Subclass Spotlight: Gray Man

The least flashy of the subcategories of techwear is the none other than the Gray Man style. As the name indicates, Gray Man is meant to be muted and blend into the background. That doesn’t mean that all the clothes are gray colored, but they are meant to be monochromatic and not as noticed. Although this style still holds a great deal of function, the exterior design of the Gray Man style does not reflect its tremendous technical ability.

Image Credit : Hypebeast

Most other techwear prides itself on being colorful (gorpcore) or have plenty of straps and pockets (Warcore), but Gray Man style is meant to be the least noticeable as possible. The idea is that someone who is undercover would be allowed to operate without bringing attention to themselves. If an operative can retrieve an item from a hidden pocket without being noticed, they are in the Gray Man style. Hidden pockets often populate plenty of Grey Man jackets, much like plenty of other techwear.

The idea of the Gray Man comes from combining the cloak and dagger “black ops” and the hugely noticeable “white ops” type of operative. Hence the more neutral and blended of the two, the Gray Man. The idea is that the Gray Man can remain highly functional, but to do so in the background. Think of FBI and CIA operatives. Especially the way in which movies paint them. The famous agent 007 would likely be decked out in the Gray Man aesthetic. 

Some of the most notable brands:

  • Arc’teryx Veilance
  • Ministry of Supply
  • Nanamica
  • Icebreaker Tabi
  • Western Rise

Arc’teryx isn’t only known as one of the most popular gorpcore brands, they also have their Veilance line, which is comprised of plenty of Gray Man-type clothing. Take the Arc’teryx Veilance Monitor Down Gore-Tex Coat. On the outside, the coat looks to be a simple black coat. It is highly functional though. With Gore-Tex Pro fabric, and 850 Fill Goose Down, the jacket remains waterproof, windproof, breathable, and comfortable. An adjustable hood, two interior pockets, and an adjustable hood offer even more function. The most expensive Arc’teryx Veilance jacket doesn’t even have a logo, which is surprising considering its well over a thousand dollars.  

The same can be said about the Apollo Dress Shirt from Ministry of Supply. The shirt looks to be as plain as ever, with little to no distinguishable features. However, the fabric itself is said to be NASA-grade in temperature regulation and be 19x more breathable than cotton. That is some extreme function, especially a plain collared shirt.  

Image Credit : Ministry of Supply

The Nanamica Cruiser Gore-Tex Jacket is a singular tan color and looks to be like a plain coat, but inside it contains Gore-Tex technology, as well as as dual entry pockets, and an interior zip pocket. All three of those functions

As stated in out other techwear breakdowns, the idea behind technical clothing is to remain as highly functional as possible, while providing the clothing with some of the most powerful fabric technology. That is what Gray Man does to a high degree, only the style doesn’t concern itself with wanting to be noticeable. The clothing is highly functional without appearing to be that way. Being indiscreet isn’t what the normal techwear style is mostly concerned with, but that is sure the aim in the Gray Man.

The Gray Man clothing still retains high functionality, though it is not meant to look that way. The aesthetic has been dialed back quite a bit, though majority of the fabric within said clothing still offers up that same high function as the rest of technical clothing. That is the whole idea behind the Gray Man aesthetic. Keep the high function but do it in a way that no one would notice. The function of the clothes matches most of the other techwear subclasses, it just doesn’t concern itself with looking the most flamboyant.

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