With the global outdoor clothing market value forecast to reach $19.6bn by 2026 as reported by Statista, there's no time to pause on this growing sector.
As Gorpcore influences are permeating through mass market assortments, we reveal seven key insights to help you navigate this space.
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1. It's a key growth driver
Born out of the pandemic, Gorpcore was fuelled by a newfound appreciation among consumers for incorporating nature into their lifestyles and long-term hobbies. According to the UK Environment Agency, the average person in the UK plans to spend 14 hours outdoors during a typical week over the summer, with bird-watching, gardening and fishing emerging as activities of growing interest among the population.
Retailers have been quick to capitalize on the Great Outdoors trend, identifying the market as a key opportunity in recent financial statements. Kohl's anticipates top line growth for 2021 through expanding its outdoor active range with brands like Land's End and Eddie Bauer, while VF Corp has slated outdoor to increase in revenue between 23-25% in its projections for the 2022 fiscal year. Meanwhile, Deckers saw revenue increase by 19.4% to a record $2.546 bn during its 2021 fiscal year, led by global growth of its athletic shoe brand, Hoka One One.
Images via Hoka One One
2. Adjustable features are integral
Comfort emerges as a priority across core industry players, alongside adjustable and functional elements such as zips, hoods and pockets. Hiking surfaces as the most mentioned activity within product descriptions, noted in 3/4 of our analyzed brands' top ten descriptors. Elsewhere, lightweight properties stand out at Arc'teryx, stretch and wicking technology at Columbia, recycled materials and water-repellent technology at Patagonia and branding at The North Face.
3. Mass retailers have upped their stakes
Following the appearance of fleece jackets, tread sole boots and even water bottles on the runway, high street brands have quickly jumped on the Gorpcore trend, increasing their product share in items like gilets and performance leggings, which have seen strong growth YoY.
Free People and Madewell are of particular note. The former is offering fully-formed hiking and camping assortments, while the latter has teamed up with Parks Project on a range of souvenir-style merchandise honoring America's beauty spots. The brand has also contributed $10,000 to the National Parks Conservation Association as a token.
Images via Free People and Madewell
4. Outdoor themes featured in campaigns
Urban Outfitters - camping season
The retailer sent a camping-themed email showcasing a breadth of lines suitable for the activity in time for the upcoming staycation season. Products included Teva sandals, trail shorts, bucket hats and functional backpacks.
Timberland - National Boot Day
To celebrate National Boot Day (Apr 13th), the brand encouraged consumer engagement on social media by sharing customer posts. Events should be leveraged to entice purchases and outdoor exploration. For instance, National Take A Hike Day falls on Nov 17th.
Fashion Nova - repositioning loungewear
Drawing on the versatility of core lines and showing alternative uses of loungewear, the fashion-forward label pushed seamless bike shorts and crop tops suitable for "a hike and a picnic" alongside knit sneakers and a bucket hat.
Hush - alternative activities
The retailer celebrated the outdoors by profiling three activities, spanning wild swimming, longboard dancing and hillwalking, alongside pushing its activewear. The growing wild swimming movement is also an opportunity for swimwear promotions.
Images via Urban Outfitters Email US - Jun 15, 2021; Timberland Email US - Apr 13, 2021; Fashion Nova Email US - Apr 15, 2021; Hush Email UK - Apr 9, 2021
5. Capture demand through drop-downs
Despite the growing popularity of outdoorwear in the women's market and the rise of activities such as hiking, fishing and birdwatching, few non-specialist retailers are offering clear site navigation for customers seeking outdoor-specific lines. This may result in lost sales and the chance to drive basket spend by promoting add-on products.
Adidas currently offers hiking and outdoor as an option under its women's sports and shoe menus. The landing page is divided into hiking, trail running, climbing, mountain biking and winter sports, enabling customers to find their desired end-use with ease. Free People has a dedicated Camp Shop page offering outdoor essentials, showcasing its array of adventure-ready merchandise.
Images via adidas women's outdoor landing page - Jun 15, 2021
6. Spotlight on skiwear
Consumer bookings are soaring
With ski holidays disrupted across the 2020/21 season, travel companies report high demand for peak-time ski trips next winter. The all-inclusive resort Club Med revealed that bookings were up 133% within 24 hours of trips for 2021/22 being available. As consumers continue to reconnect with nature and explore new activities outdoors, this may open up the sport to a new audience.
Skicore was a focus on the FW21 runway
From quilted puffer jackets and knitted balaclavas at Miu Miu to aprés-ski ready loungewear at Iceberg, a host of designers championed slope-ready ensembles in their fall presentations - enter skicore. Chanel's collection featured salopettes and was inspired by winter sports.
Promote versatile lines
To help maximize the sell-through potential of products, retailers should consider repositioning lines that can double up as appropriate for the ski season. Cold weather inventory that is functional and fashion-forward has had a versatile selling span over the past year. Highlight technical and comfort properties in related winter edits.
Build the story
Core: puffer jackets • beanies • turtlenecks
Commercial: thermal leggings & tops • elevated loungewear
Directional: knit balaclavas • moon boots • sports-inspired sunglasses
Images via Imaxtree - Miu Miu Fall 2021; Imaxtree - Iceberg Fall 2021; Imaxtree - Chanel Fall 2021
7. Next in outdoors - The seaside revival
Gorpcore has been the leading theme for outdoors-themed inspired collections to date. However, aquatic influences are now bubbling up as the next big thing. Get ahead of the pack and diversify your offering for 2022 with our demographic focused guide.
Lead with affordable, high-trend products for this demographic, who will be more about the look than the lifestyle. Bright colors and bold patterns are paramount, referencing the success of psychedelics for SS21, as well as Versace's influential Under The Sea collection. Style open Bermuda shirts over bikinis and swim shorts, accessorizing with add-ons of playful, bohemian jewelry such as chokers, shells and beads. Tap into TikTok subcultures, Coconut Girl and Mermaidcore, to best capture this market, channeling 90s nostalgia and beachy beauty. Be sure to harness the vacation aspect of this theme by merchandising within Ibiza edits.
Images via Imaxtree - Nina Ricci Pre-Spring 2022, Instagram - Dua Lipa, Instagram - Justin Bieber
Thanks to the newfound benefit of hybrid working, this cohort is the most likely to adopt coastal living as a lifestyle as they look to escape to more affordable, slower-paced towns and cities. The fitness and sports element is critical here, but trends are still important and will influence decisions. Look to achieve a middle ground between functional and fashionable, pairing seasonal color palettes and silhouettes with high-performance materials and products. This consumer set will have more to spend on high ticket investment items, such as technical fabrics and post-swim drying robes.
Images via Imaxtree - Celine Fall 2021, Imaxtree - Moschino Pre-Spring 2022; Imaxtree - Stella McCartney Pre-Spring 2022
This generation is focused on spending quality time with friends and family, enjoying life's simple pleasures - nature being top of the list. The classic Breton is an essential investment for those catering to this market, alongside comfortable staples such as chinos and boat shoes. Anti-aging products are vital, from high coverage sun lotion to SPF-infused beauty products. Modest silhouettes and shaping technologies are also key, providing support and confidence for older shoppers who want to feel their best. Nautical palettes of navy, red and white should form the baseline of your assortment.
Images via Arket, Unsplash - Audrey Fretz, Zalando
Contributions by Retail Analysts Aoife Byrne and Katharine Carter.
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