From fell walk to catwalk: The rise of the hiking trend.
Outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, and Grenson footwear have transitioned from peak to street and gone are the days waterproof’s were restricted to soggy school trips. Performance wear is high fashion, be it a chunky utility boot via Fendi, Balenciaga or Prada or a walking shoe starting at Salomon and ending in the Jacquemus Terra or Gucci flashtrek.
How did sensible clothes get cool?
The truth is nobody really knows. Just like an avalanche there was a catalyst and the next thing you know Hermes is making a version of your Dad’s old fleece. Be it high fashion or streetwear, both seem obsessed with making non-cool cool. The elevation project, an exercise in arrogance or humour, or a little of both, has seen no stone unturned. It all started with normcore, and ended in the fashion croc. Crocs, who knew?
Back to ‘gorpcore’ and no doubt the trend has been inspired by the drive to get outdoors, the wellness wave and an altogether healthier youth culture. Athleisure wear has gone mainstream and the shift seems underpinned by designers finally celebrating clothes that work.
With the stratospheric rise of streetwear and fashion’s infatuation with all things ordinary, it’s no surprise performance wear is well, out- performing.
Perhaps we grew tired of squeezing into clothing made for sample size models with no adaptability for real life. It’s no wonder we’re excited by warm things with style, and pockets.
Practicality never looked so good!
Credits: Canada Goose
What to wear?
Opt for a single high tech piece or go the full shebang - When big labels are going head to Canada Goose hurricane proof, there’s no reason not to pop to the shops in layer on layer techwear. Start with an all weather essential and invest in a good quality jacket or coat. Performance outerwear is a must in everyone's wardrobe. From puffer jackets to anorak, cagoule to windbreaker, shell jacket to Parka, there are so many different weights and styles suitable for any season. For when it’s really cold think ski or down or check out military gear- defence has always invested in innovative technology and produces garments made to withstand more than just snow!
Credits: The North Face X Gucci
When it comes to styling, the rules got lost in the snow. Do as you please. Stick to a jacket and jeans or combine a waterproof shell with waterproof pants, panelled track bottoms, cargo pants or joggers. Mix up performance-wear with tailoring, pairing an insulated parka with wide leg trousers or bootcut flares, or team a hooded down jacket with a mini skirt or even shorts! Ever since the puffer entered the wardrobe of the fashion elite, blending high and low is nothing new. Whether it's casual on casual or practical on formal, a stand out piece will do the talking.
Blizzard proof shell jacket sorted, next thing is the layers. For the base you're all good with a classic t shirt, long sleeve or waffle for added insulation. Next is the daddy of all the middle layers, the undisputed king of heat- the fleece. Whilst not everyone is a convert, there’s no denying the humble fleece is back and here to stay. But if you’re not quite at ‘fleece as jacket’ with a printed bomber style (JW Anderson, Kapital) choose a lightweight version for performance alone. Fashion fleece a no no?- opt for a heritage knit and let nature keep you warm with the original fleece: wool.
If you can't bare sleeve on sleeve, add an extra layer with a gilet or body warmer and don’t pack away for summer. Keep to hand for layering on cool summer nights.
If you're thinking single layers opt for a warm shirt with a classic Pendleton, heavy cord, padded plaid or versatile flannel. Or keep it street with a classic sweatshirt or hoody.
Practical dressing is all in the detail, so think performance textile, pockets galore, drawstrings, toggles, zips and accessories. You need to look prepared, even if you only need one pocket for your bank card.
Collabs between designers and outdoor brands have been rife, with luxury stores littered with more gor-tex than an Everest base camp. North face has been around the block, teaming up with Adidas, then Prada, Maison Margiela and Supreme (to name a few!). Arc'teryx, a Canadian mountaineering label has gone from performing on icy crevices to the stages of Asap Rocky and Travis Scoot, via Off- White and Jill Sander.
Woolrich, Snow Peak and even Columbia have jumped from one man tent to realms of uber-cool, producing limited collections more suited to Dover Street Market than the 3 peaks challenge.
Credits: The North Face X Supreme, The North Face X Gucci
On to another ‘who knew;’ and we arrived at none other than the trail shoe. Call it trail runner, hiking or approach shoe, these masters of practicality never won a beauty contest. But back in the mid 2010’s, Salomon started to show up on the shelves of cult boutiques. Now at peak street, the lightweight breathable shoe (La Sportiva, Merrrell) has joined the repertoire of the respected, and the geography teacher classic is now a perfectly reasonable replacement for your AF1’s.
For a sturdier option go for a chunky lace up or chelsea boot, with styles abundant, a classic timeless hiking boot will be worn for life. Warmer than a wellie and with a little more panache, a good boot is at home in the city as it is on the tracks. If you’re struggling to find your perfect pair, browse vintage military boots for quality and affordability.
In warmer weather’s think trek sandals, the fash-pack favourite and ideal for hot city streets. And when it comes to hats, performance headgear is nothing new here. Beanies, buckets, caps and and now trapper hats, you’re not storm ready without a cherry on top.
Finally, bags. Crossbody, bumbag, rucksack, haversack or duffle. A good hiking bag needs to number 1: stay on and number 2: provide ample compartments for your survival stash.
Brands to know
Start with The North Face, the godfather of Mountain wear hailing back to the 1960s. Founded by Eddie Bauer, and inventors of the down jacket, North Face is the brand for performance outerwear. If you're looking for fleece there’s no better than the iconic Patagonia, the dons of polar fleece with serious sustainable credentials and an incredible story. Vancouver brand Arc'teryx have perfected serious weather staples, from hard shell jackets fit for snow storms to sleeker silhouettes basing form and function.
Head to the snowy north where Swedish brands such as Houdini, Haglofs and Fjällräven know how to merge Scandinavian design with hard weather performance. Or think Japanese cool with Snow Peak, Montbell or the trendy American Japanese fusion Columbia black label.
For temperatures below zero there’s classic down parkas from Canada Goose and the darling of the slopes, Italian designer ski wear from luxury label Moncler. Swiss label Mammut is one of the elders in the field, and you can’t get more tech than the company responsible for the climbing rope.
Despite the names, both Berghaus and Montane originated in the UK so if you're sticking to home soils why not channel that school trip self with a good old anorak and craghopper boots.
Whether trekking in Helly Hansen or trailing in Teva, Rokit is a one stop destination for preloved and vintage all weather wear.