Comfort, Quality, and Function Outdoors with @l.holl's Louis Hollinson
by Nova / Marianna Mukhametzyanova·
2021 was the year of the waterproof Arc’teryx jacket, the Salomon sneaker, the Snow Peak camping tent and those vast, grandiose mountains or trees that loomed overhead in your latest IG post. This year, exploring nature outdoors became cooler than backing beers in your local watering hole, all thanks to a little industry or movement called ‘fashion’. If you want to dig a tad deeper into the cause and effect, then you’ll come across a handful of individuals and their respective Instagram accounts that have propelled this trend forward tenfold. Enter Louis Hollinson, perhaps better known as @l.holl, one of the big names in the equation.
Louis created the @l.holl Instagram account because he wanted to collate and share his favourite fashion, nature and outdoor wear references with others, alongside personal snaps of him and his friends in nature. A couple of years later the page has become a gathering spot for knowledgable and curious outdoor enthusiasts, those who love climbing hills and rocks whilst looking cool and photo worthy. IG pages like these uphold the strength and sentiment behind the community, bring individuals with shared interests together, and keep the excitement around the trend going. When this many people are involved, and when the images look this good, who needs a Wetherspoons?
I’d spoken to some of my friends about the @l.holl account before interviewing its owner. I found it funny that often the first thing that people mentioned was the leaf DP image the account has, as if the account itself was literally run by a piece of green and blade-like foliage. That’s how little people actually know about Louis Hollinson. And that’s how excited we are about wrapping up this Arc’teryx, Salomon, Snow Peak heavy year with an interview with the man himself. Greater Goods & Greater Greens?
Louis is a humble and reflective character with an incredible amount of industry knowledge. A cultural gatekeeper in the making. Read the in-depth interview below with all shots taken by Louis himself. Much green, very nature, many leaf. Here we talk about @l.holl’s beginning, favourite brands, inspiring individuals, the importance of wellness, mental health and sticking together, what the industry will look like next year and much, much more. Here's to 2022!
Hey Louis. Thanks for talking with us. Can you start off by introducing yourself, what you do and what you’re interested in?
Hey. I’m Louis, I'm 21, and I’m originally from Devon. I do lots of different things: styling, creative direction, and I run @l.holl which is a page where I like to try and inspire people to get outside by using fashion as the catalyst for it, a way to make it look cool if you like.
Make it look cool. What does that mean?
Going outside before wasn’t really cool, was it? And now it is. I think it’s mostly because of all of this functional clothing that's blown up recently. I think people want to justify themselves wearing those items so they've decided to go outside. Hopefully they've come to realise that this is actually really fun, actually good for you. Similarly, that’s the goal of the @l.holl account.
So how did the @l.holl account start? Talk me through it.
I've always been into fashion. I used to put clothes and things related to style on my personal account. I really thought that no one was interested and it was just annoying for everyone. I made another one and was putting everything I liked there, references of all sorts. Slowly I started getting a little bit of a following and I was like, ‘oh, maybe I should put more effort into it’. And then it developed really naturally from there.
At the time I was going out into nature with my friends anyway and I was taking loads of photos, and also at the same time more of my friends started getting into the clothing side of things. I was snapping photos of them whilst they were being active. It wasn’t even staged. Say they’re jumping into a river or swinging off a tree or something, I'll be in the corner capturing it all and then putting it onto @l.holl.
Do you have a background in photography or is that something that you’re just interested in?
Nah, I’ve never done anything photography-related. It’s all on my phone. Every photo that's on that account has been taken on my phone. First of all, I didn't have a camera. And then second of all, when it got a bit of a following and I still hadn’t used a camera, I was like, well, it's actually quite authentic that way. More relatable. You have those big photography accounts with these amazing photos; definitely they’re really nice but at the end of the day you can't really relate to that photo because you never really see that kind of thing in real life. Snapping it on your iPhone or smartphone, well pretty much everyone is able to do that.
Yeah agreed. It’s more aspirational that way and easier for the general public to relate to. I can look at an image on your page and think that if I spend £400 on that jacket I can take a similar photo. People are using pages like yours to pattern their lifestyle and how they appear on IG.
Yeah for sure. And another thing is people running or people in motion. I’ve been seeing it in all of these brand campaigns as well. Blurred photos of someone running in a Gore-Tex jacket or something. Those photos are the kind of photos that the IG account was built on.
You started the page when the trend wasn’t that big and now it really is that big. What are your thoughts on it becoming a little bit more mainstream?
It doesn’t bother me. I think that it’s good that people are getting outside more. One of the main reasons for promoting getting outside for me is that it's going to be good for your mental health. I think the more people that are outside reaping those benefits the better. But then you do get people that just buy mad outdoor stuff, stuff that’s so expensive and so specific and they're just wearing it to walk through the street in the sun.
I fully back the idea that going into nature is really good for your mental health, but I think there are also people that have become so consumed with this whole outdoor-wear trend that they're purposely trying to fit in these nature visits or make friends with people who also wear those garms to then post on IG.
