The migration of sportswear into everyday casual clothing took place some decades ago, when Nike and Reebok dominated the global market in fierce competition. Since then, outdoor activities have greatly increased and clothing from Patagonia and The North Face has started to be seen on the streets. Approach footwear, designed to get you to the foot of your climb, became common in the coffee shops a while back, along with Goretex-lined coats intended to withstand the most severe storm.
Apparently, the word “gorpcore” was first named in 2017 by magazine The Cut, which used the long-accepted acronym GORP – “good ol’ raisins and peanuts”, used by American hikers to define their trail mix snacks (although occasionally some hikers have been known to backslide towards M&Ms and pretzels) – and created the term gorpcore.
Core itself is a term for a niche trend, often thought up via social media and certainly used by it, and comes alongside others such as cottagecore, which covers the vaguely pretentious British middle-class, dog-walkers clad in green wellingtons and Barbour jackets, many of which spent time during the pandemic gardening and baking bread. Core is a useful term for those looking to develop a persona on Instagram or that even more weird online platform TikTok.
Gorpcore has more serious underpinnings as consumer behaviour adjusts to less time being spent in city offices, more commuting being done on foot or by bicycle and the increasing occurrence of moments of extreme rainfall. The outdoor world is also of increasing interest with nature reserves, country parks, coastal paths and regular hiking all more popular and important to raising awareness of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Many consumers have stayed with the expert outdoor ranges, but styles have been replicated by less expensive brands so that the metropolitan wearer has a choice of more affordable yet still long-lasting gear, premium outdoor or even luxury casual clothing, puffer coats and practical footwear. All of which, in our increasingly dressed down world, can be worn whenever or however we like. Watch out for those chunky boots as they have been steadily replacing trainers, and do not be afraid to get out those merino base layers when it’s cold.
More casual lifestyles should benefit leather
While we may mourn the passing of the suit and tie, and with it a large part of what was sometimes defined as black footwear, the popularity of outdoor gear should benefit leather. Durable footwear, boots or otherwise, needed to withstand poor weather and rough roads and paths needs to be leather and offers wide design and construction opportunities. For long lasting outerwear, a greater market should be created for leather and shearling in a wide range of offerings.
Gorpcore is not new, it’s been going on quite a while, but it’s a development that is positive for a natural material that wears in rather than wears out, looking better with age and capable of repair. A natural covering and nature’s friend.
Follow Dr Mike Redwood on Twitter: @michaelredwood
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