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Gorp Girls gorpcore trend TikTok
Courtesy of Gorp Girls

The fashion fans proving gorpcore is for life, not just for posers

Starting life as a fashion trend back in 2017, a growing number of young people are slipping into their Arc’teryx and Salomons and *actually* heading for the great outdoors

The dawn of TikTok has accelerated fashion trends to an insane degree, with the internet seemingly churning out a new one [or five] with each passing day – only for them to be completely forgotten the next. But through the compulsive need to affix ‘core’ to everything – we’ve run the gamut of balletcore, blokecore, Barbiecore, and way more in the last couple of months alone – one trend has prevailed: the functional, outdoorsy ‘gorpcore’. 

First coined by Jason Chen for The Cut in 2017, the moniker was a clever play on ‘Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts’, or the trail mix sustenance traditionally favoured by seasoned hikers. In the article, Chen describes gorpcore as a trend defined by irony: the clothes may be utilitarian and crafted to be worn in the most extreme elements, but their wearers are anything but. 

Put simply, most of the time you’re more likely to see a gorpcore fanatic decked out in Patagonia and Arc’teryx mooching around Broadway Market than you are scaling Snowdonia – an idea that was further hammered home via a recent TikTok trend that saw people flexing their gorpcore jacket’s waterproof qualities in the shower rather than the rain.

And yet, six years on from the term’s conception, it seems that young people are actually getting outside. From hiking collectives flooding the Cotswolds, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Peak District, to couples going camping and taking selfies on Ben Nevis, social media is filled with young people decked out in Oakley, Arc’teryx, and Salomon – actually enjoying the great outdoors, rather than just posing in its merch. 

Joshua Jones is one fashion fan whose deep dive into the aesthetic saw him encouraged to reconnect with nature after a long hiatus. The 24-year-old grew up camping and surfing in Wales, before moving to London at 18 and becoming absorbed into city life. When he discovered ‘gorpcore’, it was a way of bridging his love of the city and the country, and he began taking his new clothes out hiking on the weekends. 

While Jones recognises that plenty of people are slipping into gorpcore looks for purely poseur purposes, he’s noticed a trend among his peers in that a new jacket or pair of hiking boots often acts as a gateway to a new – or renewed – love of outdoor activities. And then, when people become hooked, the positive effects on mental health and opportunity for socialising outside of the norm are what keeps them coming back – ensuring the trend the longevity it’s currently enjoying.

He’s quick to confirm it’s not all hinged on the aesthetic, though, and being stuck up a mountain in adverse weather is a great fashion leveller. “On hiking meets, fashion obviously isn’t the most important aspect,” he explains. “It’s about connecting with like-minded people. As long as the clothes are suitable for the activity, it doesn’t matter where they come from.” 

Where once membership to Soho House might have been the ultimate clout symbol amongst city-dwelling youth, as more of these collectives spring up it seems like there’s a shift in what’s important to a huge swathe of Gen Z. In recent months, outdoor groups like Gorp Girls, Athene Club, and Common Ground have noticed huge upticks in enquiries about membership as more and more people seek to escape the city for treks across the countryside at the weekend. 

As the brainchild of Josty, Tang, Tyler Jones, Joel Moore, and Liam Money, Common Ground was formed in early 2022, using social media to organise open-invite hikes and excursions. A year on and they’ve taken groups on bi-monthly walking tours of the Peak District, the Lake District, and Snowdonia. For Josty, the gorpcore movement feels similar to skateboarding culture. “It’s more than just a fashion trend, it has a lifestyle attached to it,” he says. “Once the trend dies down – if it ever does – a lot of people will have already fallen in love with the outdoors and will stick around anyway.” 

“It’s more than just a fashion trend, it has a lifestyle attached to it. Once the trend dies down – if it ever does – a lot of people will have already fallen in love with the outdoors and will stick around anyway” – Josty, Common Ground

Many of the people who come along to Common Ground hikes cite a mixture of gorpcore and lockdown as the inspiration behind their newfound love of hiking. “A lot of people I talk to say they got bored of having nothing to do and started to explore the local nature around them,” says Josty. This was the case for 20-year-old Mimi Francis. Her discovery of gorpcore fashion coincided with taking up hiking around the English countryside, for lack of anything better to do during the pandemic. 

She has since become a self-proclaimed ‘gorp girlie’, with her relationship with the outdoors a rare silver lining to come from losing years to lockdowns. “I went to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice this year and hiking to the site at 2AM and dancing around in the mud would’ve been a very different experience without my Gramicci waterproof,” she says. “When you have the right gear you realise nothing is stopping you from hiking Epping Forest or getting the train to Avebury.”

Gorpcore, and the resulting interest in outdoorsy activities, has also paved the way for a new wave of influencers. Growing up close to the mountains of Calgary in Canada, hiking, trail running, skiing, and snowboarding have always been part of 26-year-old Justine Agana’s life. But it wasn't until she started sharing these adventures and accompanying gorpcore fits on social media. “I get a bunch of messages from people who are totally stoked about hiking and looking for tips to get started. It's like the gorpcore trend has sparked this curiosity and inspired them to explore the outdoors in a whole new way,” she says.

Whilst gorpcore clothing tends to come at a higher price point [Arc’teryx’s most popular men’s jackets range from £200 to £850], many of the associated brands are of high quality and design items to last a lifetime. Combine these eco-credentials with the well-documented mental health benefits of spending time outdoors and collective post-COVID technology fatigue and perhaps it's little wonder gorpcore has struck such a tone with Gen-Z. 

Still, it’s rare that even a popular online trend actually crosses the threshold into real life these days, and even rarer that said trend becomes a lifestyle. If last summer was for the feral club rat, then, if the swathes of people flocking to join Common Ground and Gorp Girls are to be believed, this one belongs to the gorpcore guys and girlies who’ve swapped the dingy dancefloor for a deep gulp of fresh air. 

@k3nn3uh @Arc’teryx in the shower yo #fyp ♬ original sound - ㅤ

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