What is the purpose of luxury outdoor equipment?

The flirtation of the world of luxury with outdoor gear has become a complete business.

Ever since Gucci partnered with The North Face in 2019, creating designer duvets, hiking backpacks, and even logo tents, high fashion brands including Loewe, Balenciaga and Prada have followed suit in producing threesomes and foursome outdoor clothing. digits. Items originally intended for exploration, like Arc’teryx jackets and Salomon hiking sneakers, now challenge Brooklyn neighborhoods as much as the great outdoors.

Practical and post-quarantine styles have become favorites despite their impractical price tags. With wellness and comfort taking priority in fashion, luxury shoppers seem to discover garments that outdoor enthusiasts have known well for decades, albeit now with ridiculous price tags and designer logos attached. There’s a sense of irony in paying $ 3,400 for a down jacket or $ 1,000 for a hiking sandal considering you don’t even have to afford access to the outdoors. In fact, bona fide outdoor brands, including The North Face and Patagonia, have worked to make outdoor activities more accessible.

Those who indulge in more expensive outdoor gear are more likely to glamp on the Amalfi Coast, relax at five-star resorts, or, as celebrities like Frank Ocean, Bella Hadid and Drake have shown, not to wear outdoor pieces at all. is open outdoors. Instead, designer outdoor clothing lends its aspect of utility and normality to those who are anything but. The pieces say I am just like youwhile luxury logos add, except they are not.

The big fake doors

Prada countryside outdoors


When outdoor gear started trending in 2017, nicknamed “gorpcore” by Cutting – its function was still a strong point. People with no previous outdoor experience, especially urban consumers, have realized the practicality of gorp: hiking shoes have doubled as comfortable running sneakers; lined rain jackets made for excellent protection from splashes at intersections; and cargo pants offered a way to keep your belongings close at hand. Shoppers wanted garments that worked for their lifestyle, regardless of their intended use.

Of course, the sleek and technological aspect of outdoor clothing has only increased its popularity. By 2020, gorp had been adopted by streetwear brands including Brain Dead and Stüssy, as traditional outdoor labels began to embrace their new consumers through collaborations. Function was still a primary focus for shoppers, but bold designs and celebrity endorsement emphasized the look of outdoor apparel.

Luxury logos have completely transformed the pieces from gorp to grail. Outdoor experts like Patagonia or Nike All Conditions Gear were rejected by some in favor of the flashy brand of Gucci, Prada or Dior. The noble pieces still flaunt practical aspects, but their purpose (and price) are based more on appearance than action. Why would a true outdoor enthusiast want a Gucci x The North Face down jacket when the same TNF jacket was available for a tenth the price without logos?

Go (spend) green

Gucci x The North Face camping collection


For those who have the privilege of taking part in the trend, outdoor clothing is an aesthetic and nothing more. Who wants to get dirty and dirty in a Prada fishing jacket if it can only be dry cleaned? Why bother camping in a regular tent when you could take Instagram photos outside the one decorated with the Gucci logos?

Without such a whimsical branding, outdoor gear should be about the experience people have while wearing it. There’s a reason Canada Goose offers in-store cold storage for customers to test jackets, and Moncler tests its jackets in the field with famous explorers like Michele Pontrandolfo. The gorp luxury pieces simply offer a more frivolous experience, one more suited to those who use “summer” as a verb and not as a noun.

Essentially, outdoor equipment is more about being green than about green shopping. The pieces are designed to withstand both bad weather and time; they are not a tendency to rotate for something new after a few weeks. And as studies show, the average outdoor enthusiast is interested in sustainability – some people wear their gear on the ground, while others shy away from companies that don’t follow eco-friendly practices.

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 17: Frank Ocean wears an orange puffer jacket, an Arc'Teryx cap, ...

Frank Ocean wears an Arc’teryx hat and jacket to a Louis Vuitton Paris Fashion Week show. Edward Berthelot / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

For brands focused on the outdoors, sustainable efforts are matched by both the company and customers. Patagonia famously operates as an environmental advocacy group, denouncing excessive consumption on Black Friday and stripping off corporate logos that don’t align with its eco-conscious message. Through its Renewed program, The North Face repairs and renews used or damaged garments so they can be reused. But sustainability is lacking for brands that promote technical clothing.

There is nothing from luxury outdoor equipment that actually celebrate the outdoors.

While Prada Outdoor’s Mountain collection uses recycled materials, many of its products are made from nylon that produces nitrous oxide, which is difficult to sustainably reuse. Polyester garments make up more than half of Gucci’s collection with The North Face, offering lasting waterproofing but a significant negative environmental impact during production, use and disposal. Balenciaga’s retro rain jackets also use hazardous chemicals like water-resistant PFCs, polyfluorinated chemicals found everywhere from our rivers to polar bear livers.

There is nothing in luxury outdoor gear that truly celebrates the outdoors. Like most design products, it’s more of a perceived idea, a surface-level analysis of how the rich think they spend time outdoors. And while the one percent continue to explore the fake doors, the rest of us will actually be on the outside, looking in.

🏕 The Great Outdoors: Your guide to exploring everything our beautiful planet has to offer even if it means still being online (sometimes).