Spring rains and winter chills can be an issue for the fashion-focused. Want to wear that new windbreaker? Not today, there’s nothing but downpour until 2 am. Instead, you have to opt for your Columbia rain coat you bought strictly for the northwest weather (and not for looks). But what if your jacket could do both? Imagine a jacket with a waterproof breathable membrane, negative 10 degree temperature rating, and a gore-tex finish that also keeps your fashion sense from going insane. That’s what techwear aims to solve.
What is techwear? Simply put, it’s the idea that the clothes you wear should not only keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, but they should also have a strong focus on design, minimalism, and material choices. They should be as functional as they are fashionable. Techwear focuses mostly on outerwear, as that’s the first layer to hit the elements when you go outside. While this mostly means jackets and coats, it also includes pants, layering pieces, hats, gloves, and other accessories. While there’s not too many high-end brands creating solely techwear pieces, there’s definitely a few you need to know about.
Arguably the biggest name in the techwear spectrum, Acronym has subtly carved out a niche for material and function driven pieces that consistently blow anything else comparable straight out of the water. Started in Germany in 1994, they chose and followed the path of no marketing or advertisements, a bold strategy that rarely pays off unless the product is strong enough to speak for itself. In the case of Acronym, this is exactly the case. Pictured above is their first jacket design that made it to production: the J1A-GT. Developed ~1999, the jacket is still being produced today with no less relativity than the year it debuted. Recently the jacket received an upgrade in Gore-Tex technology (known as Gore-Tex Pro) that improved its ruggedness and durability. Good luck finding any of their gear in stores though; the majority of their product is sold strictly through online retailers. If you’re feeling lavish then you can always check out their website or retailers like Bodega and Union L.A. (Jackets range from $1000 to $1400).
Yet another brand hailing from Europe, Stone Island is one of the biggest names in outdoor luxury clothing in general. From their accidental start in the early 80’s, Stone Island has continually put in more effort towards materials research than any other brand in the world. With an archive boasting a reported 20,000 pieces, it’s hard to imagine that anything they design is less than ideal. Like Acronym, Stone Island’s main focus is to provide the most up-to-date materials and hardware in a way that doesn’t compromise their core values of military and nautical themed collections. While this brand may not be easy to find stateside, they are known to be stocked semi-regularly at stores like Machus in east Portland.
Finally, here’s a semi-recent brand that is sure to takeover the techwear scene in the coming years. Still considered a somewhat underground brand, Guerilla Group is a small collective of designers working out of Japan. They focus on mostly-black clothing with a strong emphasis on hardware, pockets, and long silhouettes, all with a very traditionally-Japanese feel. They offer a wide-array of outerwear, pants, shirts, and accessories, all for prices considered relatively low in the techwear genre. As of right now, there isn’t anywhere to buy their pieces outside of their website.
While brands don’t define how effective your execution is, they definitely add a bit of flare to an outfit. That being said, you can definitely dress this look in a way that’s a little more easy on your wallet. Staple northwest brands like Columbia Sportswear or The North Face often have very technical focused garments in minimal colors like all black or all white. These aren’t going to cost upwards of a thousand dollars like an Acronym jacket will. These jackets paired with some tapered cargo pants and some all black runners will definitely get your techwear vibes going. The most important thing to keep in mind is that function and fashion should always be on the same level.