Hill City is Filling Athleisure’s Hot-Dad-Shaped Void

Hill City is Filling Athleisure’s Hot-Dad-Shaped Void

The Gap Inc.-owned brand is run by Noah Palmer, the U.S.'s David Beckham analog.

The Gap Inc.-owned brand is run by Noah Palmer, the U.S.'s David Beckham analog.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Of all our nation’s flaws, our lack of a proper soccer culture doesn’t rank very high. But as a result, the most fashion-deprived Americans (fathers who watch sports) are without a would-be wellspring of style inspo. Indeed, none of our retired athletes seem to look anything like David Beckham, who defies the dad bod with his evergreen looks, and the clean cut but breezy aesthetic of soccer gear has been co-opted by hype (see: Gosha Rubchinskiy and Nike’s recent collab with Kim Jones and Louis Vuitton).

But retired MLS player Noah Palmer may reclaim soccer-dad-core with Hill City, an all-new, just-launched brand under the Gap Inc. umbrella. Palmer’s tidy bro looks still recall his youth spent goalkeeping for various MLS teams, but the 35-year-old father of two, who left the game 10 years ago to work at Gap Inc., says he struggled to find menswear that reflected his style. “Looking at the world today, you have a lot of high performing stuff that doesn't look really cool,” says Palmer. “And you have a lot of stuff that doesn't perform that well or perform at all, it just looks cool. So we thought it would be amazing to merge the two.”

Not quite athleisure and not quite workwear, the line merges the two with high functioning minimalism—that is, sportswear made for watching sports, playing sports, or adorably teaching your kid sports. “As a guy its like I buy my running shorts here, I buy my pants here, I buy my oxford shirt there. Why does that choice structure have to be so fragmented?” says Palmer of the line’s dad-friendly, “less-is-more” philosophy.

But the line is anything but fusty. Rather, it merges repackages dad-like utilitarianism within streamlined, upmarket daywear. For example, one hooded sweatshirt has a concealed zipper in the front-pouch, mimicking the convenience of a fanny-pack. Elsewhere, the specter of normcore becomes explicit; a pair of workman pants looks Dickies-esque, but stretchy waistband replaces the typical blood-constricting canvas.

The breathable cool of Hill City offers a refreshing antidote to the disheveled-dad look recently adopted by Justin Bieber and others. But it’s one that still allows for one’s inner man-child to express itself—as illustrated by Palmer’s somewhat surprising style inspiration: “In terms of my personal style, I always loved the way that Johnny Knoxville dressed,” he says. “I remember when he was in the chuck taylors, always with a work wear pant with a graphic tee or something. I just thought that was really cool.”

See the collection, which launched yesterday, below.

Everyday Tech Pant (courtesy of Hill City)

UP NEXT

Michael B. Jordan Named New Face of Coach