Some of the subcultures that exist and thrive on the internet—from gothcore to dystopiacore—are intrinsically tied to their aesthetics and often birth the emerging fashion trends of our time. It goes without saying that trends such as gorpcore or ‘hiker chic’ have taken centre stage to dominate high fashion—with brands like Arc’teryx skyrocketing in popularity, not for its outdoor functionality but for the fit, duh. Among this, we’ve noticed another little budding trend that seems to be simmering its way through the collective. In fact, if you’re keeping up, you might even have an item or two that fits the vibe. Say hello to the cool, effortless stylings of grandpacore.
Born out of a body of Gen Zers who seem to have developed a burgeoning relationship with vintage, second-hand and repurposed clothing (let’s not forget our generation’s micro-trend crisis) comes a classic, dark academia-like, sweater-wearing, cigar-smoking elderly gentlemen aesthetic that strangely seems to also simultaneously surface right alongside our recent zaddy obsession. Coincidence? I think not. With #grandpacore reaching over 12 million views on TikTok, the aesthetic seems to be slowly clawing its way into the notoriety that its female-gendered opposite grandmacore won in the past year.
Grandpacore has many sides to it; it’s not just an emulation of one kind of grandpa. In it, you’ll find your gorpcore grandpa wearing a windbreaker, shorts and beat-up sneakers finished with, of course, a baseball cap. You’ll also see your book-reading, vintage grandpa elements: printed sweaters, cardigans, tweed blazers—yep, the ones with suede elbow patches—and high-rise brown professor-looking trousers kept in place with a leather belt. There are also more ‘elevated’ renditions out there, ones featuring classic black loafers, pinstripes and sleeker, more dressed up variations—there’s even more fun ones that include loose and open floral shirts (Miami-like ones) and flowing wide-leg bottoms. These components are not isolated to each personality of grandpa but rather work and are utilised interchangeably. Basically, if you can picture a grandpa wearing it, then you’ve mastered the look.
Though it may just appear as a small and trivial trend to many, its impact can already be seen trickling its way into the mainstream fashion world. We’ve seen it appear alongside the recent obsession with sweater vests, the wide-leg pant craze and obviously the loafer fad. Interestingly, another ‘dad’ shoe that defined 2021 was the Clarks classic Wallabee shoe—a shoe saturated with legacy and important history. We see this ‘older’ essence in the recent crochet mania too.
Maybe it’s all down to good-old Bernie Sanders who stole our hearts with his politics and his iconic mitten moment—a 2021 article for The Guardian written by Poppy Noor put it best: Vermont dadcore: does Bernie Sanders caring so little about fashion make him chic? Or perhaps it is this argued effortlessness that draws people to the aesthetic as a whole and Bernie is just the perfect example of someone who wears it perfectly. A winter jacket? Check. Patterned mittens? Check. Brown shoes? Check, and we can’t forget his glasses of course. Hilarious mock-ups of how to ‘steal his look’ made their way across the internet back in January 2021 and it looks like the grandpa fever never died down since then.
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Grandpacore is part of this wave of fashion that prioritises a level of comfort, ease and naturalness to it—a-thrown-together-but-still-perfect kind of look. As mentioned, it happily fits into the vintage world—after all, we’ve all stolen something from our grandparents or parents’ wardrobes. Not to mention, grandads have been wearing hiking jackets, ‘ugly’ trainers, sweaters, baseball caps and loafers forever. They’re quite literally the fashion blueprint of the moment. Grandpacore reaches across so many avenues and aesthetics that it’s surprising it hasn’t yet been given its flowers. Well now, we are.