Understanding the ubiquitous cult of Gorman

The most un-Melbourne thing to ever happen to Melbourne.

Melbourne label Gorman is probably the most un-Melbourne thing to ever happen. Bright, brashy prints clashing with stripes, polka dots and lobsters, it’s the beacon of light in a city ruled by black

When the label first launched back in 1999, Lisa Gorman’s eponymous empire was just a flicker in a Fitzroy shop window. Who would have thought this humble brand would be everywhere – and I mean everywhere – a mere 17 years later. 

These days Gorman is a big part of Melbourne’s iconic street style: whether it’s a polka dot raincoat at a festival, a pair of cactus socks poking out of your workmate’s ankle boots, or seeing two girls sporting a Dalmatian-printed jumpsuit at Fashion Week.  

The label has officially become part of the Australian fashion landscape and the “cult” of Gorman is growing stronger as we speak. But, to be quite honest, it’s a little unexpected.

For one, it’s not cheap

The word “investment” gets thrown around a lot here. You know, a piece that you’ll have for years and will interweave through your wardrobe ’til it’s literally falling apart at the seams. 

It’s funny though, Gorman has the stature of a label like Zimmermann or Sass & Bide, but with Sportsgirl-level ubiquity. This certainly has a lot to do with the fact that Gorman pieces are so easily identifiable. But it seems that there’s a lot more Gorman around than you’d expect from a store that sells $300+ dresses and shoes. Maybe this has to do with the label’s excellent re-sell value?

Selling on with passion

By now you’ve probably heard of the infamous Gorman Buy and Sell groups on Facebook. It’s here that someone might all but sell their left kidney for their Gorman “unicorn” (also known as the ‘one that got away’). In these groups, it’s not uncommon for a coveted piece to be sold for over the RRP. Though some groups have explicitly banned this, there are no such rules on eBay. 

These girls are passionate, opinionated but also surprisingly supportive. Girls will post a query about styling their boxy shift dresses and be flooded with handy tips and advice from the greater Gorman community. Which leads me to…

You’re buying into a very special world here

Maybe part of the appeal of Gorman is that it buys you entry into a certain elusive club: the “Gorman girl” aesthetic, if you will. Not unlike a little old French lady who wears solely Chanel, a Gorman piece is like an identifier to other like-minded people. It’s almost a badge that succinctly says who you are and what you like. 

And because their prints and cuts are so easily identifiable, there’s a whole lot of pride that goes into owning a Gorman piece, too.

It’s a whole new world

It can be pretty damn embarrassing to walk into a room and see someone wearing the exact same dress, but with Gorman? It’s something else. This weird thing happens with Gorman girls where they’ll look at each other, look at their matching outfits, smile and maybe even take a picture together, because that’s just what Gorman girls do. 

It’s honestly nice to see something so in-your-face and colourful kicking goals in an industry where overly-serious fashion (and grumpy fashionistas) can dominate. Who knows what the future of Gorman will be… maybe they’ll reach a point where they’ve run out of kitschy prints and will effectively say ‘fuck it’, releasing a line exclusively in chocolate brown. Hey, it could happen! 

In the words of the Gilmore Girls: if you lead, [scores of Gorman girls] will follow, anywhere that you tell me to. IF YOU NEED– yeah, you get the picture.  

I’m sure Gormie will do just fine. 

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