Love wearing a fleece but hate the thought of being five minutes away from a Starbucks? Prefer to observe your scenic views from the comfort of your computer? Then you will be into Snow Peak – the hipster Japanese outdoors shop that is coming to the UK. However, the clothes it sells are styled less for a leisurely ramble over a muddy munro and more for wearing in an ironically captioned selfie, looking a bit weather-worn.
“I wanted to create clothes that are functional, practical but also stylish,” designer Lisa Yamai told Vogue. “I wanted to make outdoor clothes that you wouldn’t just wear at the weekend; clothes you could wear seven days a week, that will make the outdoors feel more familiar.”
Essentially, it is a very different look to the one you would pick up at your local branch of Blacks. Snow Peak is the natural destination for the urbanite who likes to wear a look that suggests they will be asking their nearest and dearest to sponsor a Himalayan hike very, very soon (but almost certainly not doing one).
It sells elevated, high-fashion fishing vests, “outdoor kimonos” and, yes, lots of fleeces. Its aesthetic is very much where utility-wear is now – where luxury meets usefulness and functionality is the new decoration.
As well as being big business (the UK’s outdoor clothing market is valued at £604m and has increased by 22% between 2013 and 2017), luxe shops such as Snow Peak are the bricks-and-mortar endpoint of “gorpcore”, the trend of wearing lots of Patagonia and North Face, alongside your normal jeans and New Balance.
Although the term was coined by the Cut in 2017, it still feels significant in the era of Generation Greta. It is a style that semaphores a healthy and clear objective. “Clothing that fits a purpose and does what it says will always be relevant to men,” Nick Paget, the senior menswear editor at trend-forecasting agency WGSN, said at the time.
But like the power gilet in Succession, the look is also a humble power brag, a sartorial, ever-so-slightly judgey bit of virtue signalling: about being your most Bear Grylls-ish self.
Think of the Jesus Is King -era Kanye West posing in the wilds of his Wyoming farm or Richard Madden on the cover of Interview magazine looking like he is just having a tea break after a spot of drywalling.