Spike Lee, Timothee Chalamet, Frank Ocean and others in techwear. Photo: Mark Sagliocco/GC Images, Edward Berthelot/Getty Images, Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Louis Vuitton
Chunky outdoor jackets were once the preserve of skiers and doomsday preppers, but techwear in its many guises now permeates streetwear like never before. It’s edged its way in since A$AP Rocky went full tech dad at New York Fashion Week 2017, year by year, and now there are enthusiasts for every possible sub-genre of technical clothing going (warcore, anyone)?
Brands today run the gamut of fashion, from high-concept to accessible and avant-garde to terrace culture. Your gorpcore choices aren’t even limited to bold, primary-coloured clobber created with only a lovely Lake District hike in mind anymore. If you’ve ever wanted to survive a nuclear winter, say, or speak to non-English speakers in their native tongue while in a spacesuit, there’ll be a Ukrainian-made techwear piece for you.As the landscape is awash with so many brands, each with their own connotations, it can be hard to know what it means when a mate sidles up wearing a French-sounding jacket that looks like a life raft and everyone silently nods in approval. So whether you know your Mammut from your Marmot and can expound on the difference between Arnar Mar Jonsson and Arcteryx, we run through what your favourite techwear brand says about you below.
You are the milquetoast centrist of the techwear world. You’re obviously brand-aware, but in a myopic way, like how a cat is brand-aware of its preferred kibble. Your jacket is the “jeans and sheux” of the high-spec space – extremely powerful, sure, but played out – and you are a reliable driver with your car keys definitely attached to a lanyard.
The North Face
You are someone who appreciates high-value items and, by extension, regards yourself as a high-value person. You holiday in excellent Euro destinations multiple times per year because you are in the “power” phase of your life – a phase you may never relinquish due to your immense wealth and the indeterminate support structures that got you there in the first place. Your Arcteryx jacket is spiritually analogous now to faux legacy British labels like Jack Wills due to its popularity. You are a well-off estate agent, aggressive timekeeper or gorgeous gorgeous girl with your colour-coordinated offspring in tow.
The pockets! The pockets alone say that you wish to live in the future, a preferred future in which everything – even carpets – have helpful pockets. You are a freak with high cheekbones.
Arnar Mar Jonsson
You are a wholesome tobacco-smoking person with the joie de vivre of a thousand Chilean geese. You are a friendly, good-natured chiller steeped in massive debt who’s been around the world a bit. You used to be in Clapton but now you live in Walthamstow “and it’s actually really nice!”
You are active in your dastardly shoes and you document that rugged activity via intoxicating aspirational posts. You like your Salomons as you consider them to be a more fashionable Shelbyville Merrell. As ever, there’s a sliding scale: Some of you wear them among a number of other trainers, and some of you wear them constantly. Hard to explain but, psychically, you donning these 24/7 is like wearing Total 90s all the time in the early-mid 00s (which was good too).
If you pay £2,200 on a billowing alien jacket and £800 on a technical scarf, then I admit that I have no real understanding of who you are and what gets you going. Presumably nothing good :)
Post Archive Faction
You are involved in football terrace culture, or are a middle-aged man with a formative love of Italia 90 and an extensive Balearic record collection. You follow the heroic life and times of Luke Una closely on Insta. You post ‘Stoney’ memes of Joseph of Nazareth (A) in a manger and tweet “your girlfriend…” jokes on football Twitter.
You are a geography dad, a young neckbeard or a bespectacled and politically engaged woman. Merrell shoes are actually incredibly pervasive and were once thought of as the real anti-sex shoe, but these puppies scream tasty veggie options and comfort over image. The true spirit of England is frowning, uppity middle-aged couples sporting Merrells as they negotiate undulating country terrain in dogshit weather.
You are enamoured with gorpcore and what it represents. You’ve finally found your “adult look”. You have a delightful dog now and a different tote for each day of the week.
You are very interested in attaining an outdoorsy vibe through outfit alone. You traverse London for plausible settings in which to exude Master of the Universe energy in your Insta posts before popping into Pret and Ubering home.
You live in Peckham and you’re “really killing it” with your design job, but you know you’ll never go hiking with those colourful numbers on. Lovely clobber, though. You are probably a Scorpio.
You’re out with your mates and you’re wearing the goggle jacket and you pull the hood over your face and you’re laughing, and you’re all laughing, and now you’re dancing, and everyone’s moving distinctly but together, in and out of spaces, one solid-liquid. And everyone’s saying how sick the goggles look, and you say something but you can’t hear yourself. But you’re smiling, everyone’s smiling, and the music’s loud, and you cry a bit but that’s fine because it’s dark and you’ve got the goggles on, and nothing bad could ever happen here. And then you make it home and wake up in a hospital bed: You slipped and fell immediately after fucking around with the goggles.
You work in cyber and took umbrage at that government ad. You find your militaristic camo-adjacent garb transitions neatly from work to play, from the desk to the loft party. You live in Hackney Wick and occasionally chime in with spiky comments on the locals’ Facebook group about how it’s changing. You somehow steer all conversations back to NFTs. @niche_t_