Sort of like Eunice Huthart smashing through that massive sheet of card at the end of the Eliminator on Gladiators, Mark and Neil of Proper Magazine fame have recently busted beyond paper to enter the material world of clothing.
Under the name Hikerdelic, their wares are an ode to the glory days of hiking gear, with a slight hint of acid house flavour.
I met them by the Rochdale Canal to find out a bit more…
You’ve been making Proper Magazine for a while now – but what made you want to start Hikerdelic?
Mark: It started as a pun. Psychedelic hiking – Hikerdelic.
Neil: A portmanteau!
Mark: Yeah, I think that’s what it is. It’s quite straight forward. I used the word back in 2012, just in a throwaway tweet, and was surprised to find that no-one had ever said that word before. I thought that was a bit weird as it was quite an obvious play on words.
Back then we’d use it as an umbrella term for anything that was a bit mad, and outdoorsy. We did Issue 12 of the magazine, with Ben Lamb’s artwork on the front — and then we did a collaboration with Topo Designs using that artwork on a t-shirt, but after that, we didn’t really do anything with it.
It was only when we started doing Proper full time that we started thinking about it again. Because we spend all this time writing about clothes and about why hoods are good and where pockets should be on a jacket, it seemed right to put our jacket where our mouth is…
Maybe a daft question – but what does ‘hikerdelic’ mean to you lot? How do you define that mysterious word?
Neil: It kind of reflects the duplicity of our upbringing in Stockport. On one side of Stockport you’ve got the Peak District with all the trees and the hills, and on the other, there’s the precincts and car parks and concrete. Growing up, there was always people wandering about in Berghaus and Sprayway – this really technical outdoors stuff – but it wasn’t always for going out to the hills – a lot of the time it was being worn by scallies on mountain bikes selling weed on the estate.
“It was fit for purpose, because you’d come out of the rave and it’d be freezing, so to avoid hypothermia you’d whack your Berghaus on.”
Mark: It’s something you can transpose to other parts of the world too. If you’re in Cardiff or Leeds or Sheffield – you’re in a city, but you’ve got hills nearby.
Why do you think the North West in particular has that obsession with hiking gear?
Neil: It’s from rubbing shoulders with people who use it. There’s the Peak District, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and Wales all on our doorstep. And then if you’re in the city and its pissing it down, you need similar clothing. There’s also that one-upmanship thing of knowing you shouldn’t be wearing it.
Mark: Without people making a conscious decision, the North West has always gone against the grain. If the epicentre of fashion is London, then whatever they’re doing, we’ll do the opposite. If they’re all dressing up in designer names, the opposite of that is making something from a totally different mind-set look cool.
Yeah – it’s the contrary attitude. What sort of stuff do you remember people wearing growing up? How far were people taking the outdoor thing back then?
Neil: I always remember back in 1989 when I was at Stockport College, I was sat in a pub in Cheadle wearing a ¼ zip Berghaus fleece with all these different panels on, and then my mate walked in with a pink Berghaus fleece. I remember thinking that he’d kind of beaten me with that pink fleece. We were going nightclubbing, but we looked like we were going caving.
But it was fit for purpose, because you’d come out of the rave and it’d be freezing, so to avoid hypothermia you’d whack your Berghaus on. Looking back now, North Face and Patagonia were amazing back then, but you’d never see them. It was always Berghaus or Lowe Alpine.
Mark: I’m a little bit younger – so whilst that was happening I’d be out on a space-hopper wearing a ski jacket from C&A.
Do you think all the bells and whistles on outdoor gear plays a part in the obsession? Pockets and zips and stuff always get a bit of attention.
Neil: I think it was tribalism. In those rave days you’d travel around a bit – and when you went to the Midlands, people would be wearing trousers and boots, whilst we were stood there dressed like we were going bouldering or something. No one was arsed, but they’d look at you and think, “They must be from Reddish.” You could tell where people were from.
What were the other regional styles?
Neil: Nottingham and Birmingham were a lot smarter. And then you could always tell Mancs and Scousers apart. Everything is a bit more democratized with the internet now.
Mark: I still think when I go to the football I can tell where people are from. I can tell whether they’re from Sheffield or Leeds or down south. I can definitely tell when they’re a Scouser.
