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Mountain Style: the first illustrated history of British outdoor clothing

Alex Roddie
Alex Roddie
3 min read
Mountain Style: the first illustrated history of British outdoor clothing

Early this year, I noticed a new account pop up on my 'Explore' tab in Instagram. @mountainstylebook was posting images of classic mountaineering gear adverts, as well as some photos of the gear in use. Dear reader, you know me – such stuff is catnip to my brain, so I followed the account immediately, and it soon became one of my favourites. Imagine my delight when I discovered that a book was being planned.

Mountain Style: British Outdoor Clothing 1953-2000 is now live on Kickstarter, and as I write this it has just ticked over the funding threshold – which means that publication will be going ahead. The hardcover book will be printed in Wales and will contain 300 pages of words and images telling the story of vintage British outdoor clothing.

The authors, Henry Iddon and Max Leonard, have put together the first book to celebrate the history, vintage style, and visual heritage of the UK's outdoor brands. Whether you favour the canvas-and-woollens era or the brightly coloured nylon era that followed it, you can't deny that technical mountain gear used to have plenty of flair.

Disappeared brands. I am just about old enough to have used a couple of these

Although gear from decades past was often basic, and lacked many of the technical capabilities we now take for granted, in looking back perhaps we can learn something about how to navigate a path forward. Adventure is not about doing things the easy or efficient way, is it? Otherwise we'd take the ski lift instead of climbing the mountain on foot. By definition there must always be some resistance, some effort, for adventure to exist. It follows that gear with rudimentary capabilities must change the character of adventure – perhaps in some ways enhance it, although this is incredibly subjective and personal.

Scafell 1953 © Tony Iddon

A study of the development of outdoor gear is therefore a study of adventure itself, and how it has evolved as technical barriers have fallen or receded. I find that fascinating – but mostly I just want to leaf through the vintage ads and imagine what it might have been like to kit myself out for Alpine mountaineering in 1953.

Here's the link again. You can still back the project until June the 21st (that's this Friday). The book will cost £45 when it is published in November 2024 by Isola Press.

Images courtesy of Henry Iddon and Max Leonard.

Notes

Alex Roddie

Happiest on a mountain. Writer, story-wrangler, digital and film photographer. Editor of Sidetracked magazine (I make the words come out good).

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