Set up by Mark Smith and Neil Summers, Proper Magazine is known for its features of quality outerwear and lighthearted banter. Over the last few years the magazine has grown into a globally recognised media platform and now their very own brand, Hikerdelic. We caught up with both Mark and Neil, for our latest ‘How We Got Here’ feature for an exclusive insight into the world of all things Proper!
First of all give us some background about how you both got involved in the industry to doing what you do now?
Mark:- It was a slow and almost accidental process. We grew up in the same town a few years apart, both into similar stuff. We met at a call centre in about 1999 and bonded over a pritt-stick joke. Over the next few years we created propermag.com in our spare time, and began releasing a fanzine, with no real vision for where it would take us. In the last 5 years things have really stepped up, partly through us getting pretty good at what we do and partly through becoming better networked. We went full time with it at the start of 2016.
You guys have just collaborated with Barbour how did all that come about?
Neil:- It started about two years ago when I interviewed Barbour’s head of menswear Ian Bergin at their head office up in South Shields. Before the interview I gave him a pair of Hikerdelic socks and he was very impressed with them and suggested we should do something together. As well as being one of the most clued up blokes in the industry he’s also a man of his word and the Barbour x Hikerdelic collection now exists and is selling like hot cakes.
How do you think ‘streetwear’ in particular has changed over the last 5 years and where do you see it heading in the future?
Mark:- Everything seems to go through cycles, now more than ever. The internet has brought an immediacy that wasn’t there before and it has taken some of the organic feel of trends away. It’s progress though and I think the brands who are at the forefront are the ones who are disrupting the traditional way of doing things. They’re realising tone of voice and content are probably more important now than the clothing itself. It’s harder to distinguish between streetwear and just ‘clothes’ these days though.
Neil:- I think more outdoor and sports brands have caught on to the fact that their products are popular in urban environments which has led to some interesting products both good and bad.
What have you enjoyed and not enjoyed so much working on Proper and what can we expect from the media side for the remainder of 2019?
Mark:- The variety of stuff we do keeps things mega interesting. We still have the magazine and website at the heart of what we do, and always will. But more and more we’re working with brands on various projects, whether it’s PR or consulting on brand direction and re-positioning. We work on an ongoing basis with C.P. Company as well as outdoor and sportswear brands. In addition, Hikerdelic is growing all the time and is taking more and more time, which is a good thing.
Neil:- People send me nice clothes and fly me round the world plus I get to work with my best mate everyday. Life could be worse. We’re currently working on the next magazine which is the Autumn issue and surprise, surprise it’s got loads of amazing jackets in it!
Give us some of your personal styles, trainers etc of all time and why?
Mark:- This question is always tough because it usually depends on what side of the bed I’ve got out of. At the moment it’s Reebok Classics of varying styles. Saucony and Karhu are a nice alternative to the big two. In the end, I just throw on whatever I feel like in a morning. I’m always in a hurry so there’s very little thought goes into it.
Neil:- I have no idea what my personal style is to be honest. I’m currently living in RRL jeans, Hikerdelic t-shirts, Keen sandals or our Novesta collab and a Haglofs Grym Evo jacket when it rains.
The ‘streetwear scene’ has become a global thing in recent years thanks to Instagram and the accessibility of product. Do you think there still exists a North/South divide in terms of style in particular in Manchester to say London?
Mark:- I think what drives people to wear what they wear is a mixture of things, part of which will always be rooted in geography. The internet and social media have dominated a bit more in recent years though, so it’s definitely changed. But there’s still a divide, just less noticeable. I notice it more at football than anywhere else. If you go to a small town with one shop selling half-decent stuff, you’ll notice the brands they stock being more popular. Bigger cities are a lot more open minded.
Neil:- I think the internet has democratised the divide somewhat and regional tribes are much less of a thing. That said we do dress far better in Manchester than anywhere else, obviously.
If you had to give some advice for those looking to become the next big thing in the clothing/trainer writing world what it be?
Mark:-In terms of writing, people need to have a point of view that is well informed. Overall though, be yourself. Everyone else is a dickhead.
Neil:- Don’t do it for the money, do it because you love it.
Lastly what do you guys do when you are not writing/working on Hikerdelic etc
Mark:- Away from work there’s barely any serious time to do anything. I’ve got three kids who range from 4 to 16 so one day I’m demanding lego be tidied up while hopping around in bare feet, while the other I’m fielding requests for cash and asking why my coats have started being hung up in a wardrobe that isn’t mine. August-May I make time for mediocre football watching, which the kids have inherited. Stockport County, FWIW. Oh and I still play 5-a-side and try and go to the gym 2-3 times a week.
Neil:- I live pretty close to the Peak District so my family and I like to get out there as much as possible going hiking, swimming, bike riding or just stuffing our faces with Bakewell puddings. When not doing that I’m usually reading the autobiographies of ex-members of the SAS or watching Italian TV shows like Gomorrah or Suburra.