Gorpcore: How Specialized Hiking Boots & Parkas Became High Fashion

rapper A$AP Rocky wearing a Gorpcore-inspired outfit

If there’s one thing about high fashion, it is that brands always find ways to surprise you. The term “gorpcore” first started circling in 2017 when The Cut, New York Magazine’s style site, used it to describe a new trend: people wearing specialized mountain gear in urban settings. So how did that fashion choice come about?

Gorpcore Is the New Normcore

The 2010s saw the introduction of the ever-popular trend dubbed “normcore,” which saw men wearing pragmatic, recontextualized clothing and accessorizing it as lust-worthy fashion. One of the defining figures in making the shift from normcore to gorpcore was, undoubtedly, taciturn singer Frank Ocean who “trekked” his way to a 2019 Paris fashion show sporting a curious outfit. For the occasion, he wore a greenish beanie from Arc’teryx, the 32-year-old North Vancouver outdoor clothing brand, and a clementine-orange jacket by Mammut, the 159-years-old iconic mountain gear Swiss brand.

Singer Frank Ocean during a 2019 Paris fashion show wearing a gorpcore outfit

The beauty of gorpcore fashion is that it honors all-weather brands and their ability to provide quality protection from the elements while offering elegance and style. It’s not about Prada coming up with a Salomon lookalike hiking boot that would falter on the trail or Dior recreating Arc’teryx’s beanies. It’s about keeping it authentic.

Two Types of Gorpcore Brands

As is only right in high fashion, it is often the case that design trumps function. That’s why when it comes to gorpcore-inspired outfits, people can choose brands like Gyakusou, Houdini, Wander, Snow Peak, and F/CE known for balancing high-design gear and quality performance. It’s no surprise these fashion houses are relatively new, whereas mountain gear giants like Marmot, Patagonia, Salomon, and REI, are known for placing function over design. That’s not to say you can’t find both in their items.

Woman in a gorpcore outfit in an urban setting

What will be the future of gorpcore and normcore? No one can tell yet, but one thing’s for sure: it would seem people are beginning to look for greater comfort in high fashion wear, and recent trends serve to prove that.