Roark Traverses The Globe Once More For Winter ’23
The road is the ultimate proving ground.
If you exist outside the hypebeast inner-party then you’ve got to work hard to flog your wares in menswear country, and Roark could well be the hardest working of the bunch.
The limitations of men’s style (who really wears anything much beyond pants, shorts, tees and a jumper weekly?) means that you have to go out of your way to create the stories that make you stand out from the madding swathes of imitators. And Roark’s Winter ’23 release shows all that they’re about, through the lens of an eclectic band of associates testing their wares in some of the more testing corners of the globe.
Every drop is inspired by a series of adventures, and Fall ’23 saw the gang mainly blowing the dust of the Japanese maps, although certain satellite trips (pictured) did split off to chase various mountains/swells and/or trails throughout the testing season. The myriad, varying islands of the Japanese archipelago in transition season proved the perfect canvas for the multi-faceted Roark team to put the range of pieces – all storied, all utilitarian and increasingly technical – to the test on a range of terrains, under a range of skies.
The Japan gang started north in Hokkaido and from there the travelling band cascaded south, picking up members of varying disciplines along the way, prying into every unturned market stall to gather patterns and inspiration for the coming range.
Roark have always gone out of their way to incorporate other sports into their program, pioneering a sort of total travel, where the journey’s certainly the focus. The journey incorporating as much fun, adventure and cross-pollination as possible. Hiking, running, fanging around on gravel bikes, and of course sampling the finest that Japan’s warren of river-mouths have to offer.
Furthermore, Roark seems to harbour the valuable knowledge that hinging the success of a travel expedition on something as fleeting as surf is a mug’s game. So, when browsing through the Winter ’23 catalogue, firstly let’s look as some of the bespoke gear for days in the outdoors but not necessarily the surf.
There’s a fair representation of joggers amongst the Stab ranks, so the Baja shirt/short combination immediately jumped out as a lovely way to mix up the big sport monopoly. Splash of colour with a technical edge (DriFit, moisture wicking etc, without looking like you’re trying to break the four minute mile) is how we like to hit the trails, and the fact that you can pair either in a regular travel fit is a bonus when bag space is at a premium.
If you’re after a button-up that always justifies itself in the duffel then it’s undoubtedly the Nordsman Flannel. And it you’ve got a trip coming up when you’re expecting to flow between a number of settings, then it’ll have you negotiate the trails, bars, restaurants and brisk mornings in toasty, tailored style. And paired with the technical, travel-specific ‘Layover Pant’ (not that you’d know it from the clean outline and subtle tech features) will definitely give off the vibe that you know what you’re doing and have possibly even been here before.
If the Roark ethos can be paraphrased in an anecdote, then Nate Zoller’s chapter in the winter ’23 adventure works pretty well. Sitting at home trying to motivate his way into cold water and lacklustre surf in California one minute, then on a split boarding/surfing cross-country vision quest the next on a Japanese Island he’d never even heard of prior.
“I’m looking around, a little more than halfway up mount Rishiri, when it hits me: I’m a stone’s throw from Russia, attempting to ‘summit’ a mountain on the ocean, with 3 days experience on the split tour setup. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up snowboarding and in the mountains every winter, but I feel completely out of my element as the soft snow turns into multiple icy pitches above.”
Danger, adventure, fine prose? That’s our sort of ‘work’ trip.
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