Yeah I think social media is such a difficult one because at one point it can have so many benefits, but then if you just end up scrolling for ages and start comparing yourself to others then your perceived self drops. It's just not very good for you is it? I think you've got to be careful and have balance.
What do you think it takes to be a good content curator in 2021?
Authenticity. That's probably it. Whatever you're doing and whatever you’re trying to make content about, the biggest word is authenticity. If it’s not authentic then no one's going to engage with that content properly. They’ll be like “that piece of content has been made to sell me this”. Obviously at the start I didn't have brands talking to me or anything like that, I was just like making what I thought was cool. It was all me and my friends and it's still me and my friends. It’s what I’m already doing through a lens, basically. It's so cliche, but like, that's what it is.
Okay I’m going to play devil’s advocate which is what I always do. Isn’t being in an Arc’teryx jacket and beanie, an andwander pair of pants and Salomon trainer a very staged kind of thing?
Yeah I know a lot of people like that and to an extent, obviously that's me as well. If I can look good doing the thing that I enjoy then I will. I've been into fashion for a while so if I can blend those my love for nature and my love for fashion together then I will.
I don’t really wear Arc’teryx too much. I wear the jackets because I just think they’re the best. I’m not all Arc’ed out though, I’m not all matched looking like a ninja. It’s more like me - when it’s raining - taking some Arc and blending with other pieces. If it’s not raining then I’ll wear a lot of Patagonia. I like putting on some South2 West8 trousers. I’ve got some Needles pieces.
Also, Simms is a wicked brand. Stuff like this Simms jacket that I have, it wasn't a very well known thing. It’s a fishing brand for your old man kind of guy. It used to be my dad’s and I just stole it from him. A few people have started picking it up recently. I’ve seen a few guys on Instagram selling it and hyping it up a bit.
It’s interesting how it literally has the same design as all these jackets that are popular right now.
Yeah. When I was first getting into it, going from vintage designer pieces… I guess it’s quite a typical development that people my age went through. You go from Supreme to designer bits like Stoney. When I was in that phase, I was looking at these jackets and thinking ‘this is actually sick and no one else wears it. Finally I can actually go and pick my own style’, fine tune it a little.
When I first came across those kinds of jackets, the Arc ones, I did think they’re crazy expensive. And then I saw this Simms one at home and was like yeah it might not be Arc but that's probably way cooler. No one's got that. I'm here with something that no one else has got and I don't even know what it is. I don't even know what the model is. I’ve had it for ages and I have no clue, and I like that.
Well I think that’s what’s happening in the trend now. People that have money and don’t have taste - those people are really easy to pick out. What’s really important now in our industry is your knowledge, how well you know these niche brands, these hard to get pieces, these IG pages where you can source the one-of-a-kind bits. That’s why Nike Server has done so well for example. Feels like everyone’s trying to have more knowledge now to back up what they’re wearing and why they’re wearing it. Credibility is more important now in that sense.
I think that is completely true. I used to be like that. I went through a phase of reading everything and feeling like I needed to know everything about this and everything about that. There's so much out there now because it's become more popular. There are more write-ups about all these pieces, and of course more product. It's impossible to know everything. So now going into niches and archives etc, you want to know the really specific bits on what you’re actually truly interested in. You need to pick now otherwise it’s too much.
Completely agree. Feel like my experience was similar. Anyway, I saw on your LinkedIn that you did some stuff for Hiking Patrol?
That was just a bit of curating for the page. So the guy that runs it messaged me around the end of last year and he was like “do you want to help run it?”. He asked me and Patrick Stangbye if we want to help run it with him. It was literally selecting references and images to post on the Instagram. He was super busy so I was like “yeah course, let’s see how it goes”.
I’d just turned 21 and thought that yeah I might as well, that there might be some opportunities that come from it. We ran it for around 7 or 8 months and I gained loads of knowledge from that, it was great. I was learning a lot from both of them, the owner and Patrick. We had a chat where we used to talk about everything and anything about the space. I think he's doing his own thing now with Hiking Patrol.
And you just mentioned the word ‘curation’ and it’s also something on your LinkedIn. What does ‘curation’ mean to you?
That’s a great question. I guess it's just putting a bunch of references that you find cool together into a piece of work. When I curate a post I’m thinking that this could go in there and that person could go over there. You think about it subconsciously. If it looks right then it makes sense, holistically, if that makes sense? I guess if you break it down it’s like, have I got a balance between the feeling I’m trying to get across? It’s not primarily focused on the brand but more so focused on what they’re doing outdoors and what general sentiment is coming across.
I think that’s the main thing about it. Someone’s running next to a waterfall or someone is jumping off a rock into a river or someone is climbing a tree, but while they’re doing it they’re wearing some cool stuff. The clothing is secondary and I think that’s what people find cool about it, that you’re not screaming about the clothes that you’re wearing, you’re screaming about the act of going outside, nature, the moment when you hang the hammock up somewhere, all whilst you’re in a sick fit.
Yeah. The reason I also ask is because photo dumps on Instagram have become such a big thing. Every time someone posts one that’s them curating a 10-image representation of their lifestyle. They’re thinking ‘what do these 10 images say about me to my followers?’ It seems like everyone is becoming a curator.
