Rock climbing style has its roots in the 1970s, when a psychedelic climbing crew called The Stonemasters turned climbing into a cultural phenomenon. They also made it one of the coolest sports in the world. As the gang of young guys and girls made first ascents of the impossible walls in Yosemite and Joshua Tree, they developed a considered nonchalance that included plenty of drug use (who said you couldn’t trip balls halfway up a rock?) and, of course, an effortless sense of style. As some of them told GQ Style in an oral history of the Stonemasters phenomenon, their uniform was white painter pants, tie-dye headbands, and the craziest shirt you could find—basically a woodsier version of surf style, as good for adventuring as for partying at the campsite.
These days, a bunch of labels in both America and Japan fully hone in on the climbing lifestyle’s vintage appeal, not to mention the booming popularity of the sport itself, to spread a Stonemaster-like style gospel. A lot of this throwback gear won’t look out of place in the city, but most of it is made to properly handle hikes and climbs and camping trips—like in the national parks, say. There’s never been a better time to go outside, so why not dress for it?
Japanese designers do climbing and camping gear with more of a design twist, mashing together active fabrics with relaxed silhouettes and the occasional hippie reference. Check out Soho boutique Blue in Green, which stocks outdoorsy Japanese brands And Wander, Snow Peak, and Manastash. You’ll find plenty of nylon-belted pants, of course—Manastash’s are exceedingly faithful to the original Gramicci version, but cropped to shin length. And Wander—founded in 2011 by former Issey Miyake Men designers and recently available stateside—is easily the most hardcore of the bunch. There are tiny carabiners on the wind resistant shirts and utility-pocket pullovers, (and, naturally, the requisite nylon belted bottoms). But those details don’t feel overdone, and don’t make And Wander feel derivative of vintage Americana—it’s more rare urban rain-wear than anything else. (A shroom-print camp shirt fits right in.) Snow Peak simply makes the coolest camping gear in the world, like short-sleeve down base layers, organic tees and sweaters, and elegant camping bottles, bowls, and even chairs. It’s purely functional gear that you’ll want to wear and use every day.