A brief history of British escapism
On 24th April 1932 a group led by activist and Manchester native Benny Rothman set off on a simple walk through the Peak District, the seismic effects of which would be felt for years to come. Frustrated by the government’s decision to deny ramblers access to parts of open country, Rothman organised over 400 walkers into a mass trespass, setting off from Bowden Bridge quarry towards Kinder Scout in the Peak District. Five men were subsequently jailed after clashes with police and gamekeepers, but the Kinder Trespass became one of the most successful examples of civil disobedience in British history.
In fighting for their right to ramble, Rothman’s crew would inspire generations of British walkers, the march of their sturdy boots and knitted socks powered by the actions of like-minded souls before them. The industrial revolution brought about the need for working people to escape the hulking thuds of heavy machinery and walk towards something more human, and it’s with this attitude that RMBLR’s products look to inspire.
That streak of civil disobedience would come to the fore once again in post-war Britain, a time when the Western world buzzed with talk of revolution and psychedelia informed the clothing of those seeking social change, from the CND to JFK. Hiking became a way to escape the aggressive political machine and reconnect with nature, and advancements in outdoor technology over the next decade allowed for efficient equipment and creative design, turning rambling into an attractive proposition to a young urban population with leisure time to spare.
Throughout the coming decades that combination of British defiance and creativity shone as brightly as ever. In an ironic twist, crowds of young people flocked back to the decaying warehouses which once housed the city’s urban workforce, to practise a new method of escapism - clubbing. Each weekend in these warehouses thousands of young people would lose themselves in music, the patterns of the 808 drum machine carrying them away from the drudgery of a life with no clear purpose. A technicolour beacon in a bleak world, powered by the smokestacks of Factory Records.
Further out, rave culture saw weekend convoys descend upon England’s green and pleasant land looking for a party, from Blackburn to the M25, even if only for a few hours of wanton abandon until the working week began again. And while the Scuttlers, Britain’s first Victorian style tribe, had transcended into local folklore, their ghosts ran alongside the Casuals who travelled the backstreets in their anoraks and trainers looking for action.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The industrial landscape may have altered but British manufacturing still stands as a mark of quality, and RMBLR’s decision to make their hats in those surviving factories is a testament to that lasting appeal. Whether it’s in the clubs or out in the field, the ideas and aesthetic of past generations of walkers lives on in the RMBLR name.
In the digital age where our purpose seems less defined, the need for us to protect our relationship with nature and each other is all the more important. Go forth, just as those who came before us did. Take a trip. Escape.