I think that's what social media just makes you do. You present yourself without someone meeting you just through photos and maybe a caption. I hate captions.
Why do you hate captions?
I like it when someone can’t see me. I like being behind the scenes I guess. But even though this account is mine, most people don't know who’s behind it and that’s how I like it. I wouldn’t want my personal opinion to be layered over these posts. Even this interview is new territory for me. I guess I just want to be subtle.
Yeah. It’s just your personality type as well. I do think your approach works for outdoor wear too. You can post a sick photo with a leaf emoji and it works.
Yeah aha, and that’s that. Just some green emojis.
Okay so what does ‘Comfort, Quality and Function’ mean to you, as per your IG?
The three things that I would look for in a garment. So the first aspect, I won't buy something if it's not comfortable. I just think it's stupid. The first thing that I was into when I was younger when it came to fashion was trainers. I was like 15 when that whole Ultraboost phase was in. I was wearing that kind of stuff because it was genuinely so comfy. And then one time a friend of a friend had these Balenciaga Arenas on - basically a big Converse. I thought they were pretty sick at the time.
He was like, “yeah, they're like 500 quid”. I was like, “oh nice, are they comfy?” and he was like “not really” and I remember being shocked. You’re walking around uncomfortable all day and you’ve paid that much. It really did not make sense to me. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get into that world, plus skinny jeans etc. That's just not comfortable for me. When I was in school everyone was wearing skinny jeans and that was when it was cool. At that point I was getting into cargos and you know when you have those wear your own clothes to school days? I went into school wearing those and everyone’s like “oh look it’s Steve Backshall” and calling me an explorer. I remember being like “mate, give it a couple years and you’ll be wearing them!” ahah. See I’ve literally been comfortable for years.
It’s been cosy season for you for a while now.
Literally. I’ve been cosy my whole life. I’ve got loads of fleeces and loads of big baggy trousers and all of the shoes that I wear are comfortable. If they’re not comfy they’ll just sit in the box.
I think that feeds into ‘function’ as well because… say you're in the rain. You could be comfy in a fleece on a normal day but today you're not going to be comfy because you're soaked. If you’re wearing waterproof material though, then there you go, you’ve got comfort. Comfort and function go together seamlessly.
And then ‘quality’, it’s going to last for ages. It's sustainable to an extent. You can wear it as much as you like. You can go and use it for its intended purpose and it's not going to break. You’re not going to throw it away after a few wears - it’s a waste of material, a waste of money and a waste of time as well. I’ll have to go out looking for another thing and I don’t need to do that.
I’ve actually never thought about it like that. That’s so true. I guess sometimes my gripe is over how expensive these items truly are but I have to admit that I forget just how high quality these pieces really are and their intended purpose. So okay, in terms of materials, how do you feel about sustainability? Where does this sit in the picture for you, seeing as it does tie in with outdoor wear so much?
I don't actually know that much about materials. I didn't do fashion at university and I've never been taught about it from that perspective, if you know what I mean? I’ve looked up a few things here and there when it feeds into stuff.
Obviously sustainability is a huge thing for the outdoors and it's kind of a paradox, how the outdoors has grown so much and now people are consuming a ridiculous amount of outdoor related stuff. It’s this complete contradiction.
Now brands will give me items for promo and the likes. I’ve acquired a decent amount of stuff now so I guess that is also consumption. But before that, if I was going to buy something, I was going to try and buy it second hand, in good condition, and I’m going to sell something to offset the purchase price.
I needed to sell stuff to then buy stuff and I would always try and buy second hand because then that’s one less thing that will be bought new. If I sell something, that’s another thing that won’t need to be made and bought again, you know what I mean? Doing that transaction, that’s two less pieces that have been bought brand new.
That’s a really good point. Making people want to buy vintage clothes or archive pieces from 50 years ago, that’s a really big thing now. People will pay more to buy a 20 year old Arc piece than something that’s launched last month in the shop. It’s had a good effect on that aspect of things.
Yeah, like some of my old Patagonia fleeces, there are two that - well the current equivalent of them is nowhere near as valuable as those pieces now. It’s just a good thing that that sort of stuff is hyped up now and respected more in a way?
That green one is so beautiful. Looks like money to be honest.
Yeah yeah [laughs]. I was looking for that for a long time.
So you’ve touched on this but what do you think is the connection between nature and fashion?
I feel people enjoy the outdoors because it’s quite an inspiring place. I get a lot of inspiration from that. I also think that a lot of people that enjoy it are fairly creative people. I don’t if that's true but it seems to me that that's the case. It just links doesn't it?
Creative people will be into design, fashion, whatever it is, it'll be sort of a creative outlet and fashion is a huge part of the creative industry. And obviously, going outdoors has just been huge in the last couple of years since lockdown because it's the only thing you can do whilst also being the thing that you're not allowed to do as well, you're not allowed to go outside.
Yeah true. I think the connection is also that before people used to dress up for others and now there's more of a focus on dressing up for yourself. It’s not just about walking down the high road and people looking at your outfit, but about feeling good about yourself, being happy and upholding your mental health, I think that's kind of how it ties in with nature as well. Like feeling your best self in an environment that makes you your best self. Nature!