Yeah, especially when they’ve got the ultra-tech outdoor stuff on and the Pot Noodle haircut.
Mark: It’s a designer look, but it’s all outdoor gear.
Neil: It’s massively tribal for outdoor stuff over there. One gang will only wear Mammut, whilst the other one will only wear Berghaus. That’s intrinsically Scouse. I don’t think you can tell if someone’s from Leeds though.
A lot of those hiking brands have never really acknowledged the fact that they’ve got this whole other fan-base. Is there a beauty in that?
Marl: People like to own the trend, rather than be told what the trend is. People don’t want to be cashed in on.
Neil: It’s like the Barbour shop in town. I used to go in there years ago and there’d be a woman on the till in a twin set and pearls, looking at you as if to say, “What’s he after?”. Her hand would be hovering over the panic button. It was the same with Aquascutum too. But then I went in to the Barbour shop one day and it was like an indie disco. They’d got rid of the old dears and everyone was in skinny jeans. I still liked the product, but they’d gone cool.
Mark: I think they’re one of the few brands who’ve managed to do both. They’re still true to what they are whilst credibly putting their foot into a more trend-based environment.
Neil: Have you ever been to the Barbour factory?
Neil: It’s amazing. I’m not one for national pride, but I came out of there thinking, “Oh right, we do do some good stuff in this country. There’s a great story to be had there too about the woman who works in Department B – the area where people send jackets in to be repaired.
“We didn’t want to read articles about £20,000 watches and how to put a tuxedo on.”
She’s got so many stories about things people have brought in… there’s jackets with pockets filed with envelopes stuffed with cash, bullet holes and dog bites. someone left their keys to Windsor Castle or Sandringham or somewhere in one of their jacket pockets and had to send a car to pick them back up.
Mark: Some of the jackets that people send back are like Trigger’s broom in Only Fools and Horses.
Haha yeah – no original parts. Going back to Hikerdelic – how does all this stuff go into the clothes? Being into jackets is one thing, but how do you go about turning that obsession into making new stuff?
Mark: The thing I’ve had to embrace is that if you try and make the world’s best jacket, like Homer Simpson’s car, it’ll end up looking ridiculous. You’ve got to bring yourself back down to earth.
No disrespect, but I suppose it’s hard for you two to compete with massive outdoor brands.
Neil: Yeah – it’s got to be a bit like how we do the magazine. The magazine was something we did for ourselves, as it didn’t exist. We didn’t want to read articles about £20,000 watches and how to put a tuxedo on. I think Hikerdelic is the same – pretty selfishly, it’s what we want to wear.
Mark: Like with the magazine or the website – we didn’t come into it all after doing six years of website design…
Neil: We completely blagged it.
Mark: Yeah, it’s trusting your judgement and blagging it. We’re learning as we go. The main thing is that everything has to be fit for purpose. We’re not going to charge Gore-Tex prices for something without Gore-Tex. We’re not claiming to be at the forefront of mountain climbing gear.
Neil: It’s more for educated scallies.
In a sort of fantasy football, no-holds-barred type scenario, what would you want to be making with Hikerdelic? What’s the dream?
Neil: Personally, I’d like to make loads of down gilets like Crescent Down Works. But that’s pretty basic – it wouldn’t be massively complicated.
Mark: I never wear gilets – so my bit would be different. I’m yet to be married, so I’d like some sort of corduroy suit, that isn’t a suit. Like Wes Anderson, but a bit less formal. Almost like a cord tracksuit – but not a tracksuit.
You mentioned Crescent Down Works before. What other stuff are you lot into?
Neil: Adsum always come up in conversation. Everything they do is mint. And then Pop Trading – I really like them too. Aime Leon Dore too. Brands like that keep things exciting - they’re not reinventing the wheel, they’re just doing things really well.
Mark: It’s a dead obvious one, but I like Palace. I like how they do all these different things that are basically inspired by things from the 90s. It’s not dead expensive either.
Neil: And C.P. Company too. They’ve been doing some really good things lately.
I think I’ve run out of questions now. Do you know any good jokes?
Mark: It’s two and a half thousand years since Pythagoras died. He’s up there with the angles now.