Woman tying Salomon shoe

    Exploring the Evolution of Functional Fashion in the UK

    The GORE-TEX Brand's Impact on Fashion and City Life

    For the third installation of the GORE-TEX Roadshow, the GORE-TEX Brand and Beinghunted. introduced a host, 114.index, to give deeper insights on the region. 114.index is a true local aficionado with a profound expertise in functional outerwear and street style. Hailing from Glasgow and currently based in Manchester, Lewis, they bring a unique perspective shaped by firsthand experiences in key areas of the UK, laying the foundation for the contemporary allure of functional clothing. 114.index has created an overview on the local scene and the historical come up of functional garments in the UK.

    For nearly 50 years, W. L. Gore fabrics have been protecting their wearers from the elements. The cult status of the performance fabric was recontextualised beyond just outdoor enthusiasts throughout the latter stages of the 20th century. This new wave of interest in the GORE-TEX Brand was popularised by a who’s who of A-listers and it hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. Outdoor fabric, inner-city use. Or at least, for most people that’s how it tends to be these days, especially with the inescapable outdoor-lifestyle boom which has gripped the fashion world, influenced streetwear trends and thrust a new wave of outdoor lovers onto hillsides and trails.

    In doing so, GORE-TEX garments have remained at the top of the functional clothing pyramid. Pair this with the most premium brands globally using W. L. Gore’s product technologies like GORE-TEX PRO, PACLITE®, WINDSTOPPER® by GORE-TEX Labs and it's a badge of honour for the trend savvy or fashionable city-goer.

    Different countries adopt different styles though, with cities possessing their own niche identities too. New York City is a prime example, Hip-Hop culture has long waxed lyrical about adorning GORE-TEX products, whereas cities like Glasgow whose occupants live in a damp and soggy climate year-round have had GORE-TEX products ingrained into day-to-day city style long before any trends gripped the city. Much the same can be said for the rest of the UK, especially in the north in cities like Manchester, where GORE-TEX products have transcended trends for over three decades. Think the illegal Rave scene boom, Football Hooligan and Terrace culture, and of course the Britpop explosion onto the world stage.

    The UK has some of the richest and most diverse cultures - and subcultures - internationally. Of course, London has a huge amount of eyes on it when it comes to trends. The current UK music scene has conceived some of the biggest stylistic idols recently, with drill and UK rap artists flaunting their rooted-on-road style on the front rows of fashion week runways to main stages at US festivals. In years past it was big Grime MC’s like Skepta shutting down these shows in a black tracksuit and functional, comfortable garments which you could say has paved the way for this style to become one of the biggest trend exports recently.

    Turn your eyes north, however, and you’ll be graced with views of Manchester’s ever-vibrant street style. A style that has been epitomised by the grey rain clouds which linger over the city's skyline nearly 24/7 and the say-it-like-it-is attitude of Mancunians and Northerners alike. Function definitely precedes form here, where the oversized Berghaus GORE-TEX parkas adorned by Oasis’ Liam Gallagher and football fans lingering on Terraces weren’t just a show piece. The saying, “it’s grim up North” wasn't made up. The weather has played a major influence, alongside the accessibility to picturesque outdoor havens. 

    The weather changes, with sudden downpours… I blame my friends in Manchester as they have been obsessed with GORE-TEX for 35 years as it always rains up there.

    Portrait of Adrian Darby
    Adrian Darby

    Beyond Hadrian’s Wall and Scottish Border lies a vast land of outdoor enthusiasts dreams, there’s a few cities dotted around too. One that’s often compared to Manchester, Glasgow is filled with some of the friendliest but straight-talking folks you’ll meet - so say the tourists at least. There’s parallels in weather to the north of England too, where outdoor and functional clothing has routinely crossed the threshold of street style beyond the munro baggers and avid wild campers. Glasgow youth culture has for years held the Berghaus Mera Peak jacket as a trophy among peers. Mention it to anyone in their early twenties and beyond, there’ll likely be a story surrounding this iconic piece featuring GORE-TEX product technology.

