The “Jeans” genie.

Some of my blog posts will be on a subject not directly connected to my work but on a subject matter associated to my lifestyle, this is one such post.
The trouble with working alone in the studio all day is that certain topics which appear on the radio or social media act like a musical earworm and once they are lodged in the head they are difficult to shift.
So it was the other day.
A little like Aladdin’s lamp, once the genie was out of the bottle he was hard to put back in, so it was with this topic for me, hence the blog post
A fell-walking friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a bit of a rant about a family of walkers he met on a Lakeland fell. It was mid afternoon, the weather was poor and they were obviously ill-equipped, badly prepared and lacking in skills. In describing the group he used that well tested phrase “and they were in jeans and trainers”. This fact wasn’t his main gripe but just part of the description of the whole scenario but it soon sparked off comments regarding the wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear on the fells in poor conditions of which many of us have witnessed. This subject alone makes for a good blog topic, another day perhaps.
However, it wasn’t really this rant that caused my earworm. Shortly after my friends post another thread titled “AND THEY WERE WEARING JEANS AND TRAINERS” appeared on the page of a major outdoor clothing shop in the lake district. Interesting co-incidence.  The author of the piece, speaking under the umbrella of the retailer was informing us that given the right conditions there is nothing wrong with wearing such items on the fells also illustrating his case with a photo of his 15 year old daughter in such attire on a fell top.  He is an experienced hill walker and knows what he is doing so what he wears is entirely up to him. He is lucky enough to live in the shadow of the fells and on a warm sunny evening he is able to pop out for an hour or two and watch the sun go down from a nearby hill top- in his jeans or cords. Not many of us are this lucky, most are climbing the fells during brief short visits to the area, getting walks in where ever possible and having fingers crossed for the decent weather at the start of the walk to continue until the summit is reached at least.
It transpired though that the author thoughts were not really focused on the rights and wrongs of wearing jeans and trainers but more at the attitudes of other walkers towards those that dress in this manner. Quote ” But back to good weather and the simple matter of being a free man on a Sunday; you see I get a bit fed up of hearing the holier-than-thou condemnation “and they were wearing jeans and trainers”, furthermore there’s something almost evangelical about the way the high and mighty round on a man before reciting the law of Lakeland according to them. It’s not nice and I really don’t like it” and this is the phrase which stuck with me.

Denim free zone?

Denim free zone?

There is a very simple reason why many fellwalkers have this “holier-than-thou” attitude. We have been educated that way by manufacturers, retailers and the press. The outdoor clothing market is massive and caters for all budgets but I can’t recall seeing racks of jeans or reasonably priced trainers in their stores nor can I recall ever seeing a single patch of denim reviewed or photographs of jean clad walkers atop the country’s highest peaks. They will sell us walking trousers and  a variety of styles of boots (some of which could be mistaken for trainers) but these are normally tagged with a rather hefty price (its called technical gear you know). It is well known that whilst jeans can be worn on the fells as can a onesie, they are not really practical. Cotton denim takes a long time to dry when wet, and not just rain, sweat that cannot escape can caused chaffing (ouch!). Jean wearers on the hill, rightly or wrongly are perceived as being less appropriately dressed  by those of us who have moved on to “walking” trousers, these are normally lighter, more comfortable and much quicker to dry. Nearly all of us who have wandered the high fells for years can recount times when we have crossed paths with groups of ill-equipped and inappropriately dressed walkers and for some reason jeans and trainers usually describes their garb. Maybe these are first time wanderers, enticed onto the hills by stunning landscape images on social media or beautifully shot footage on TV or YouTube of peaks and valleys. They may never set foot on a hill ever in their lives again so in their minds “jeans and trainers” or the casual equivalent will do. After all, why spend their hard earned cash on expensive walking kit that they will only use for a few days? But those of us who follow the MRT incident reports will often see that the rescued or casualties from callouts are regularly described as being ill equipped or inappropriately dressed and we envisage in our minds the dress code of those we have seen on the hills previously.
It may be just my way of thinking but the whole affair seems rather ironic. A post on a retailers website complete with a photo of a youngster dressed almost as if she was walking down the high street (as opposed to the fell High Street)  berating the attitude of some walkers toward those whose dress code is jeans and trainers isn’t going to change things especially in respect to kit that they don’t actually deem suitable to retail or promote themselves. I for one would much rather see outlets using their media presence to make people aware of what is the most appropriate attire for all conditions on the fells and try to spread a good educational word but maybe that’s just me.

Now that the earworm seems to have cleared I will return to the easel and try to score over 12 on Ken Bruce’s Popmaster quiz. Maybe I will enter one day and win myself a “One year out t-shirt” which I will wear with pride on the fells, complete with my appropriate trousers and footwear of course.

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