That’s very true. I definitely think that dressing for yourself is way more of a thing. When I was younger and less mature with my fashion choices, I used to look on Instagram and see the Yeezys and think, ‘whoa, everyone loves them. If I have them, everyone will think this guy's sick’.
But now I’m looking through stuff and I see something and go ‘no one knows about that!’ and that’s where the thrill comes from. It’s like the complete opposite. It’s not like I don’t want someone to pick up on what I’m wearing, but if someone does, then I’m like ‘nice!’.
So when did you get into fashion or begin to have an interest in how you looked?
Maybe when I was like 13 or 14 it was all about shoes, and then when I hit 16 I was really into Stoney and Polo Sport and the like. When I got into uni, so around the age of 18, that was when I got into outdoor stuff.
When I was at school and was wearing Stoney and all that stuff, not many people were into fashion and there were a handful of people that would know what I’m wearing even though it was the most bait stuff back then. Then I got to uni in Bristol and everyone was dressed the exact same as me. I was like ‘damn, I’m going to have to do something here’.
Because in school I’d wear some Air Max 95s or some TNs and a few people would be like ‘wow you never see them around here’. Which was true because in Devon you don’t see that stuff as much. You don’t see actual good fits. When you walk through London you see people that are wearing your niche and it’s like, ah okay it’s not as rare as I thought, but like, down here, I just don’t see it.
But yeah, I got to Bristol and I was dressed the same as everyone there. I hadn’t realised. I switched it up and then it took a few years and now everyone in Bristol is still wearing the Air Maxes but also completely kitted out in the Arcs and stuff.
It’s standing out versus fitting in. In Manchester for example every guy who’s into fashion here is wearing the same thing. Snow Peak, Arc’teryx, baggy pants, side bags, the Salomons, the 95s, and I’m literally like wow you all look the same.
Yeah I know what you mean.
Cool. When did you notice the outdoor industry begin to blow up? Was there a moment or time period you remember where you felt like it all kicked off?
Probably when I started getting regularly followed every day, and when I started seeing a lot more accounts like mine getting big. 114.index popped up around the same time, and Hiking Patrol was actually after me, but it’s huge now.
So maybe like a year and a half ago? I think I've sort of grown with it because I got into it before all of that. I hit it at the right time I guess. Do you think it’s peaked already then? Or do you think it’s coming?
Nah not yet but I do think it’s coming. I have no idea what’s going to happen next.
It's so saturated now. A lot of the stuff that's coming out, it's like… I'm just not that inspired by it. I think new stuff needs to start happening because it's all the same right now.
Yeah agreed. I don’t know what that new stuff would be though.
I’ve thought about it a lot.
What do you think is going to happen?
What I hope will happen is that it will be more outdoor-based and that the outdoors will become a fundamental part of these people's lives and the fashion aspect will come second. And I hope that they'll pull different things from different brands, that they'll mix stuff up. So you won’t have to have waterproof trousers with a waterproof jacket and some Salomons. That is not the set thing.
The main thing right now is Arc and then Salomon. People think that if they want to be into this area then that’s what they’ve got to wear. I want people to put their own spin on it.
That would be nice but that’s also the thing that I was saying about good taste. You have good taste because you’re able to pick things out that no one else is, but I think very few people have that, realistically thinking. It’s actually a lot easier to put together a stereotypical sick outdoor fit than it is to put together a sick luxury fashion fit.
Like someone who has good taste is JJJJound. He seems like such an interesting character as well, being into furniture and design. And that’s another thing I’m seeing. Design is becoming a lot more important to people.
Yeah, I think he was a big inspiration as well for me. I like the way that you didn’t even know who he was and what it was - there's no explanation for JJJJound. Like what is it? It’s just some design studio, isn’t it, and I was like, oh, that's cool. I've never really thought about it like that, that could be like a definite inspiration for me.
And that fits in with the whole enigma thing we were talking about. Where does this jacket come from? Where did this person find this?
Yeah, for sure.
So a bit of a personal question. Do you have any recollections or examples of you being in nature and being hit with feeling or emotion, something a little deeper than the everyday thought?
Yeah, loads. Too many to mention. I spent and am spending a lot of time outside. A couple of examples would be like last year when it was lockdown, I wasn’t going to sit in my place in Bristol with the rain pouring down on my birthday while all my close friends were dotted around the country. I was like, “right, let’s go to Snowdon, let’s climb Snowden on my birthday”.
I got an Airbnb, brought everyone up, had a couple of nights there, went up Snowdon on my birthday, snow crazy deep. I've got all my good mates around me and we're up on some massive mountain. Even the drive there, you're driving through mountains, it’s so much better than going to a little park in Bristol or something. I could be there or I could be on a mountain covered in snow, sliding down it.
Everyone's having so much fun. It's wholesome. No one's doing anyone else any harm. The only people you see up there are people doing the same thing, even older people are like “ah, it’s such a lovely day!”. You have a nice chat. It's just good vibes all around, just so good. So that's one example.
That’s a great answer.
