Getting outside has never been cooler. Outdoor gear has been a staple of street style for decades, but it didn’t permeate quite like it does these days. We’re in a time when The North Face covers its Nuptse puffer in Gucci’s monogram motif, Arc’teryx collaborates with buzzy UK skate brand Palace, and Michael Jordan’s fourth signature sneaker gets doused in hiking-friendly hues and materials courtesy of streetwear pioneer Union.
Some call the movement Gorpcore, a portmanteau of Gorp, hiker lingo for “good ol’ raisins and peanuts,” and normcore, said to be coined by The Cut in 2017. Think Patagonia deep-pile fleeces paired with designer sneakers, Salomons in the streets, and Arc’teryx shells despite zero chance of precipitation. For another subset of people, it’s more than an op-ed on the latest Lower East Side trend. As banal as it may sound, for some, it’s a lifestyle. Whether it’s full-on utilitarian usage in the mountains or functionality with a touch of flexing in the city, the desire for outdoor gear has always been there, and now it’s amplified.
From around the early 1990s to today, what started as a practical—and stylish to boot—tool for day-to-day city life became connoisseur’s garb before going full-on Wall Street Journal. Yet despite its mainstream spread, is it fair to even consider the outdoor enthusiasm a trend? In order to really explore the topic, we must look at where it started, where it’s been, and where it is today.