With none of the usual fabulous parties to go to in 2020, the fashion world — like everyone else — has turned to the great outdoors to stay sane during the pandemic.
Now, we are seeing just how profound those lifestyle changes can be on the direction of fashion. Today, Gucci revealed its collaboration with North Face, a highly-anticipated partnership that not only capitalizes on the current, situation-induced trend but also hints at how high fashion brands might better cater to the real-life needs, ideals and habits of its customers in the future.
After all, the haute hiker trend was not just born of the pandemic. Even back in 2018, Gucci’s Flashtrek sneaker mimicked the textures and materials of a traditional hiker (save for the removable crystal harness). Its spring ’19 collection featured a sneaker-sandal hybrid that bared a striking resemblance to outdoor brand Keen’s popular Newport water sandal (the company responded to a campaign image of the fashion shoe with its own witty image featuring the Newports).
Elsewhere, brands like Kith and Supreme have worked with Adidas Outdoor and The North Face, respectively. And designers like Salehe Bembury (2020 FNAA Designer of the Year) have redefined what outdoor product looks like — and have helped to make it more inclusive to minority customers.
Clearly, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has had the great outdoors — and the footwear needed to explore it — on his mind for a few years now. The new North Face collaboration, which will first debut in stores in China before hitting the U.S. on January 6, takes things up a few notches primarily by giving technical legitimacy to Gucci’s fashion pieces.
The gender-neutral hiking boot has an old-school Goodyear-welted sole, but it’s done with a sturdy, chunky tread (rope-like laces and oversized eyelets finish it off).
Elsewhere, fleece jackets, windbreakers, nylon shirts and other garments take inspiration directly from ’70s designs from The North Face archives. And the luggage, which includes backpacks and belt bags, uses the recycled-nylon fabric Econyl.
The bags feature a variation on Gucci house motifs and also incorporate the collaboration’s new logo — which is sure to quickly become a status symbol in 2021. While the pieces still veer on the fashion side of things (who wears skirts while hiking?), the collaboration will likely have an impact on the outdoor market as well, as it continues to explore its new territory.