Gorpcore, scumbro or fugly?
What should the fashionable fella be wearing this season? At a time when it definitely ain’t stylish to be stylish, jon wall offers his views on the current men’s collections
turn to the Catwalk pages of this Runway supplement and you’ll get a fair idea of how the fashion industry reckons men should be dressing this winter. Judging from some of these images, we fellas will have the opportunity variously to outfit ourselves like a fireman, a secret policeman, a hiker, a biker, an athlete, a camper or a cowboy – or perhaps in a mash-up of a couple (or even all) of these looks, which really does get the mind boggling. Each style in its own way is certainly arresting, but I’m still trying to get my head around how any of them will be even remotely appropriate to a place like Hong Kong. Prada, for example, has reached back to the 1990s for inspiration and, in a stroke of sheer genius, come up with a nylon bucket hat. It’s the kind of accessory I vaguely remember seeing a youthful David Beckham wearing in his early days at Manchester United, though one I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t be seen dead in now. For the full fugly, however, which is definitely one way to go this autumn/winter, you’ll want to pair it with a nylon Prada outfit, pseudo-utilitarian workwear that should comfortably protect you from whatever elements the weather sees fit to throw at you (best wait for next year’s typhoon season?) and, if embellished with reflective stripes, could even help prevent you from being flattened by a bus if the street lighting goes down. Naturally Prada prominently slapped its logo on to the hat, but then branding is absolutely de rigueur across the full spectrum of fashion this season, with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Fendi going so far as to cover their wearers in monogramming, which is fine if dressing like a steamer trunk happens to be your thing. Layering and lots of it is also big, as are shoulders – as in big shoulders. I admit that layering can look cool, though generally not if you live between the 23rd parallels, where breaking into a sweat at even the slightest movement can in no way be considered acceptable and especially not in winter. As for the shoulders, that’s surely a nod to the ’80s, when men were men and doorways were things we had to be careful not to get wedged into – though I suppose we could always call the fire brigade (clad, naturally, in this season’s Burberry or Calvin Klein) to pull us out. As The Cut revealed back in 2017, the new normcore is, in fact, gorpcore, which is based around notions that “nothing’s more stylish than clothes that aren’t stylish” (the term “gorp”, as you were surely wondering, possibly deriving from “good old
raisins and peanuts”). Fashion Journal hit back, saying this was “the latest stupid trend no one needed”, with Vogue.com more recently rendering that conversation irrelevant by asking, “Has warcore replaced normcore in fashion?” Profundities such as these are beyond us, but we’re happy to live with gorpcore for the moment, not least because it conveniently leads to our next current trend: the urban hiker. For that you’ll be wearing oversize Gucci, Giorgio Armani or Louis Vuitton boots, whose construction from posh leathers, suede and fabric (not to mention the sizeable chunk of wedge you just dropped on them) means they’re less Dragon’s Back than dragon-I. To ward off the elements you’ll also be needing a weapons-grade cagoule, anorak or puffer jacket courtesy of Balenciaga, Lanvin, Vetements or Boss, all rigorously tested in the Alps though equally at home in Admiralty. My own favourite variation on protective wear, however, comes from Craig Green, who for now appears to have abandoned the Bedouin-tent schtick he recently championed. Instead, for his 5 Moncler Craig Green collaboration with the fashionable Italian manufacturer of winter outerwear, the talented British designer has reimagined the humble padded jacket as a cross between samurai armour and a full-body floatation suit, which would definitely come in handy on a drunken New Year’s Eve junk trip. Thanks to US labels such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, the cowboy is also back in vogue – though of that I can only say that I have no more inclination to go west now than I had, as an eight-year-old, to dress up as Roy Rogers. So, no gunslinger cosplay for me this winter – but I am starting to like the Western theme more when it overlaps into leather. In fact, there’s some especially must-have garb fashioned from hide in the current collections, not least Cerruti 1881’s long belted overcoat in brown – a very now colour – leather and the immensely cool three-piece biker suit by Arashi Yanagawa, aka John Lawrence Sullivan, that was shown in London in June (true, I’d never get away with that in a million years, but I do know a couple of guys who could). Indeed, retro biker chic is all the rage (check some of the latest Belstaff looks, for example), but when has it not been? Which brings us to another autumn/winter 2018 fashion trope that – so long as regular travel to colder climes features on the agenda – really should figure in a man’s wardrobe. I’m talking, of course, about a decent shearling coat or jacket – à la Salvatore Ferragamo or Giorgio Armani – an item that, contrary to the prevailing ephemeral and contrarian ethos, can look impossibly stylish (and even, God forbid, last for years). And that, I suppose (because it really isn’t rocket science), is the conundrum about the current men’s fashion trends. The fact is, we already know what looks good on guys – and that will rarely be outfits on which we’ve forked out a small fortune, only to ask ourselves a few years down the line: how on Earth could I have been seen wearing that? Yes, we all get the premise that, in order for creativity to thrive, rules have to be broken. But I’m nonetheless betting that 50 years from now we’ll still reckon Sean Connery’s James Bond is the apotheosis of cool, just as – much as we do now – we’ll look at a photo of Justin Bieber (in the unlikely event he’s remembered at all) circa 2018, bursting with BDE (big dick energy) and dressed full-scumbro in oversize graphic T-shirt, tracksuit bottoms, daft hat and designer mountain boots, and think, “What a knob.”
Clockwise from opposite: 5 Moncler Craig Green, Calvin Klein, Prada, Giorgio Armani and Prada
Salvatore Ferragamo (near right) and Louis Vuitton