of trail snacks.

For several years now, journalists and influencers have been adding the suffix -core to various trends that align with the “core” aesthetic of a movement. You may have heard of Dadcore/Normcore (dressing like a regular guy, maybe wearing nerdy Pete Carroll air monarch shoes), or Cottagecore (like living on the set of Little House on the Prairie meets a Dutch Flower farmer), and maybe you’ve heard of Gorpcore.

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Gorpcore has skyrocketed in popularity over the past several years, made somewhat mainstream by TikTok videos of young aficionados throwing on their Arc’teryx jackets and hopping into a shower, so the water “beads right off.”

n the world of Gorpcore, Gore-tex is as sought after as Vicuña wool and you’re much more likely to see someone rocking Cordura than corduroy. Fits are more functional (looser) and the hottest shoe isn’t an Edward Green loafer but a collab with Merrell.

So with all this said, is it worth investing in these pieces or is this just another fad to let pass by?

Well, if you’re planning on a camping trip and spending extended time outdoors, of course. If “the elements” are the walk from your apartment to Cafe Colette, it might be worth investigating a little more.

Let’s jump in.

Key Traits Of Gorpcore

Technical Fibers

Technical fibers might be the most important reason to invest in some “gorpy” pieces, in my opinion, and the reason that they will serve a purpose outside of any sort of fashion-movement perspective. Much of the gorpcore movement has a “function over form” aesthetic, so you’ll find that investing in some of these pieces will serve you well in various climates and ways in the future.

Key amongst these features are the fabrics used. Gore-Tex is maybe the premier fabric in this world. Created by Gore (formally W.L. Gore and Associates), it’s literally a teflon product meant to keep you dry, but also breathe in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re wearing a trash bag.

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Gore-Tex Pro is the highest level of this fabric, a 3L (meaning three layers) that is essentially waterproof. I say essentially because any watch enthusiast or diver will tell you, nothing is waterproof, there is a depth or an amount of time or some combo of both where water will eventually get through something, but for purposes of a garment, this is waterproof — you can stand in a torrential rainstorm and stay dry – or stand under a shower head.

So that’s a lot of information, but the point is that these fabrics have a purpose, and they’re extremely good at that purpose. So having a technical shell jacket is probably going to serve you well if you need to run to the store in a downpour, or if you (like me) spend a lot of time skiing.

Investing in a shell jacket might be the most sensible way to get into gorpcore. Try getting something neutral like a black shell and you’ll find you can match it with sweats or jeans easily. If you’re feeling really spendy, head to Grailed at the link above and get the Jil Sander Arc’teryx collection.

Tonal

Tonal is probably not the first thing you think of when you think of gorpcore. The idea of using different hues and the breadth of a colorway to show the depth and texture of an outfit, but it’s actually a huge part of nailing a gorpcore look. You’ll see brands leverage almost woodsy-camo in a lot of way that shows off the different materials in construction. Or you’ll see a lot of black on black where a matte/shine juxtaposition is in play. This all looks really cool when done well, and allows you to wear really technical products without it looking overpowering. I tend to really like brands like Outlier and ACRONYM for this application.

Now, on the other end of the gorpcore spectrum are the brightest neons you’ve ever seen. We’re talking lime green Patagonia shells and pink Aztech Mountain pants. This is a little harder to pull off, but like with all HSS advice, I think if done in moderation it can look really cool. A fun way to make a tailored outfit pop might be to wear a patterned tie, or a pocket square. In this world, tying together blue jeans, a navy sweater, and some dark shoes might be a poppy shell jacket.

These pieces are really expensive so I’d recommend thinking long and hard about how you’re going to wear it (I have a RAB puffer that I almost never wear because the zipper track color looks so bizarre with every outfit I can think of) or head to Grailed or eBay to find a version and recycle . . . which leads to the next point.

