Gorpcore: Adventure Gear That's Better for the Planet
Getting Back to the Garden
The pandemic brought with it a yearning to reconnect with nature. Many of us were left with no other option than to organise socially-distanced meet ups with friends in parks or for the more adventurous – a long, paper map-guided hike with nothing but the company of good ol’ raisins and peanuts.
It’s this very trail mix - much loved and lauded by hikers - that has leant its name to GORPcore, the functional outdoor wear that has swamped the streetwear and high fashion world in the past four years. Defined by fleeces, ripstop, utility pants and parkas, Gorpcore has enjoyed ongoing momentum into the global pandemic, partly thanks to the mental health benefits of being outdoors.
An Adventure a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Canadian doctors can now prescribe “nature prescriptions,” allowing patients to access National Parks for free as part of their treatment. There is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that spending time in nature – at least two hours a week can reduce the risk and temper the severity of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease. Patients have reported increased clarity, good mood and energy as a result of spending time in nature.
While the balance of nature remains delicate, so does the balance between profiting off an aesthetic and championing sustainable clothing which doesn’t pollute the very earth that these garments are designed to roam. Sending people into the wilderness in plastic-heavy fabrications which are contaminating our air, land and water is a paradoxical thing. But also, most brands don’t spare a thought to the way clothing is used in the real world beyond its first few wears, lending to the cataclysmic air engulfing us right now.
The End is Nigh
Sometimes labelled "apocalyptic" fashion when it appears on runways, outdoor wear treads the fine line between alarmist fashion and straight-out nihilism. Though the camouflage and bright colours accenting the insulated volume of ripstop jackets looks a lot like the caution tape surrounding a crime scene – or more aptly – a natural disaster, they need not signal a resignation to the climate disaster unfolding around us.
Rather, outdoor wear made with recycled plastics and organic fabrics can bring us closer to nature’s purpose, and further from the fiery depths of hell.
So how do we combat what is inevitably facilitated by our mere presence on the planet? How can we possibly negate our own time – the Anthropocene, to make it so future generations will still have a planet to call home, flowers to pick, a warm summer, a chilly winter – the simple pleasures. Not a lake of muddy sewerage where a community once stood.
A Better Alternative
While Gorpcore is often used to signal streetwear savoire faire, its origins lie in roughing it in nature, pitching a tent, collecting kindling and fighting bears hand-to-paw. So it only makes sense that it should represent the ideals of those that pioneered the aesthetic. Rather than just wearing clothes that will keep you warm and dry in the apocalypse (increasingly unlikely to be effective in flood and fire however), wearing clothes that can help avert apocalyptic mayhem entirely performs its function when chosen over less sustainable fabrications. It’s a simple credo: Outdoor wear should actively move us towards a sustainable norm.
The rise in the popularity of gorpcore is partly due to a deeper consumer commitment to clothing; people don’t just want to wear clothes that look good, but something that performs a function too. Extra pockets, hidden zips, stowable hoods or puffers that can be worn as backpacks once the weather gets too warm all mean that our clothes can provide us with an extra service. And with greater consumer commitment to investing in clothes comes a greater desire for sustainability.
La Niña – raging tempest that she is – heinously put a stop to many outdoor plans. Of course, we did this to ourselves. But come winter, hopefully a slightly drier season, the golden wattle will be blooming, and the sun will be shining. And we will be climbing mountains and scaling craggy slopes. Or strolling through the gently meandering footpaths of tourist tracks. Shop Glue’s sustainable gorpcore within the Future Choice range.