    The UK installation of the GORE-TEX Products Roadshow showcases some of the unique identities in the United Kingdom through London, Manchester and Glasgow - three cities which are known globally for different reasons and harbour three very different kinds of people and attitudes. Individuals are able to showcase many different kinds of GORE-TEX products by communicating their personal style and giving us a brief insight into pushing forward in their field, from their own unique viewpoint. Throughout the Roadshow, these individuals told their story and were pictured in locations of their choosing, with a shared affinity for the GORE-TEX Brand.

    Through their stories, we understand that functional clothing and the outdoors are not mutually exclusive. Those who live in cities rely on functionality just as much as those who spend the majority of their time in rural or alpine settings. But it does feel like this is something which has been fully realized only in recent years. Gone are the classic cotton longline raincoats, replaced by GORE-TEX garment counterparts which breathe better and block out that biting winter wind.

    Much the same can be said about GORE-TEX footwear, with a plethora of current brands offering extensive options to guarantee your feet stay dry. GORE-TEX membranes in footwear have almost become the norm now and it’ll be a rarity that you speak to anyone interested in functional clothing or an active lifestyle who doesn’t have at least one or two pairs. Current trends have catapulted trail and trek ready footwear onto the streets, think HOKA, for example. Silhouettes like the Tor Ultra Low (and High), the Tecton X or Speedgoat 5 will likely be in rotation for those in the know, which today is most of us. Collaborations on the brands’ popular models have greatly amplified the visibility of HOKA, and similar competitors alike. You’ll struggle to find someone who hasn’t heard of Salomon at this point, right?

    Through brands offering more variety of practical clothing, the concept of practicality and functionality has become more accessible. Gone are the days where you had to compromise on either looking good and feeling comfortable.

    Robyn Orrett standing in the street
    Robyn Orrett

    It isn’t just about the technical footwear when it comes to GORE-TEX products, though, with many of the more classic footwear manufacturers splicing technical membranes with old school suedes. Clark’s Originals range has given their Wallabee a real leg up with the equipping of GORE-TEX brand, which has seen a considered approach through collaborators such as Japanese giants BEAMS and Nanamica who remain true to their classic, Americana inspired styles, continually bringing an elevated vintage flavour to the streets.

    Modern city life has brought about a new-lifestyle approach to functionality, with much more clued-in consumers too. Everyone seems to have their own story or take on functional clothing now. How they realised they would benefit from it, how it made their daily movements easier, or how it made them think more about sustainability. There’s something motivating in wearing truly functional clothing; it makes us feel like we can go further and do more.

    Cocooned within GORE-TEX products, we feel comfortable and dry. Our body temperature is more regulated due to their breathability, and there is an abundance of stylish silhouettes and contemporary cuts. Be it outerwear or footwear, the days of functional clothing having no attractive form are gone. Though “dad style” still lingers, it has been overshadowed by brands and designers taking charge of the look that is paired with the functional aspects. 

    Functional clothing, or techwear, can be seen as tools. We all have a piece of technical clothing that’s assisted us to some degree, in some scenario. You may even have something multifunctional - the Swiss Army Knife of your wardrobe. The piece, or pieces that don’t cause you to think twice about staying out and somewhat encourage you to, braving the rain or snow, or maybe that biting wind that’s picked up. But at the same time, you’ll still be wearing these when it’s clear skies and you need to don a pair of sunglasses to take a stroll down the pub.

    ...a lot of brands in recent years have adopted that approach to their visual & design language. Consequently we have seen garments designed for the outdoors shed the stuffy or clumsy dad styling (although I kinda love that) and become more in tune with evolving fashion styles.

    Graeme Gaughan zipping up jacket
    Graeme Gaughan

    About 114.index

    114.index is a platform sharing references for functional living and meaningful interactions, from a creative standpoint. It's a place where personal tastes and inspiration are at the forefront of the curation of images, and where personal creative work such as art direction and production is shared. They share experiences of individuals or groups alike and how they have felt the positive impact of lifestyle choices such as embracing our connection with nature, or venturing to new places to learn or educate themselves.

    Follow them on Instagram @114.index

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