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A major retrospective

By Alpkit
01, Apr, 2017

The nature and modernity of outdoor. Art galleries start to recognise outdoor brand with major retrospective

It's exciting news for the outdoor industry as it announces the world’s most extensive retrospective of the work of Alpkit, opening April 2017 at a major London gallery. Widely regarded as one of the most successful and recognisable brands of our time, this exhibition will celebrate Alpkit’s achievements across a number of categories including down sleeping bags, bike luggage and more recently bikes. Breaking from the standard trade and consumer shows Alpkit feels this offers a greater opportunity for users to gain a deeper emotional response and connection to their gear. Speaking from their studio warehouse in the East Midlands AlpCol explains why this is such a big occasion for them “Sure, people develop a close connection with the gear when out using it in the field doing that extreme type stuff, but it’s not until you truly separate and isolate the piece of equipment that you can find its essence and meaning. This retrospective also offers the chance to see how the roots of our new and recent work can be seen in the developments over the years. It has been a pleasure to revisit gear we made last year, as well as some of our earliest t-shirt that have been hanging in peoples wardrobes for years. We’re looking back over a real lifetime with this exhibition.”

Following its presentation in London the exhibition, organised in collaboration with Centre Refugio and The Metropolitan Outdoor, will tour internationally to Paris, New York and beyond. 

Alpkit (est 2004) is unique in British outdoor gear for the extent of their popular appeal. As they approach their 13th birthday, this exhibition will offer an unprecedented overview of the brand’s work to date. Presented as a chronological overview, it will trace their development from the moment of their prodigious appearance in 2004, through to their iconic works of 2010 and 2011, and on to their recent success at the Outdoor Show and their ‘Sonder’ collection.

The exhibition will show Alpkit as an intelligent and profound interrogator of the essence of outdoor gear. For over 1 decade they have continually questioned the nature of kit and kit-using and challenged their conventions. Their gear is one of the great landmarks of post-modernist adventure equipment, using parody and self-reflection, and playing with representation and artifice. The exhibition will review early works such as ‘Filo - Lime Zest’ in 2009, with which they subverted the language of abstract explorism into gnarly autobiography. The witty and brilliant invention of Alpkit’s first decade of work will be explored, including their t-shirts of outdoor activities and foam filled pads such as the groundbreaking ‘Phud- with Giraffe and Zebra’ 2010. It will also include Alpkit’s celebrated socks of the late 2000’s and work made since their move from Ilkeston to Eastwood in 2012. It will also offer the chance to see more obscure works rarely seen before such as the controversial ‘Highball Pants’

Alpkit is a brand that has frequently adapted their style and ways of working, embracing new technologies as they go. For the first time this exhibition will demonstrate how the roots of each new direction was infuenced and branched from work that came before. For example, their radical ‘Indigo 5 pounds’ 2004 delved deeply into their early transitory lives, of their time split between UK and Italy and the Alpine landscapes that they visited then and after; and their abstract gear of 2011 influenced their perception of the Peak District fells

Alpkit -  a retrospective. The nature and modernity of outdoor’ opens on 14th April 2017. The exhibition is curated by Don Joran, Head of Displays & Lead Curator at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Outdoor Gear.  “Alpkit are without doubt one of Britain’s greatest living brands. Their output is consistent, in its pursuit of answers to what it means to be 'outdoorsy', while keeping diverse about why we are who we are’ 

This exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Centre Refugio, Paris and The Metropolitan Outdoor, New York. It will be accompanied by a major new television series to be aired in the autumn.

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