February 3, 2023 | OPINION | By Maddie Mollerus
Colorado College is undoubtedly quirky. From the Block Plan to the high concentration of people who rock climb, it’s hard to confuse CC with any other school. Even the way students dress is different (or at least different from what I, an East Coaster, am used to). You know, the look-like-you-could-go-straight-from-class-to-a-hike aesthetic.
I feel like the “earthy, crunchy, granola” descriptions have earned a bad rap over the past few years, painting us outdoorsy folk as vegan hippies who favor bare feet over shoes and sing songs around campfires nightly. While that may have been one of my Block Breaks, I think we’re more sophisticated than those descriptions. Enter a new term: Gorpcore.
While I wish I was the one to come up with this term, “Gorpcore” was coined by journalist Jason Chen in 2017. An extension of the acronym for “Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts,” Gorpcore describes a pop culture-induced clothing style focused around wearing utilitarian, functional, and outdoors-inspired gear. Birkenstocks with colorful socks. Patagonia everything. Cargo pants with zippers at the knees. Bright orange puffer coats.
All those things should sound familiar, because you’ve probably seen them (or worn them!) at CC. Willa Frantzis ‘23 describes CC style, “I see a lot of earthy tones and oversized styles… Also lots of layers, like long sleeves under t-shirts and sweatshirts.” Gorpcore to a T.
Gorpcore also consists of voluminous, boxy silhouettes; drawstrings or elastic that cinch at the waist, ankles, or wrists; and logos, most often on the left chest. (Is a Melanzana even a Melanzana if it doesn’t say “Melanzana?”)
Before I knew what Gorpcore was, I thought that this style existed only in our CC bubble. But when I learned about it, I realized that it’s widespread.
Not only are North Face and Patagonia nationwide staples on college campuses and high schools, but Gorpcore has reached the upper echelons of society. A$AP Rocky and Frank Ocean have turned it into streetstyle. Prada heavily channeled Gorpcore in their Spring 2017 Menswear show, pairing socks and sandals and hiking backpacks with anything from tailored suits to anoraks and thermal leggings.
But one thing sets us CC students apart from the rest of the Gorpcore wearers. Jason Chen says that the purpose of Gorpcore is to show people that you’re outdoorsy, even if you’re not. That you like camping, even if you live in the city and only step foot in the woods once a year. It’s cosplay. Conversely, CC students don’t need clothing to prove that they’re into spending time in nature. The very fabric of our school is made up of a passion for outdoor activities, environmental advocacy, and going out into the wilderness.
Gorpcore may just be a passing fad for some, but for CC students, it will always be normcore.