It’s just so fun. You forget about everything else. You don’t see anything that reminds you of normal life. You can be somewhere really remote and look around, and not see anyone for miles. Thinking this is me, I can do whatever I like, I’m just here, whether I’m on my own or with someone else, I’m just here and it’s so beautiful.
Beautiful. What have been some of your highlights so far with running @l.holl? I imagine you’ve met some cool people and made some friends here and there?
Yeah. I remember in the early days getting a repost on some massive page and being like, wow. It’s not that deep but back then it was like, okay so over 200k people have just seen that. I guess that’s a highlight in a way but it becomes less of a highlight as you go on.
I think mostly the best thing about it is meeting people like me. I've been invited to a few things and I actually met Jaimus from having the page. I've met a lot of people that I’ve followed for a long time that have inspired me in the past.
A lot of these people are older than me so they have been on it for a longer time, way before I started the page. I’ve met the people that I've looked up to and followed for time. And then there’s the people that you don’t know already and you start fresh and realise that they know the same stuff as you, have the same interests, the same views on the space. That’s really nice.
At school, I didn't really talk to people about clothes or anything. At uni I did a bit more but it would mostly be about that bait stuff, like what we spoke about before. I wouldn’t be able to dive into some obscure thing and talk to someone about it because it would just be a one way conversation. Meeting people that are like doing stuff in the scene, it's really nice. Inspiring as well.
Yeah, finding like-minded people who love fashion but also have very similar outlooks on why they dress the way they dress, I can see why that’s really important to you.
Mm, and what you’re into is usually just based on references that you’ve built up and been exposed to throughout your whole life. Someone that likes the same thing as me is likely to have experienced all these similar references that I have and that’s why they think it’s cool. Then you’re like, “yeah, I’ve got loads to talk about with you”, know what I mean?
For sure. Okay so we know that community is a big thing in the scene that we’re talking about. Have you seen any communities come together off of the back of the outdoor industry?
Yeah, definitely. What I wanted to do with @l.holl was like, ‘this is what’s on my doorstep, what’s on your doorstep?’ sort of thing. ‘I can go out and find this. Can you go out and find something similar?’
By putting my friends on my page, it shows that not only are you going outside in some sick clothes, but that you’re building connections between yourself and others. So if two people are working together on something in a photo or two people are chatting, that shows that personal interaction, you know?
I actually took a photo in Snowdon and it was these two guys that I didn’t know. I thought it would be a sick photo so I took it. They were on this rock, halfway up Snowdon Peak, and there was a massive frozen-over lake, and huge mountains on either side. A big bowl basically. They were just sitting on this rock, eating sandwiches, just chatting. I knew that that photo that I took meant a lot: it doesn’t just mean going outside, it’s showing a connection between these two people, they’re looking at this together, they’re sharing a conversation, and they’ve got up here together, walked up.
Putting my friends on @l.holl, that’s such a key part. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I wouldn’t be into it as much probably. It’s so important. I owe them a lot. It’s a big thing for wellness too. You can go outside on your own but going outside with friends is another big thing for me.
That’s really nice as well.
And one thing that’s always been important for me with the page is to build a community. So I always tell my followers to tag me in their photos and then on Friday, I’ll do a post slideshow of 10 of my favourite photos of that week. It gets people more interested in what you’re actually trying to do and then at the same time I’m connecting people in the comments.
I’m able to talk to people that have the same interests but then, since I’ve got the following, I’ve been able to allow other people to connect with others with similar interests. So, chances are, if you’re following me then you have similar things to talk about. Those people are probably going to get on so why not?
Yeah I think ‘connection’ is a really good word there. If you’re sharing then you’re going to get more people into it and then more people will connect. I think that’s such a good mindset to have because it doesn’t have to be exclusive for it to be good.
Yeah you want more people to enjoy what you’re enjoying. That’s the whole reason I’m doing anything. I want people to enjoy the outdoors. I want people to enjoy the clothes. I want people to enjoy the friendships and the connections that you get.
Might shed a tear! Okay. What are some of your favourite fashion brands that aren’t connected to the outdoors and nature, the whole trend that’s happening right now?
Haha, what ones are there? I like South2 West8 and Needles but that is kind of related. I think the former is a fishing related brand?
Are there any brands that you might not necessarily wear but you still appreciate?
Prada… well, Prada Sport, not sure if that counts? But that is a brand where I can look at every piece in a collection and be like, yeah, that’s really nice. Who else hmm? I’d say Paria Farzaneh, Issey Miyake, Jun Takahashi and the Post Archive Faction, they’d be up there.
Cool. What about brands related to the outdoors?
Patagonia is always a big one. Obviously the clothes but then just the way that they operate, the way they treat their employees… I don’t think they gift anyone anything either? I guess it’s a bit of a paradox because they’re a massive company but I think they’re a good example of what an outdoor brand should be. Obviously Arc’teryx. Their stuff is technically really nice.
I wear a lot of stuff that’s like… so with trousers, I get hundreds of messages all the time about what trousers I’m wearing. I don’t really tell people but most of the time they are just old walking trousers. The new ones are all fitted technically but the old ones, they’re just like simple trousers.
