Hiking Chic: How Rugged Outdoor Gear Got Onto Fashion Runways
For his spring/summer 2018 collection for the French luxury label Lanvin, designer Lucas Ossendrijver blended his signature relaxed high fashion with items more typically seen on mountainsides: oversize utility shorts with cargo pockets and bungee cord fastenings, hiking pants tricked out with zippers and snaps, fleece jackets, sporty nylon anoraks, and garish, performance-inspired sneakers.
“Personally I like the idea of outdoors but just as an abstract fantasy to start designing,” Ossendrijver says. “I’m not at all into camping or hiking.” Instead, his idea was to create “hybrid” pieces that integrate classic suiting ideas such as a tailored blazer and matching pants with activewear.
Meanwhile, outdoor brand North Face has appeared in recent years in the collections of high-end designers, including Junya Watanabe, Sacai, and buzzy streetwear maker Supreme, which just released a metallic North Face parka. Similarly, Columbia, known for its hard-working sportswear, is teaming up with cool-kid labels Kith and Opening Ceremony. In other words, whether you’re planning on hiking this season, expect to at least look like you are.
“There is a very important conversation about authenticity going on, and those heritage outdoors brands are the epitome of authentic,” says Michael Fisher, vice president and creative director for menswear at the trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops. “They became popular not because of trends but because of how functional and reliable their clothing was over the years. When consumers are being encouraged to buy better and buy less, these brands deserve a seat at the table.”
Fisher says his team has seen a big-picture movement from consumers to embrace nature, brought on by a variety of factors.
“Topics like climate change, the current administration’s change in policy toward protected spaces, and even ecotourism have all driven the conversation when it comes to awareness and appreciation for the great outdoors.” As a result, he adds, items that are “technical” and “cozy” have been seeing higher sales.
For example, VF Corp.—which counts North Face, Timberland, and Vans among its “outdoor and action sports” brands—reported a 20 percent revenue increase in 2017, to $3.6 billion.
With all of this at work, it’s easy to see why these outdoorsy influences were visible in the high-end collections of Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Valentino, and, of course, Lanvin.