How gorpcore became one of 2022's biggest and most unexpected fashion trends

Baggy, protective outerwear, sported at the Winter Olympics and by Rihanna, is the year's hottest style choice

Adidas x Prada Re-Nylon collection. Photo: Prada
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You might wonder what Rihanna and her partner A$AP Rocky have in common with the snowboarders executing big air tricks at the Winter Olympics, or ramblers hiking across the moors on a winter’s weekend. It might seem like a stretch to think there is any connection, but the recent display of baggy, functional outerwear being sported by Olympians, hikers and the singer-come-fashion-mogul as she shows off her baby bump is huge. It is called gorpcore.

Gorp is an acronym often used by hikers and campers to mean 'good old raisins and peanuts'

Gorpcore may currently be having a moment, but the term was coined in 2017. It refers to the convergence of outdoor labels and metropolitan folk. It is a streetwear trend with a utilitarian aesthetic that makes Patagonia fleeces and North Face jackets a style staple. And it is officially one of the hottest fashion trends for 2022, with global shopping platform Lyst confirming its status in its latest quarterly index.

Gorpcore really kicked off in the winter of 2020, when the great outdoors was the nearest many could get to a social life and when, despite the cold in some parts of the world, parks replaced restaurants as the places to meet friends. In truth, your best friend was a big down-filled coat to keep you warm. The trend remained popular throughout the year, with an uptick in the latter part of 2021, as shoppers sought technical outerwear and footwear that could withstand the elements.

Some of the hottest products (and this is a look that encompasses men’s and womenswear) include Prada’s Re-Nylon puffer jacket; Arc’teryx’s Alpha SV jacket, a style from the Canadian mountaineering brand that the late Virgil Abloh wore when out snowboarding; and Moncler’s Cuvellier short down jacket. There’s a range of hoodies, padded slip-on shoes and those Miu Miu crochet balaclavas that were the only protection from the elements for the brave posse of skimpily dressed models who presented the collection on the snowy Alpine slopes.

It is practical and protective, and until now was not deemed fashionable. “The pandemic has fundamentally shifted consumers’ expectations; in uncertain times, movement and functionality have become key purchasing criteria for many fashion lovers,” says Camilla Clarkson, communications director of Lyst.

Celebrities and social media have fuelled that change. It may have been snowing in New York when Rihanna revealed her baby bump, but she was snugly swaddled in a long shimmering pink puffer coat. Two days earlier, the bump was well hidden beneath a windbreaker by British cult menswear designer Martine Rose.

The singer and A$AP Rocky have a wardrobe full of this type of functional outerwear, which has sparked searches online by fans. Similarly, singer Frank Ocean is often photographed in his orange puffer jacket by Mammut, the mountaineering brand from Switzerland that has expanded into clothing.

Model Bella Hadid has a wardrobe full of padded jackets, while singer Dua Lipa has been spotted in the coveted Yeezy Gap Round Jacket that was released at the end of 2021. The tie-up between the high-street brand and Kanye West was only available in three colours and sold out in minutes online.

Lipa teamed her cobalt blue jacket with cream tracksuit bottoms and Balenciaga sunglasses. It is that baggy silhouette with colourful prints that big air ski and snowboarding stars such as Eileen Gu and half-pipe boarder Chloe Kim wore in Beijing — bright, functional, super-cool and super-stylish. It was also a look favoured by the slick crowds at Copenhagen Fashion Week, with those in attendance wearing technical cargo pants, protective puffer jackets such as Louis Vuitton’s monogram rendition, woodsmen chequered lumberjackets and rubber boots.

So how did gorpcore become so fashionable? The term was first used by New York magazine’s The Cut when, in 2017, it was trying to find a simple, catch-all term for a style of clothing that had been around for a while and informally described as “camping chic”, but was really more than that. Gorp is an acronym often used by hikers and campers to mean “good old raisins and peanuts”, a classic trail mix and not the most eloquent of monikers for a fashion trend. Gorpcore is a style that’s focused on wearing utilitarian, functional, outdoors-inspired gear.

Brands known more to hikers and campers than those who attend fashion weeks have been crossing over into the mainstream, including the aforementioned Arc’teryx, North Face and Patagonia, as well as brands such as Snow Peak, Canada Goose and Columbia. The clothes tend to be colourful, as classic camping gear and outerwear is, and in hues that have not been so common in fashionable cold-weather attire.

But the industry has cottoned on, with brands including Canada Goose proving hugely successful with their collaborations. The label tapped Chinese designer Angel Chen in late 2020 to create a colourful capsule collection that combined traditional technical clothing with Eastern elements. It featured the brand’s parkas, convertible down jackets with a removable lower half, wind and rainwear, and knits. This was a fashion-first for the label and at the time of its launch, Woody Blackford, executive vice president, product at Canada Goose, described the team as drawing inspiration “from distinct aesthetics that challenge us. Our brief is to reinterpret and reimagine our core design DNA through their eyes. Angel has done just that, putting her signature spin on our most iconic products.”

Arc’teryx, worn by rap stars such as A$AP Rocky, has launched a capsule collaboration with Jil Sander for mountain sports gear. Gucci and North Face have collaborated, with designer Alessandro Michele drawing on a selection of 1990s styles from the latter brand, including its Nuptse jacket and vest, reworking them with Gucci aesthetics.

The retro style of these down blousons, insulated bomber jackets and hiking boots were playfully enhanced using the monogram and colourful Gucci prints, some from the archive, including a mountain scene, a forest pattern and two floral designs. To this were added lightweight outerwear, sweatshirts, pants in techno cotton toile and vests in nylon Econyl (a material made from recycled fishing nets).

Small wonder that high-performance brands are one of Browns Fashion and’s strongest categories. So why is this look trending now? Lyst believes it is because of our underlying mood as we move through and beyond the pandemic.

“As Covid becomes a regular part of life — along with fears of a recession, geopolitical uncertainty and the threat of climate change — we can understand why shoppers want to reflect an image of survival,” says Clarkson. “It’s clear that pieces described as ‘gorpcore’ or ‘technical’ have been resonating with consumers, a good indication that practicality is here to stay as the world embraces the new ‘normal’.”

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Updated: March 20, 2022, 9:00 AM