I just get some wide walking trousers and then put a little shoelace at the bottom. It’s not technical at all honestly. Cut up some shoelaces and thread it round. Then people go crazy thinking they’re some top pair of trousers, and I’m like mate, that cost me fifteen quid.
And that’s what’s cool. Money doesn’t buy you good taste or style. It’s knowing how to be flexible and use what you have. And it’s about how you make something look good on you as well. If it doesn’t fit you, it doesn’t fit you. If it doesn’t suit you, it doesn’t.
Yeah people just want IDs without considering whether it’s their style or why they like it. It’s just like… ID, ID, ID, ID, ID!
It’s mad that it defeats the purpose of going into nature for your mental wellbeing and then spending your whole day on Instagram.
Yeah, definitely not what it’s all about.
So we kind of touched on this, but do you think that at some point the industry will hit a peak and the trend will wear away?
I feel like, well, what more is there that it can do? Like with skate a couple of years ago, it was high fashion brands collabing with a skate brand, and then it hit the peak and slowly wore off. And it feels like that was when this outdoor thing started coming along. But that’s already happening with this industry to be honest. There are people drawing from the outdoor industry and then there are people fully collaborating together. The North Face and Gucci, as an example, or Arc’teryx and Jil Sander, which is crazy.
I also think the people that came along for the Arc’teryx hype or what not, those people will fade away and go on to what’s new, and then other people will be like, “nah, this is for me, I genuinely like the outdoors, I’m not here impress anyone, I’m into this, I’ve got a deep understanding, an actual passion for it, I’m going to stay here”. I think there will be a lot of people like that left behind.
Yeah. You seem quite emotionally intelligent from what I can tell, very in touch with your feelings and understanding of certain things. Do you think nature has allowed you, when you’re out with your friends, to maybe open up a bit more or express yourself better?
Yeah. Me and my friends are quite similar in that sort of way. We’re different in terms of interests but when it gets down to talking about mental health or how you’re feeling, I think we’re all quite in touch with that, with literally how things make us feel.
One of the things I learnt a couple of years ago when I was going through a rough patch was that, this thing here that’s happened, that’s already happened, so how is that making me feel? I was making myself notice how that was changing my mood, feelings, take on things, how it was changing my opinion on something or opinion of myself.
If you feel bad for a certain period of time, then you could try to link it to something else, an event. So yeah that's when I realised that taking notice of how you feel as much as possible is a huge thing, super important.
I also think a lot of people that I hang out with feel similar in that kind of way. We will try to look after ourselves as much as possible and look after each other as well. There's only so much you can do just by yourself. The human thing is cooperation, isn't it? You've got to work together.
That’s extremely true.
You gotta check up on your mates. The more comfortable you are with someone, the more you can share, and I think going outside does help with that. Outside, you're in a calm place. You're not gonna open up to someone about something deep when you’re on a busy street, carrying bags and there’s loads of noise around you, buses going past. I'm not going to have a deep conversation with someone in that situation.
It's hard to be present in those moments as well, sit and reflect about what’s going on because that takes time. And there’s no judgement in nature. I mean, who’s judging you? The trees aren’t judging you.
Yeah exactly. No judgement whatsoever.
What’s the connection you’re seeing today between outdoor apparel and footwear? Certain brands coming up?
I think trail running is quite a cool thing at the moment, and with Salomon being the biggest thing right now, it’s pushed that even further and opened the door for other running brands to come through.
It's a functional shoe. Just like a jacket can be a functional jacket, the fleece is functional fleece, there are shoes that also fit a purpose. Say with Vibram, they’ve obviously got the Vibram sole, and it’s functional isn’t it? Comfort, quality and function! More so than, say, the Air Max 1. If you’re on a trail in an AM1 and then you’re on a trail in an On shoe or a Salomon shoe, those are way more finely tuned for that situation.
It just goes together with the clothes. And then also, mules. I don’t really know why… like they aren’t that functional. They slip on and slip off. It’s a cool house shoe.
Yeah, your mule collection is actually sick.
Haha, yeah those sort of things that are coming up, they reference a lot of older stuff. So the old Nike ACG mules. They did loads back then, so many mad ACG designs from back then. Some of them are so ahead of their time, like the Ridgebacks and the Izys. Some of those are so cool and I think a lot of these are drawing a lot of inspiration from that. But mules just aren’t that functional, are they? I’m never going to go hiking in some Beatniks.
I guess it’s a way of bringing nature and the outdoors with the metropolitan city, into the everyday when you can’t actually be in nature but have that sense of style.
I was walking through London the other day and I was in some La Sportiva shoes and some hiking trousers and a Montbell jacket, and I was like, what am I doing? I literally just looked like I’d come off some expedition.
I am trying to diversify the wardrobe a little bit, put some smarter pieces in there.
Maybe that’s what the trend is going to be - not just outdoor wear but making it your own and making it fit the function of your everyday life.
Yeah putting your spin on it. Like, I will wear Beatniks if I’m in a town but then the rest of it will be some crazy technical piece. I think mixing the two together and only using it when and where you actually need it. Not wearing waterproof trousers on a sunny day for example, you don’t need to be Arc’ed up all the time… you can wear some fashion trousers or even some trackies. Different things work too.
