Gore-Tex has been around for decades. And just as Velcro (the company) has become the ubiquitous term for everything, well, Velcro, Gore-Tex is poised to reach a similar status for all things weatherproof.
It's not an unfamiliar name by any account, but its application may seem rather surprising. Gore-Tex's raison d'être was dedicated to serious outdoorsmen who wanted clothes that could work in tandem with their gear in almost any situation and environment. A Gore-Tex product is characteristically waterproof and windproof, while also providing sufficient comfort thanks to the material's breathability.
As with most things created for function first, there was hardly anything stylish about a Gore-Tex design. All that mattered to all the dads before us was that it worked extremely well in that niche segment; an additional boon that they could tackle multiple hurdles of being in the great outdoors.
Yet, just as dad sneakers have managed to wiggle their way into fashion's style vocabulary, so has Gore-Tex, albeit in a sneakier way. If you're currently sporting a pair of Timberlands, or a pair of Adidas sneakers, or even suede Clarks desert boots, chances are, they've got a fair bit of Gore-Tex incorporated. Its revolutionary sock-liner—introduced in 1982—paved the way for dependable protection against external moisture. Which makes perfect sense for footwear brands to tap into the innovation in order to provide even better protection against an issue that affects everybody—outdoorsy or not.
Fashion's never-ending obsession with utilitarian style has blurred the lines between function and style, so much so that brands such as Patagonia, The North Face and Moncler have established themselves beyond their technical roots. With climate change skewing weather patterns, it's only wise to have fashion items that are prepared for sudden downpours too. Gore-Tex is no stranger on fashion runways, having continuously collaborated with a spectrum of brands that want to inject functionality into their designs. A Gore-Tex label has become a seal of technical authenticity and approval. The Prada Linea Rossa line—a more technical-focused collection by Prada—uses Gore-Tex fabric innovations for optimal performance, while preserving its house codes and elegance.
There's no reason to view Gore-Tex as a fashion trend because it isn't; it has only gotten more visible. The company made its debut appearance during the autumn/winter 2019 show season at Paris Men's Fashion Week last year and has a dedicated Instagram account (@goretexstudio) showcasing its work with contemporary fashion brands.
All it has to do now is to work on being more sustainable and environmentally friendly (its main component is expanded polytetrafluoroethylene; a plastic) and it could very well be the Velcro of weatherproof fabrics.
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