What is Gorpcore? The fashion trend that’s stylish and practical

Wondering what is Gorpcore? Here’s everything you need to know about this fashionably functional style

Street style of what is gorpcore
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A trending term, if you're wondering what is Gorpcore, you've come to the right place. Finally, a trend that is both stylish and practical, this look has created quite a frenzy amongst those who like to look cool without compromising on comfort.

Stylish and functional, the term Gorpcore was first coined by The Cut in 2017 to describe the rise in popularity of functional, outdoors-inspired gear normally only seen on hikers and mountain climbers. Named after the colloquial term for trail mix - Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts or GORP for short - it basically elevates practical items as super stylish must-haves. 

Technically, when discussing what is Gorpcore, you're talking about items that aren’t fashion-first but instead have been designed for outdoor activities such as skiing, running, and hiking. They keep you warm and dry, rather than showing off your fashion credentials... until now that is. 

So, why is this trend having a resurgence again five years down the line from its original outing?

Megan Watkins, Head Stylist at the online destination for independent fashion brands SilkFred (opens in new tab), believes the reason so many people are asking what is Gorpcore and why is it so popular is because of its timeless appeal.

“While Gorpcore has been around for a few years now, its revival every fall/winter is no huge surprise because it absolutely oozes Gen-Z coolness,” she says.

“This is largely thanks to high-profile celebs and influencers constantly posting in their oversized fleeces and gilets on Instagram. Also, the functionality and comfort of Gorpcore pieces make them timeless in your wardrobe.”

When working out what is Gorpcore, you need to roll back aesthetics and start with practicality. When it comes to Gorpcore, layers are essential, so you're looking for items that are designed for keeping you warm. The best waterproof jackets fit nicely into this trend too, as it hones in on the practical element of dressing. And don’t forget the best winter hats, such as cozy beanies, thermal socks and nylon bags. And while aesthetics come into play later, it's all about function first. Gorpcore is also very much a unisex look which means that you can shop from all categories for this look. 

Celebrities wearing the Gorpcore trend

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While you can wear it top-to-toe, you can also dip your toe into the water and make like celebrity fans of Gorpcore such as Rihanna, Billie Eilish and Bella Hadid, and incorporate elements into your everyday look. Team a huge puffer jacket with flared leggings. Slip-on hiking boots with a sweet floral dress, or throw on a fleecy jacket over a pair of dungarees.

As well as bright colors, such as orange and pink, featuring heavily in this look, it’s also about the logos. Just like the ‘90s fashion trend for branded crossbody bags, logos signify that you’re a Gorpcore insider and you know the brands to wear whether that’s Patagonia, Arc’Teryx or The North Face.

Even the top luxury designers are now understanding the power of Gorpcore brands. Just take a look at Gucci’s collaboration with The North Face in 2020 or Jill Sander’s range designed for Arc’Teryx in 2021. And while designers such as Prada and Lanvin have created their own more fashion-led interpretation of Gorpcore, the true aesthetic isn’t about high fashion iterations. Rather it’s about embracing the functionality, technical fabrics, and practicality (and some may say slightly ugly element) of clothes that offer stormproof fabrics and thermal layers - making this look ideal for injecting into winter outfit ideas.

WHAT IS GORPCORE: HOW TO WEAR IT WITH STYLE

You’re more likely to wear your Gorpcore gear out at the weekend for a casual brunch than you are hiking, but the basics still remain the same. Think practical, embrace the normality of the look, and perhaps throw in an unexpected touch or two to make it truly unique to you.

1. Best coats for Gorpcore

the best coats for what is gorpcore

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The mainstay of the Gorpcore trend is a coat, and the most ubiquitous one is the down-filled puffer jacket. Once only the preserve of those battling below-freezing temperatures, puffer jackets have become a must-have in every stylish woman’s winter wardrobe, becoming one of the best coat trends for 2022.

While black is the most popular shade, earthy, natural shades are also popular within this trend so look for khaki or beige for a minimal look. Bright colors have also long been used by outdoor brands, perhaps in an attempt to jazz up the practical nature of the clothing, so if you want to stand out from the fashion crowd, try an orange or bright green iteration.

"Gorpcore is all about functionality, so it’s important that your puffer jacket is versatile and easily adaptable to any ensemble,” says Megan.