I saw a picture of your car’s boot. What is all of that?
In the boot of my car I just have a cardboard box with everything for exploring nature. My mates have that as well. We’ve all got this box full of camping stuff, anything that you need. We used to go out for a day or something, like “ah, d’you wanna go for a swim?”, and we’ll go somewhere and we’ll be like “ah, mate, the sky’s so clear, the stars will be mad. I’ve got nothing to do tonight. Nothing to do tomorrow. Should we just go camp somewhere?”.
And we’ll just go find a little spot, go to the shop, get some food, cook it up, we’ve just got everything there ready so we can go whenever.
Really cool. What are some of your favourite apparel pieces? Your grails that you own or want to own?
Those two Patagonia fleeces. The green one is amazing although it is a bit too big for me. I don’t care. I love having it. I’ll swap it for the right size if I can but yeah, I’m just keeping that. That’s the Rhythm hoodie.
Hmm, grails. I used to have grails and have things that I really wanted but then it just lost that excitement angle. Now I’m just like, well, I’ve got things that I can use for that. There are obviously things that I’d like to have but I just feel like grails… I guess I’m not as interested in it anymore.
What do you interpret ‘grails’ to mean?
It’s the thing that you really, really want. It’s like, if you get that then you’ve completed it. You’re happy. Yet before, when I got something that I’d really, really wanted, I get it and then I’m like, I’ve got it now. It’s just a thing isn’t it?
Yeah that’s why I miss being a kid. We’re all too spoilt now. Get something and then straight away onto thinking about the next thing.
Yeah, exactly. What’s the next thing you can have? You’re just chasing something constantly and I don’t think that’s healthy. Before I had those fleeces they seemed so out of reach. I couldn’t imagine spending that much money. I’m just never going to have it so that means I really, really want it. And then you get it, and you’re like, now what? It hasn’t given me that overwhelming, happy feeling that I thought it was going to give me. It’s not that deep.
So a bit about people in the industry. Are there any individuals that you think are at the forefront of this whole outdoor movement, quite influential in the space?
Probably @organiclab.zip, very, very influential and he’s also a really nice guy. He seems to have been in it for a long time, knows a mad amount of stuff, has got a crazy amount of references, books, old catalogues etcetera. He’s been there from the start and put so many inspirational references out there for people to see. I think he’s a big one.
I think Rob Boyd is up there as well. He’s one of my favourite designers that’s in this sort of area. His stuff is really nice, really well thought through and I think it’s quite sophisticated as well.
Yeah, his work merges functionality with fashion very well. He creates actual high fashion pieces that are also functional. Focus on patterns, materials…
Yes, to make the patterns for those items takes a lot of time. You can see the work that’s gone into it just from looking at the piece. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. He’s definitely a bit of an inspiration. I actually met him at that Snow Peak event, not sure if you saw it?
The Snow Peak thing was the first thing that I had that brought other people from the same space and put them all in the same place. That was the first place where I felt like I was surrounded by people truly interested in the same things as me. People doing cool stuff, nice people with good ideas. It was great, honestly.
I feel like everyone else is quite a bit older than me in this space. But I tend to hang out with older people anyway.
Old man energy.
Literally, old man energy. People say that I’m an old man a lot. I literally am though. I just knock about in a fleece and love going for a coffee. But yeah, going out and meeting other people, brands bringing you together, I like that a lot.
I met Jaimus when I went to Scotland, as well as a few other people. And then the On Running event, we went to Chamonix and that was just so fun. Great times really. You bounce off each other. Your ideas are similar but like, you offer each other a different perspective on different things. There are new ideas there to be conjured up.
You’re meeting people that are just passionate. And sometimes, well this is what I’ve personally found, it can be quite overwhelming, but in a good way, when you’re surrounded by wicked people doing wicked shit.
Yeah, I was like woah, these guys know so much more than me. Normally, having not met people in the industry before, I know more than the person I’m speaking to about the thing I’m passionate about. It’s less interesting and too easy of a conversation to have. But when you talk to other people like that and they’re opening your eyes to different bits, it’s really interesting.
And the thing about passionate people, whether it’s something you’re passionate about or not, just seeing the passion that somebody else has can be really powerful. One of my good friends is into clothes a bit but his main thing is music, and he also loves food. The way he talks about those things, it’s just so passionate, and I’m just like, yes! I’m learning from you but you’re also expressing yourself which is good for you as well. It’s good for the soul init.
Those are really good points. I’m sure the way that you feel about people, people feel about you as well. What’s the best piece of advice someone’s ever given you, if anything comes to mind?
I don’t know if it’s the best but a good piece of advice is don’t let people take advantage of you and just do things for free. I think the best piece of advice is just to believe in your ability because it’s easy to be like ‘I’m not good enough for this’ or ‘I’m not knowledgeable enough to do this thing’, whatever, or not going through with an idea because you don’t think you’ll manage to start it up. But in reality it’s like, if you’ve come up with that idea, you must have some deeper knowledge. If it’s a good idea then you’ve come up with a good idea. You know the ins and outs of it. You can follow through with it.
