Q&A with Neil Summers

In our last interview before Christmas, we sat down with Neil Summers, Proper Mag co-editor and brand strategist for a number of our favourite labels. It’s fair to say 2020 has been an interesting year for Neil and we really enjoyed this one. Pour yourself a snowball, grab a mince pie and dive on in…

Hi Neil, cheers for joining us today, how are you?

Very well mate, I’m sat in my office/kitchen, the cat is asleep next to me, I’m listening to 6 Music and I’ve just polished off some M&S hummus.

You’re the co-editor of Proper Mag but I know you’re wearing many hats these days, want to give us an update and what you’re up to?

Since the lockdown I’ve changed how I work quite a bit and am now permanently working from home and am using the time I save not commuting etc to do some of my own side projects as well as still doing the mag and website for Proper.

As well as doing the PR for the amazing Swedish outdoor brand Haglofs I’ve also got my iron in a few other fires and have recently done some work with people like Microdot, Adidas Spezial, Manastash, Berghaus amongst others. I’m also co-hosting a weekly radio show called ‘Music Therapy’ with my mate Michael that seems to be going down very well with our listeners.

How has the menswear scene changed over the years would you say?

I suppose the internet has removed a lot of the bullshit of traditional PR as well as some of the magic involved of having to go seriously out of your way to buy something genuinely hard to find. I also think that the menswear landscape on the whole is finally coming round to join in on the North West of England’s profound love of suede shoes, corduroy trousers and technical jackets.

How has COVID effected your everyday business? We’ve spoken to some people who say it has actually positively impacted their work, strangely enough.

I’m an optimist by nature so despite the appalling loss of life and the heart-breaking economic situation I’m definitely counting my blessings with the situation I now find myself. I think this pandemic has forced us all to jump 5 years into the future in terms of how we work. People are leaving London in droves because they’ve discovered that they can do the same job from the comfort of their own homes without spending hundreds of pounds a month of transport, childcare, expensive sandwiches etc.

You’re currently working with Microdot – what’s it like working with Bonehead?

Bonehead is a top bloke and still reassuringly down to earth and Mancunican despite being in one of the most successful bands on earth. As is Brian Cannon who I tend to spend more time with on Microdot projects and someone I’m lucky enough to consider a close friend. He’s not one for showing off but every time we get together we’ll start talking about stuff and he’ll blow my mind with one of his tales or some video footage he’s got of the Verve just casually lying around that he’s not even watched yet. Amazing bloke.

Looking at Proper as an agency, what’s been your proudest campaign to date and why?

Ooh that’s a tough one, I think the spoof magazine we did for LVC will always have a special place in my heart, especially when people thought they were genuinely from the 1970s. I also loved a photo shoot I created/directed for Saucony that we shot in an underground nuclear bunker.

I was really proud of the video we did earlier this year for KEEN where I came up with the idea of a bloke confessing in his shed about the shame of being an outcast from society because of his love for wearing socks and sandals and how wearing a pair of Uneeks gave him a new lease of life.

I loved the podcasts we did too, there was some great guests on them and we had a real laugh making them. Well I did at least.

You’ve done some styling and content for Blossoms – are they the best band in the UK right now?

Blossoms are not the best band in the UK right now, they’re the best band in the world. That was another amazing moment actually, getting to style the lads for their second album cover will go down as a very special day in my life. Man, I miss seeing them in concert.

Can you ask them if they fancy an interview? Haha!

Of course!

How has football and music influenced the work you do?

Much as I enjoy casual violence and a pie (not always at the same time) I’m not really into football, I like the World Cup and the Euros but otherwise it all seems a bit dull and repetitive to me. I know, I’m fucking weird right? Whereas music is a massive part of my life and a lot of the styling or writing I do will use musical scenes or movements as a reference. There are some great looks to be found in some of my favourite genres of music from reggae to raving.

What’s your jacket holy grail?

I do own a hell of a lot of jackets but to be honest I’m not really a collector or on a quest for any particular piece, though I would really love one of those Stone Island Shooting jackets with the rubber shoulder patch from the 80s. I’d also like one of those parkas from the Woolrich x Aime Leon Dore or the Barbour x and wander collabs. Vollebak are pretty ace too and Goldwin and a Holden down parka.

Just how hard is it maintain a cult readership in the print sector? We’re big advocates of #printsnotdead here at Casual Cultures so it’s great to see Proper still going when so many magazines have folded.

I think we have stuck to doing what we have always done and made a magazine that we ourselves would enjoy reading. We also try and make it the kind of mag you can pick up in a year or two’s time and still read all the articles.

Bit more on Football – are you Stockport?

I do love Stockport County but I love their pies even more.

What have you missed most in this fucked up year?

Just before the lockdown happened I DJed at The Refuge in Manchester for the British Culture Exhibition launch and afterwards was asked by the organisers if I’d do the odd Friday night there because they loved what I played. So, despite spending at least a grand on Discogs in anticipation my dreams of being the next David Mancuso have yet to come to fruition.

So, to answer the question, playing ace music to a room full of lovely people is what I miss the most, though I did get to DJ for an hour in front of Stockport Viaduct (and a socially distanced crowd) in August which was pretty momentous.

I know you’re no longer actively involved in Hikerdelic but what was your proudest collab?

Without a doubt the Barbour one, I still can’t believe it happened, one or two people told me it would never happen too which made it all the more amazing when it did happen.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

In The Know

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