“Puffer jackets can often be bulky. If you’re prone to overheating, go for a jacket that uses a synthetic feather fill and a nylon outer layer. The fill creates air pockets that keep you warm, while the nylon is lightweight and durable.”

“We're actually seeing gilets reigning supreme on SilkFred right now. They allow more versatility when it comes to layering versus your typical puffer jacket.”

As well as the puffer, bright, functional raincoats are also an option. They may not provide the cozy warmth of a puffer jacket, but they can be layered over a fleece and base layers to create a true Gorpcore look.

2. Best trousers for Gorpcore

Gorpcore trouser trends

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Ditch the jeans for this look as it’s all about the technical trouser, paired with hiking boots and fleece, you’ve got the ultimate Gorpcore look.

Whether they’re made out of water-repellent material or are stretchy for ultimate comfort, these trousers are the sort of wardrobe essentials that provide a basic background for more fashion-forward pieces.

The top Gorpcore trouser has to be the humble cargo pant. Not sure how to style cargo pants for this look? Make like French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld and team them with chunky soled boots and an oversized puffer jacket for a look that says camping... but make it fashion.

3. Best tops for Gorpcore

Best tops for Gorpcore

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The controversial top that is popular for this trend is one that’s not been cool for many, many years - the humble fleece.

“Fleeces used to be worn exclusively by dads on ‘serious walks’, but now they are worn by the likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner,” says Megan.

Her advice? Take a cue from the celebs and style them with suit trousers and a mini handbag if you don’t want to go full-on Gorpcore.

Aside from your fluffy friend, other tops to try are slim, long-sleeved t-shirts, such as those you might wear as base layers for skiing, or oversized sweatshirts, or the best hoodies. Go plain, but with brand logos or monograms - a mainstay of Gorpcore - or with a nature-inspired motif. Whatever style of top you choose, they make the basis for some great fall outfit ideas.

4. Best shoes for Gorpcore

bst shoes for gorpcore

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The best winter boots are ideal for the Gorpcore trend. Think chunky soles, and in particular, hiking boots.

“Hiking boots remain a staple in our wardrobe because they are so versatile,” explains Megan.

“They are perfect for winter walks and festive activities. Pair them with skinny jeans and an oversized checked shirt for that ultimate off-duty look. It’s best to avoid wearing wide-leg jeans which will create a bulky silhouette. 

These are not boots that you’ll work into your work Christmas party outfits, but they will take you on a long dog walk or a mammoth shopping session with comfort.

As an alternative to boots, ‘technical’ trainers are your next best bet. These aren’t trainers to pose in. These are trainers to go on a full-on hike - think padded insoles, chunky gripped soles and waterproof uppers. They may not be the prettiest of trainers, but they come with lots of attitude. The brands to shop from include the Nike ACG range and celeb favorites Salomon and Grenson.

5. Best bags for Gorpcore

best bags for Gorpcore

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Would you ever go on a long hike or a camping trip without a backpack? This is why it’s the primary bag style for the Gorpcore trend. 

Whether you choose one that comes with all the technical add-ons or a simpler style, this is a design that works whatever your lifestyle. In fact, they’re the best work backpacks for women - large enough to fit your laptop and workday essentials in, with added benefits of padded straps and rainproof fabrics, ensuring everything is kept dry.

If you’re looking for something smaller, try crossbody or waist bags, the latter often worn slung across the body for a more directional feel.

Regardless of the style, this is no place for leather or patent when discovering what is Gorpcore, think more about practical fabrics such as nylon. And while black is perfect for going with everything in your wardrobe, modern Gorpcore is all about colors, so a bright bag is a great way to inject a pop of color into every outfit.

7. Best accessories for Gorpcore

Gorpcore best accessories

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The ultimate finishing touch for this practical look is a hat - preferably a beanie. If you’re wondering how to wear a hat, Megan says it’s all about confidence.

“The golden rule of hats is: Wear the hat and don’t let the hat wear you,” she says.

“It’s important to shop around and try different styles. Luckily, beanie hats are easy to style with any winter outfit without going too bold, so are a great starter hat.”

Start with neutral shades of grey, blue and black. Once you’ve got your nerve up go bolder with bright colors and logos. Baseball caps work as well if you want a sportier vibe.

Other essential accessories include thermal socks and oversized sunnies as if you’ve just been skiing in Aspen, once again tapping into the latest trends.