I think it took a while for me to realise that I can actually do stuff. I do know enough and what I know is valuable. I have valuable views. I still have those thoughts where I’m like, I’m not good enough to do that, or that’s too out of my comfort zone, but yeah, I think believing in yourself - although difficult - pays off. It’s really powerful.
100%. It’s good to feel outside of your comfort zone too sometimes. If you’re always too comfortable, when are you going to learn? Grow and be a better person?
Definitely. You’ll just stay stationary. Even though it’s difficult, it’s worth doing.
What do you think makes good design, if you had to put it simply?
I think the most basic way to put it would be it looks good and it serves a purpose. That’s probably the most simple way to put it. But obviously with both of those things, you could just dive into them and ask ‘What makes it look good?’ and ‘What makes it functional, how does it actually serve the purpose?’. But yeah that’s the top-line.
Top-line and simple is good. Are there any other brands that you think are pushing the boundaries for outdoor wear capabilities?
There’s a brand called Black Yak. From what I’ve seen, they’ve put out some crazy stuff that I would like to try. Then there’s Descente ALLTERRAIN which is an interesting one. It’s really techy. It reminds me of Acronym quite a lot. Then of course you have Veilance, that’s an obvious one.
I always used to look at that Acronym stuff and that whole style and thought that it was too ninja for me. There’s techwear and then there’s different bits: some of it is outdoor focused whereas some of it is like tights and shorts over the top. Just super intense ninja vibes that I’m not into as much. I appreciate it though.
Maybe that kind of stuff will come back though? That sleek look mixed with the outdoor world.
I feel like Descente ALLTERRAIN is maybe a little bridge between those, and reminds me of Rob’s stuff as well. But yeah, I like how Veilance is so smart. It’s such a sophisticated look. All perfectly fitting, really nice materials, the care that’s gone into developing those garments, a lot of R&D etcetera.
I think it’s such a sophisticated thing and I would wear more of it if I was rich and if it wasn’t so skinny as well, because I cannot do skinny trousers! I just can’t, it’s not for me.
I know I feel the same way! Okay so are there any independent designers on your radar right now, people that you think are doing really cool shit right now?
Yes, there are. @j_la.l_, I’ve followed him since he first made that account and it’s just been nonstop heat. @sysgrey, Copenhagen based guys, they’ve put on some cool stuff that I like. There’s actually quite a lot of them. Colin Meredith makes some really cool bits. Hmm, Sage too, what he’s doing is really interesting, his stuff is so clean. More generally I love seeing what people are coming up with on a smaller scale.
What are some fashion trends that you think we’ll see in 2022?
I think more of the same really but more refined as more people get into it. Brands will have more time to do research, another year under their belt to think about their designs and their directions. I think it will all continue but be more specialised to the brand, and on the topic of authenticity, I think it might almost become unauthentic to be authentic.
It’s such a big thing at the moment and consumers know that as well. They’re way more conscious so they’re going to see through many more things than now, which might maybe mean that brands might have to work harder and cleverer?
More technical fabrics, more emphasis on materials, sustainability will obviously be a massive part, and definitely reworked stuff. There’s nothing bad about that at all - it’s all recycled, it’s creative, unique, every piece is different.
Yeah, now everyone is thinking about branding. We’re all super aware of the conscious decisions behind branding. And maybe that’s why knowledge is so important now? It’s not only about what you’re wearing but about what that means to you and what it says about you.
It’s who you are as a person, isn’t it? What’s on my body tells you what kind of person I am. We’re all brands in ourselves. I’ve had years of curating my own brand, as in who I am. Even though it’s not to sell stuff it’s to sell myself as an individual to those around me. You build your identity in a similar way, a similar process, to the way a brand does.
There’s functional advertising and there’s emotional advertising. When you promote an emotion, or promote a jacket and what it intends to do, it’s way more interesting to people now to - depending on the product - be presented with an idea, a concept, a feeling, an emotion, rather than some stats on what this jacket can do. You end up showing people what you’re about through the brands. A lot of people know, say, what Patagonia’s about, so if you see someone wear that brand, you’ll think that they probably agree with Patagonia’s ethos.
Final question. What are your plans for @l.holl? Are you thinking of turning that into a brand or is there anything else in the pipeline for you and your career?
I’m figuring stuff out as I go to be honest. I’m still learning, going with it and taking it as it comes. I did marketing at university and it was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be way more creative. Meanwhile I was in lectures listening to them talking about stats.
I think I need to work in a space that I’m interested in, as opposed to a certain title or category of work. If I was working in the marketing department for Patagonia, let's say, or some of these other brands that I’m really interested in, the work would be so much better.
I don’t really mind what I do as long as I care about it. And if I enjoy it, then that’s the main thing. That just means you’re going to be happy. There’s not one set thing that I want to do. I want to make clothes. I want to do creative direction. Things in the space that add value. I want to produce editorials. I want to style. I just want to put some creative energy into something and then see it come to life. Be like, I did that.
Know the one. Thanks Louis!