The Puffer Jackets Are Back And Who Are We To Stop Them?

The wearable doona returns from hibernation.

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The puffer parade is back, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

I don’t know about you, but I am cold. Last week, a cold snap gripped Melbourne, and it’s been a rather rude awakening. Has the cold always been this cold? Is this really just the beginning? And how does one even begin to ‘rug up’?

But existential questions aside, there’s no better indicator of winter’s imminent arrival than a glance of those beautiful puffer jackets — pillowy and in full bloom.

In capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney, you’d struggle to find a person not draped in the wearable marshmallow that is the puffer: usually black and branded Kathmandu. Are any of us in Kathmandu? We are not. But that doesn’t stop us from embracing this strange confluence of outdoor clothing and metropolitan street wear, what Jason Chen coined as ‘gorpcore’ in The Cut back in 2017.

Chen, who referred to the trend as “defiantly ugly”, says that while taking cues from normcore, gorpcore comes with crucial differences. “Where normcore idealised the Mall, indiscriminately incorporating bland stylistic totems across suburban categories — [activewear] as much as grunge as much as skate as much as prep — this new aesthetic worships the Woods, strictly defining itself by the idioms of hiking-camping-outdoor apparel.”

“It telegraphs an enlightenment beyond urban, bourgeois concerns: I can survive perfectly fine outside of the city — and in style, thank you.

It’s been five years since the word entered our cultural lexicon, it doesn’t look like this trend is showing any sign of slowing. Temperatures are dropping across the country, and so too is the spectre of outdoorsy chic — but don’t worry, there’s no need to abandon the comforts of the inner city. If you had to, though, you most certainly bloody could.