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Repurposed & Reimagined

One of the more admirable aspects of gorpcore is the sustainable nature of many of the products — certainly brands like Patagonia have made this a huge part of their marketing mix. So you can buy a new product knowing that it was made from repurposed vs. virgin nylon, or that it was made, in the case of a lot of new products made from Econyl, from things like recycled fishing lines.

Similarly, gorpcore also lends itself to the thrifting crowd — as most of these products are pretty durable they don’t tend to rot away in a closet, but are instead donated or found by vintage hunters and then resold. This, in turn, leads to a really cool cycle of younger generations finding and repurposing old outdoor gear into the trendy outfits that you see on instagram, with old fishing jackets or hunting vests being worn in a way never imagined by the original brand.

The DTC darlings of the world like Outdoor Voices have actually incorporated a lot of this into their recent looks, with them going so far as to recreate the zip-off tech pants that were so popular back in the early aughts.

Footwear Is Key

This might be the most striking part of the gorpcore movement. While Jordans will still be Jordans, and a John Lobb Oxford will never be out of style, the idea with gorpcore is to, well, wear something you would hike in. This means that brands like Merrell and Salomon are as trendy as you get.

You’ve now started to see these brands collaborate with some of the cooler of-the-moment brands (like District Vision), and you’re just as likely to be able to find that pair of shoes on their website as you would on SSENSE. Brands that saw success during the early urban-lumberjack days of the mid-2000s to early 2010s are also making something of a comeback, with Paraboot and Diemme releasing new models and new colorways, and gracing the feet of style mavens like Nick Wooster.

So how do you wear hiking boots or trail-running sneakers in a way that feels stylish and not like the guy who just saw them at the mall and now wears them with everything? This is a tough one — the people that are in the know are going to know, and those that don’t, well, they don’t care what or who jjjjound x danner is.

So in this case, I would suggest getting something that speaks to your aesthetic and can actually serve a purpose for you. I have a pair of Salomon Outpath shoes that are my go-tos for the dog park — they’re waterproof and keep the dust out, plus they’re comfy and supportive. If I’m wearing khakis or jeans they look nice enough to then go meet a friend at the coffee shop and not miss a beat.

My final advice is simply personal preference — I tend to think utilitarian shoes look better worn in — it doesn’t look like you’re trying hard or wearing something that you’re not getting function out of, so make sure to take them around the block a few times.

Layers & Carrying Layers

If you’ve spent any time in the wilderness you know that layering is key. I’ve been on camping trips where we’ll wake up in the teens and you’ll be sweating in a tee by mid-day. As such, using layers is your best friend when trying to control your body temp, and it’s also a cool feature of gorpcore.

Most of these garments are designed to either hold in heat and expel moisture, and that is compounded when you layer a puffer under say a shell jacket. This is also a great trick for the fashionista looking to wear an outfit that has different components based on whether you’re standing outside or at the bar. So, just as you would with an overcoat over a tailored suit, try layering a hoodie or fleece under a shell jacket.

The need to stuff away layers that you shed and still have your stuff at hand leads perfectly into another gorpy trend, which is having some kind of technical carrying solution. I’m talking about a ripstop tote bag or go crazy with something really cool and unique from Cimoro or And Wander (and if you’re really going crazy gorpcorp get the And Wander Salomon collab Outpaths) to try your coat or trail bars into. It’s a fun way to introduce color to the outfit as well.

Top 5 Gorpcore Essentials

Okay so with those features out of the way, I thought I might make sense to share what I consider to be the gorpcore essential pieces, and I’ve touched on a few already.

Technical 3L Shell

As stated above, this is about as versatile and helpful a piece as you can have. I have a few, not because any of them have ever worn out or become less waterproof, but simply because they’re so cool and the little kid in me always wants to see what hidden goggle wipe or lip balm pocket exists in my new pick up. I highly recommend anything from: Arc’teryx, Aztech Mountain, RAB, Patagonia, And Wander, or ACRONYM

Trail Running Shoe Or Traditional Hiking Boot

I tend to lean towards the aesthetic of a traditional hiking boot, like those made by Viberg, Danner, Paraboot, Diemme, or Fracap, so that would be my initial recommendation to anyone looking to get into this style. It’s more versatile in my mind, and works well with technical garments but also tailoring or jeans.

