Arc’teryx is, first and foremost, an outdoors brand. The company is based in Vancouver, nestled between the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Ocean, and its gear has always been designed for the unexpected climates and unpredictable activities one finds in that neck of the woods: dynamic, varied, quickly-changing. Brash, colorful and utilitarian-in-an-in-your-face-kind-of-way jackets have always been part of Arc’teryx’s offering, but, for much of the last decade, they’ve been reserved for already-established outdoors people. A decade ago, Arc’teryx introduced Veilance, a stripped-back, minimalist range that catered to and won over fashion-forward city dwellers who weren’t necessarily scaling mountains on their days off. That paved the way for those same people to eventually discover the mainline collection when the gorpcore movement exploded in the late 2010s. Now Arc’teryx is introducing System_A, and betting that it’ll be a favorite for existing customers, while allowing new acolytes to discover the brand. As creative director Taka Kasuga told GQ over the phone, System_A is a “gateway into the Arc’teryx world […] for younger, progressive consumers who are a little bit more style-conscious.”
Launching August 11th through the brand’s webstore and physical outposts, the inaugural drop—Arc’teryx is opting for a twice-a-season release schedule—features technical T-shirts with heat-sealed seams and oversized logos, soft shell jackets, matching cargo pants and shorts, accessories and a longer parka-style shell. The shells feature off-tone material blocking that highlights the technical panelling, with velcro patches that allow badges to be affixed and swapped out. Besides the oversized logos on the T-shirts, Arc’teryx’s tell-tale bird logo is absent from the collection, with the jackets featuring the brand’s word mark in its stead. The resulting pieces are equipped for mountain life—cold, windy, wet—but carry a gritty urban edge. It’s almost like the minds behind Arc’teryx see the way brands like it have been co-opted in recent years, and want in on some of the fun.
System_A isn’t starting from scratch so much as drawing from the brand’s roots, smashing together the version of the brand fashion heads love with the iteration beloved by outdoors obsessives, and presenting it in a way that’s palatable for those who don’t yet know much about Arc’teryx.
Arc’teryx might not cater to the moment, but, as it so happens, System_A feels very of the moment—for both casual observers and the most hardcore Arc’teryx heads out there.“There’s the definitely an opportunity to bring more people into experiencing the beauty of nature,” Kasuga says. “We started on System_A pre-COVID,” he adds, “but things are lining up well now.” Kasuga mentions meeting with the anonymous figure behind the nature-and-crunchy-style Instagram account @organiclab.zip, who he calls “an early adopter,” of all things outdoors: a sort of harbinger of things to come. Kasuga is right—in recent years, we have witnessed the rise of gorpcore as a clothing choice, but also as a kind of philosophy. Ironically, Instagram has allowed once-niche accounts like @organiclab.zip or @unownedspaces to put the beauty of nature in front of more eyeballs.