How The Functional Down Jacket Became A Menswear Staple

How the functional down jacket became a menswear staple

Today, you're just as likely to spot a down jacket at fashion week as you are Everest Base Camp. But when it comes to blending fashion with function, there's one brand whose down jackets are ahead of the rest

THE BIGGEST CHANGE to menswear in recent memory hasn’t come from the runways, nor has it trickled down from celebrity culture. Instead, the largest disruption to the way men dress has been inspired by the great outdoors – or the type of clothes we wear when braving the elements, to be precise.

So potent is the ‘outdoorsification’ of men’s fashion, that an entire trend has been named after it. According to a 2021 Esquire article, ‘Gorpcore’ refers to technical adventure clothing and accessories that are worn in a fashion setting. ‘Gorp’, it goes on to explain, stands for ‘good old raisins and peanuts’. Yes, that’s the trail mix you might take hiking.

That fashion guys should want to trade their suit jackets for something more comfortable and practical makes sense. By virtue of being designed to keep us warm in the cold and dry in the rain, outdoors gear is the definition of wearable. But of all the items to fall under the ‘Gorpcore’ moniker – trail running sneakers, cargo shorts, wraparound sunglasses with polarised lenses – it’s the quilted down jacket that has proven itself to be the most versatile and stylish of them all.

Today, you’re just as likely to spot someone wearing one at fashion week as you are Everest Base Camp. Down jackets, or ‘puffers’, as we like to call them, have become non-negotiable items in the wardrobes of guys all over the world. Especially those of us who live in the antipodes, where ‘four seasons in one day’ isn’t just a cliché.






The value of a good down jacket is something Liam Lawson understands well. Raised in Aotearoa, the Formula 1 reserve driver for Red Bull Racing is no stranger to the ferocity of the elements – he began karting at tracks around Auckland at the age of seven – and today, as he moves from Formula 1 circuit to Formula 1 circuit, a down jacket is something he never forgets to pack.

But not all down jackets are created equal, and Lawson’s brand of choice is a name that Australian and New Zealand adventurers know well: Kathmandu.

“Like most Kiwis, I’ve owned a Kathmandu jacket since I was a kid . . . I remember my friend from school showing up one day with a Kathmandu puffer, and I loved it. I wanted one ever since,” Lawson tells Esquire. “My mum took me to another store to buy a puffer that wasn’t Kathmandu, and I was devastated. [But] I finally got my hands on one.”

Lawson says he’s never looked back. And we’re not surprised, because down jackets from Kathmandu achieve what so few brands have been able to: the perfect balance between fashion and function.

There is one style, however, that Lawson – and Kathmandu’s following of style-conscious adventure seekers – rates most highly, and that’s the Epiq Down Jacket. According to the young driver, not even the icy temperatures of the Las Vegas Grand Prix bother him in his Epiq.



Formula 1 reserve driver for Red Bull Racing, Liam Lawson, in Kathmandu’s new Epiq SE down jacket. Photography courtesy of Kathmandu


Given his genuine love for the brand – and his reputation as one of the grid’s emerging style talents – it makes sense that Kathmandu would partner with Lawson on the launch of a pioneering new update to its Epiq range: Epiq SE Down Jacket. Just like Kathmandu, the young driver – who is quickly making a name for himself in the F1, having stepped up to compete in five races last season – pushes boundaries and pursues innovation, which makes him the perfect ambassador for this new, special edition of Kathmandu’s heritage puffer.

“The Epiq SE is sleek,” says Lawson. “I’m continuing to discover my own personal style and am eager to take on the fashion space. I’m stoked for my first step in this scene to be alongside another homegrown Kiwi.”

With Lawson on board as the face of this new update to Kathmandu’s most popular puffer, you can expect to see the Epiq SE being adopted by cool guys everywhere; the type who want to look good while knowing their outfit is practical. Because while the Epiq SE might be highly durable, water repellant and lightweight, it’s also crafted from a recycled ripstop outer that looks silky smooth and feels buttery to touch. And just like Lawson has in the new Epiq SE campaign, you can style the jacket with a pair of camo print pants for the street, or an all-black outfit when the occasion calls for you to look super slick.

It’s no wonder the humble down jacket has become such a menswear staple. And it’s even less off a surprise that Kathmandu would make one of the most desirable versions on the market.


The Kathmandu Epic SE is available at all Kathmandu stores and online now. Read more about Kathmandu’s partnership with Liam Lawson here



These jackets and coats will keep you warm (and stylish) all winter long

5 Summer Outfits That Will Help You Escape The Heat in Style

More From

Nike Pacific Running Summit
Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Over the last two days, Nike brought together the paragons of Australia’s running community for a celebration of all things running at the first ever Nike Pacific Running Summit. Men’s Health was there to test the latest innovations, get an inside look at the gear that will be lighting up the track in Paris next month, and to discover what separates Nike from the pack