Last week, GQ Style Magazine thought it would be cool to run a fashion feature that played on some very worn-out gender stereotypes, with intrepid men scaling rocks, and their “cute” female friends doing little more than, well, looking cute in bikini tops. Outdoor Research, a brand for hiking and climbing clothing and accessories, brilliantly responded with its own pitch-perfect parody series.
For the feature titled “We Took Fall’s Crunchiest Designer Clothes Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park,” published online on Sept. 20 but appeared in the fall edition of the print magazine, GQ Style invited pro climbers Daniel Woods, Sam Elias and Jimmy Chin to show off expensive designer clothing while climbing, including a $3,400 Givenchy vest and a $3,200 Valentino woolen sweater. Several women are shown sitting around, drinking beer, and cooking.
The climbers are extensively quoted on their climbing careers in an accompanying article. The same article refers to the unnamed women only as “cute friends.”
So Outdoor Research decided to pay a frame-by-frame tribute to the GQ Style story, in a Sept. 23 parody blog post titled “DESIGNER CLOTHES FOR WATCHING LADIES CLIMB.” Its images show three female rock climbers and their “adorable” male friends striking exactly the same poses as those in the GQ Style article (albeit wearing thrift store vests, free t-shirts and borrowed boots).
“[The GQ Style article] created a little bit of a buzz in the climbing and outdoor community, people were reacting not only to the ridiculousness of the expensive clothes in the climbing setting, but more specifically to the pretty blatant sexism shown in the article, only highlighting male climbers, not highlighting really awesome female climbers,” says Outdoor Research spokesperson Erika Canfield. GQ Style has not responded to Quartz’s request for comment at the time of writing.
“So the team got together and did a brainstorm and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny to invert the genders?'” she said.
The company quickly pulled together several climbers from among employees, former employees, friends of friends and roommates. Together with staff photographer Elise Giordano, the parody squad drove out the next day at 3am to Vantage, a climbing spot two hours drive from Seattle to do the shoot.
Like their male counterparts in the GQ story, these female climbers also have a lot to share about their climbing experience. “I just really like being able to hang around on the rocky crag and show off my cool climbing clothes, instead of just the gym,” said Kjersti C. “And there are always cute boys, just sitting around half naked watching us.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly pointed out that the original photoshoot appeared in the GQ Magazine website, instead of the GQ Style Magazine both in print and online editions.