That said, if you are looking for something that is purpose-driven first and that you can wear out second, I’d recommend looking at trail running shoes — they’re great for most hikes (ankle support is huge on anything technical, but i’ve taken my trail running shoes on some black diamond trails with no problem) and also just flex well into wearing out. Fun brands to check out are Salomon, La Sportiva, Merrell, On Running, and of course, everyone’s favorite right now, Hoka.

Hats

So hats in general are not a “gorpy” item, but they do make a great addition to any gorpcore outfit, particularly one in a technical fiber, like Ciele running hats, or try one with a fun national park logo on them (or a plain one that you can sew a national park patch on. Side note: my favorite brand here for a while was Fairends, but it looks like they have shut down, a real loss). Additionally, I’ve been seeing more and more brands releasing bucket caps made of interesting fabrics like econyl or ripstop, and that’s a great way to elevate a boring look. Check out brands like Adsum, American Trench, Stone Island, or Stüssy for a cool option here.

Killer Pants

This is the area where I struggle most, as most pants do not fit me given that I’m all legs, but honestly there are so many cool options out there you can’t go wrong. A gorpy pant is going to have a lot of pockets, is going to come in technical fiber like goretex or ripstop, and this is a great opportunity to try something olive, like this amazing ripstop pair from Engineered Garments. Using faded olive pants as a way to mix up your look from dark denim or khakis is a fun gorpy move. 18east is another great brand to check out here.

Fleece

If you read my early aughts piece you know that polar fleece was invented to be a technical alternative to wool, and its combination of warmth, stretch, and resiliency has made it a mainstay on trails and mountains. In contrast to the shell, where I think the go-to move is to keep things somewhat muted and versatile, the fleece is a great way to liven things up. Reach for a fun color from Topo Designs, Kapital, or Peak Performance and enjoy.

Quick Tip

Don’t sleep on sport-specific brands. Rapha, Pas Normal Studios, and Tracksmith have all released more everyday wear that still encapsulates the ethos of their brands, and it’s all great. If you’re a runner or cyclist it’s just a bonus!

Gorpcore but Make it Natural

Gorpcore, like any of the -core aesthetic movements, runs the risk of becoming campy and over-the-top if you try too hard. I don’t think you should buy a jacket just to jump in the shower for TikTok, and you probably don’t need a fly-fishing vest if you don’t fly fish. But working technical fabrics, interesting silhouettes, and function into your look is a really fun way of mixing things up. And if that impromptu hiking invitation comes up over coffee, you’ll be ready to go!

Stylishly Yours,
Drew Chambers - He Spoke Style

Drew Chambers

Drew is 6’5″, and his difficult-to-fit frame immediately drew him to custom clothing and niche menswear brands. He is a co-founder of Armscye, a digital agency focused on paid digital advertising, content creation, and holistic marketing solutions for ecommerce brands. Prior to founding Armscye, Drew spent over a decade working in-house as a CMO for a national consulting firm and start-up technology platform, where he helped launch new products as well as built new market and channel expansion strategies. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont. Outside of advertising Drew enjoys cycling, skiing, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

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Style November 2nd, 2023
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There are myriad of benefits to owning a dark brown Donegal tweed suit. First, the fabric is incredibly durable, making it a sound investment that you can wear and enjoy for many, many years to come. Next, it’s exceptionally warm, which is very practical when the temperatures drop. Owing to its neps — or small flecks of color peppered throughout the fabric — it has a very unique appearance with pretty much every single garment being a one-of-a-kind piece. And by owning one, you’re connecting yourself to centuries of Irish weaving tradition, craftsmanship, and heritage.

However, the biggest benefit to having a Donegal tweed suit in your fall and winter wardrobe is its absolutely incredible and unmatched versatility. And to illustrate that versatility, here are five ways I’m wearing it this season.