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WHAT’S BEHIND FISHING-INSPIRED MENSWEAR?

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What’s Behind Fishing-Inspired Menswear?


All menswear in the present boils down to two somewhat opposing principles. One, we love the comfort of nostalgia and all of the memories it drudges up, either for a simpler time or a world only our parents or even grandparents experienced. Two, we seek adventure. Sometimes, this is figurative, like pushing boundaries through androgyny and feminine influences. At other times, this materialises literally as garments inspired by hiking, camping, and backpacking.


While fishing itself feels like an unlikely inspiration, if you consider these two factors and directions, it sits right in between. You might have had a father or other male relative who took you on a few fishing trips, or perhaps you lived in a coastal town with a fishing industry past or present and have mythologized those who head out onto the water, no matter the weather, to do their jobs. At the same time, fishing, especially in the present, stirs up the living-off-the-land element of adventure: being off the grid for a few days to catch and cook with just your tools, intuition and skills. 


As a third factor, the colours and prints we noticed from gorpcore a few years back have merged with fishing-inspired garments and silhouettes – think waterproof treatments, lots of pockets, bucket hats, and thicker wool knits. Although you might not wear these for a few hours sitting by the lake, let alone venturing out into the waves on a boat, interest in fishing feels inevitable at this point.


Sacai
Sacai


Why Fishing and Why Now? 

The inspiration isn’t so heavy handed to include fishing poles in a Fashion Week presentation, but more like an amalgamation of factors that lead to a single conclusion. 


Gorpcore’s legacy has yet to die out. Its current version has given us fishing-adjacent garments like shells and waterproof jackets, fishing backpacks, camouflage trousers, base layer-like pieces, and thicker, heavier kits. As well, details that wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary on a fishing trip with your father suddenly seem everywhere: Look at those utility jackets covered in pockets, similar vests, and bucket hats with a floppy brim originally designed for sun protection. Depending upon the angle or decade, a bum bag mirrors certain methods for bringing along fishing lures. 


Put it all together, rather than wearing pieces individually, and you look as if you’re ready to pack up the hatchback or hitch the camper out for a weekend by the lake, where you’ll sit by the water waiting. Maybe you’ll fill a cooler, or maybe you’ll practice your focus and mental clarity, but either way, your attire spells out old-school fishing trip. 


Beyond the convergence of two parallel trends, other influences seem to glamorize going outdoors and getting away from it all. Case in point, that Todd Snyder x L.L. Bean collection titled “Upta Camp”: Beyond reworking preppy staples, it incorporates a fishing lure-inspired pattern while featuring the duck boot, still a casual fishing staple even if it’s no longer practical for hiking. 


Then, there’s some growing interest in what might be described as “redneck” style: Realtree camouflage – a staple of hunting and even fishing expeditions – playing off bright neon shades. In getting close to the water, it’s less nostalgia, less gorpcore, and more a fashionably ironic working of Duck Dynasty. 


Not everyone’s impressed with the emergence of fishing-inspired style. The Guardian found reactions from fly fishing enthusiasts in response to Supreme’s collaboration with Japanese label South2 West8, with most considering it impractical and strictly within the domain of hipsters.


Todd Snyder x L.L. Bean
Todd Snyder x L.L. Bean


Trying Out Fishing-Inspired Style 

If you’re interested in diving into the shallower waters of fishing influences, it’s a good idea to start somewhere familiar – workwear or, if you’re the outdoorsy type, with hiking influences that veer more toward waterproof garments and rainwear. Season plays a role, too. A pocketed vest and a bucket hat suit spring and even summertime weather in the northern hemisphere. For winter, head in a more nautical direction: think heavier cable-knit sweaters and beanies someone might layer on before heading out to sea. 


In general, you’ll want to lean more casual rather than technical – fishing trip with your dad versus a New England lobster boat where you’re wearing a full waterproof bib to manage the unpredictable waters. Along this line, incorporating larger pockets, buckles, clips, and toggles – all the spaces you could, in theory, carry smaller fishing supplies on your person – emphasize this angle more without it looking like your wardrobe comes from Bass Pro Shops. 


Then, there’s the fishing jacket – inspired by L.L. Bean’s creation and reworked for Todd Snyder’s collaboration. In terms of accessibility and incorporating fishing influences into your own wardrobe, it’s not that far of a throw from a chore coat with its pocketed exterior. In a more technical direction, replace more cotton-based materials with ripstop nylon or a similar quick-drying fabric that would better handle a day by the lake or river. 


Headwear further solidifies the association. A chunky knit beanie delivers that waiting-by-the-sea character, while retro fisherman’s caps provide a serviceable replacement for the baseball cap, often enhanced with thicker, warmer wool construction. A bucket hat, complete with loops for fishing lures, delivers a more direct reference. Here, too, cotton construction presents a more classic interpretation, while nylon and quick-drying tech fabrics indicate it can handle damper conditions without soaking through.


SOUTH2 WEST8
SOUTH2 WEST8

Ivan Yaskey

Philadelphia’s streetwear scenes and working as a copywriter for a Boston-based menswear brand sparked Ivan's passion for fashion and style more than a decade ago.

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