“I feel so empowered by the women around me and GorpGirls continues to remind me of the value of female energy and how important female friendships can be,” founder and creative director Hannah da Silva tells LN-CC. Since its inception in March 2021, GorpGirls has encouraged, empowered and enabled women to experience the outdoors in a comfortable and safe environment. Born out of trend research during the final year of her Creative Direction for Fashion BA course at UAL, multi-disciplinary creative Hannah Da Silva has quickly built a social-powered, community-driven and pursuit-expanding platform that has evolved from monthly hikes and collaborations with like-minded brands, to events that include climbing workshops, running clubs and hikes across the UK and beyond.
As it begins to mark two transformative years cultivating the go-to female-focused outdoor community, GorpGirls invited the LN-CC team on its second Hike in Yorkshire event. Led by local community members Leah De La Hunty and Anna Taylor, Carina Lammers’ lens documented the day spent in the Peak District with 50 other GorpGirls. “Even though it was quite cold and misty on the day, I wanted this shoot to be approachable and represent the warmth, supportive and open-minded community feel from the day,” Lammers explains over email. As this warmth washes over us and we hear from a few members dressed in Montreal-based high-performance technical outerwear brand Ostrya, Hannah da Silva talks us through the past, present and future of GorpGirls.
What was the catalyst for launching GorpGirls during your final year at UAL?
GorpGirls started out as an Instagram account, a reaction to the proliferation of popular Gorpcore-dominated moodboard pages that were geared towards men. I wanted to create a page showcasing women in the outdoors scene when it came to sport, fashion and techwear. After its launch, I quickly had so many people DMing us asking where they could hike and if they could join us. One day, I posted that I was going on a hike and received 60 DMs, so that’s when I knew it was a thing.
So everything changed then.
We started doing the monthly hikes and it led to the creative agency collaborating with brands on consultancy and casting with the sole purpose of female representation with the Gorpcore industry and the outdoors. It became a whole 360 thing as people noticed that there was no female representation within the space and GorpGirls became the UK hub for it.
Was this evolution organic or planned?
I always wanted to, but it’s been a process of figuring out how to facilitate that. When I first started the research project, the Instagram mood board was the first thing that came to my mind because there were so many of them online, but none dedicated to women. Our growth has been driven by our audience’s needs and the community coming to me.
While we’ve been discussing this collaboration for some time, it’s fitting that we’re launching ahead of International Women’s Day. This year’s theme of #EmbracingEquity and that’s exactly what you’re doing with GorpGirls. This is an empowering platform that cultivates allyship and builds inclusivity.
We try. It’s my full-time job and such a passion project, but so much has been enabled by the great community around me who continue to build and grow it.
The community is increasingly involved too.
This platform is for them. I’ve been learning to delegate and we now have more of a team, which includes our production manager Joanna, and two interns that work alongside her. It doesn’t feel like I’ve hired them, it feels like they really want to be a part of it and GorpGirls is family-rooted. We have leaders based around the UK that can lead hikes, just like this one.
It’s as much a movement as it is a platform.
I've always wanted GorpGirls to be a platform for other women in the community to run their own things. My friend Georgia (Smith) just came to me one day and her thing is climbing, so we've given her the climbing workshops that she leads every month. And then we have recently launched the running club too, Nightcrawlers is a bi-weekly event led by Shelley and Rehan . I'm always open to hearing the other girls’ ideas. If they have a passion or need within the community. I'll use this platform to do it. They’re both avid runners and they finish work at 6pm so felt it was too dark to run alone. It’s all about force in numbers, women running together to feel safer outside.
This hike is another example of community members coming to you with an opportunity.
Exactly. Leah and Anna live in North Yorkshire and they wanted to lead a Lake District hike because there were so many local girls that wanted to join. We can only lead so many hikes out of London, so this was a great opportunity to enable local leaders to put on their own hikes. This was the second one we’ve been able to put on and it’s great that LN-CC were able to join.
Thanks for having us! To what extent has the growth and impact of GorpGirls surprised you?
The demand for events demonstrates just how much we’ve grown in the last two years. If I opened the hike up to 200 people, we'd get 200 sign-ups and that's what makes me realize, 'oh, wow, this has grown exponentially'. There are so many people, and brands too, that are genuinely interested in what we do. For me, it’s easy to see when a brand just wants to collaborate but doesn’t care. I love it when a brand representative joins in, so it was great to see the LN-CC team join us.
We truly care and we’re excited to see how GorpGirls continues to grow in 2023 and beyond, but what are you most excited about?
I’m excited to grow the events. We’re doing the climbing workshops more frequently and we’ll soon be facilitating larger, all-women exclusive nights in the climbing gyms. There's so much talent in the fashion side of Gorp tech wear too and we want to spotlight the girls in our community who are designers in this space.
What would you say is the strongest truth about GorpGirls?
That it’s a community of friends and there’s a lot of love in GorpGirls. Everyone looks out for one another. In my experience, the vibe is different from co-ed or all-male hikes. No one is competing to get to the top, no one is left behind. It’s welcoming and friendly. People make friends every single hike, and then they also plan their own hikes or go climbing together, even outside of our events. I love going on Instagram and seeing two girls that met on a hike becoming friends.
Cute. Finally, what would say to any girl that’s reading this and wants to go on a hike but is unsure?
We receive so many DMs from girls wanting to come but are nervous to do so alone. But we have so many girls that come by themselves and there’s not one girl who won’t talk to you, who won’t introduce themselves to you. So my advice is come, make friends and have fun. Also, for anyone that’s reading this and is nervous around not being able to keep up; we do everything at beginner and moderate levels. We walk at the pace of the slowest person.
Photography: Carina Lammers, @carina.lammers Talent Hannah da Silva, @hannah__dasilva. Leah De La Hunty, @delahuntyleah. Anna Taylor, @annatylr. Amber McKenzie, @ambrmcknzie. Macy Kerrigan, @macykerrigan. Julia Lebossé, @julialebosse.