Blossoms drummer Joe Donovan heads for the hills with Cotopaxi

Fast becoming a firm favourite here in the Proper office. Cotopaxi are a brand that believe in the power of adventure to make the world a better place. Perhaps best known for their one of a kind colourful Del Día backpacks made from 100% repurposed fabric, Cotopaxi’s passion for sustainable design and community building is something that really sets them apart from their contemporaries.

Taking their inspiration from a pre-covid trip to the radiant state of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico, the SS21 colour palettes offer nods to the bustling candy-coloured villages and indigenous markets that the area is renowned for. The ever-faithful Teca fleece returns in new colours, the Teca Half Zip is a multi-panelled masterpiece that would give Elmer the Elephant a run for his money, and this season’s key style, the Teca Cálido, is a new jacket that’s constructed using a combination of recycled and repurposed materials – this insulated lightweight wonder makes the perfect transitional piece that can be stowed or deployed at a moments notice.

Not only do Cotopaxi make dead good jackets, they’re a brand who are on a mission to ‘Do Good’. They were recently certified Climate Neutral and as a certified B Corporation, they ensure 1% of their revenue is invested in addressing global poverty and supporting community development. As a brand it takes its name from an Ecuadorian volcano and pledges to help those in need on a global scale – it is clear that Cotopaxi are a brand that’s inspired by our planet and those who inhabit it.

Unprecedented change over the past year meant that we’ve been unable to travel for what now feels like forever. This temporary blockage on our desire to explore is something many of us in this office and our friends have felt the brunt of, however, this time at home has helped us realise that no matter where you are, there are still things to learn, experiences to have and people to interact with.

“We’re all for journeys to unknown places, for the beneficial exchange that happens when people of different backgrounds meet. But we’re convinced discovery doesn’t only come from far-off lands and distant cultures. Adventure exists all around us: in our own backyards and corners of our minds. It’s not about going somewhere, it’s about being where we are. It’s seizing the moment. It’s time well spent”

This sentiment from Cotopaxi is something we have resonated with massively; we couldn’t possibly have put it better ourselves. Lockdown has been horrendous in many ways, but it’s also opened doors that we didn’t know were there. We recently caught up with rock n roll superstar and friend of Proper Joe Donovan to have a chat about this sort of thing and how our lives have changed in some ways for the better. 

Hello Joe, how the devil are we?

I’m good thanks guys! 

In the past year or so we’ve seen unprecedented global change beyond anything anyone could have ever imagined. As someone who spends most of their time making dead good songs and playing them to people around the world, how have things changed for you in the past year or so?

Erm well at first it was nice to be at home! Don’t want to sound ungrateful but I’ve never been at home for more than 2 months so was nice to chill with the dog and Sophia, then it got very boring and we ended up back in the studio so we were making tunes! That was really fun! So I suppose it hadn’t changed that much apart from the obvious gigs missing!

Do you think lockdown has given you the chance to stop and appreciate how far the band have come? I remember going to watch you lads play at venues like The Ruby Lounge whilst I was still at uni. Since then, you seem to have been almost constantly on tour, churning out number 1 albums or launching new City kits.

Yeah, definitely. We did like these YouTube things of our gigs and it was mad watching them back, the last few years have been a bit of a blur, and looking back was really nice but just made me miss playing live so much! 

When we look back at what ‘normal’ used to mean we’re reminded just how easy it was to take everyday experiences like a nice walk or a few cans in the park with some mates for granted. Is there anything, in particular, you’ve got a newfound appreciation for?

Hiking. I love it. I always loved the clobber and that but I never really had time or even just the thought to go out and hike. Now I’ve been going on them daily. It’s something I’ve really loved doing.  

Yomping, hiking, rambling, whatever you want to call. Is this something you’ve always done or a bit of a lockdown hobby?

Well when I was a kid I never like when on holidays abroad or owt, like I never flew anyway or had been on a plane we went camping and used to go on walks then, so was something I did and like having a dog I used to go on some smaller walks but I wouldn’t say it was a hobby, but now after lockdown, it’s turned into one! 

Hailing from Stockport you’re pretty lucky to have the wonderful Peak District only a stone’s throw away. Where are your favourite places to go for a mooch both local and further afield?

I love Kinder. It’s by far my favourite I’ll just shoot up there all day with Pep, take a Cornish pasty and a beer and just walk about, it’s mint! I love the Lakes as well! But since we’ve started getting in the rehearsal room again I’ve really enjoyed walks around Stockport, like the canals or the transpennine trail. I love them walks where you’re in a town or city and gradually you walk out and see the difference in landscape or buildings. 

That’s a pretty nifty bag you’ve got there. What are essentials are you chucking in your bag when you’re off out for a stomp?

Well; Cornish pasty (From Pilkingtons) a beer (for the top), water, changing thing just incase, I always carry water proof pants and all, spare lead for Pep (he loves chewing through leads), first aid kit (blister plasters), torch and a snack. Really nothing that fun haha. I wish I had some cool bit of kit but it’s all really boring haha.

It must be nice to have a companion to join you on your walks. How long have had Pep for? Is he a regular on all of your missions?

2 years I’ve had him! Yeah it’s really the reason I got into it properly! He’s a tank though he loves it! Like if I stop for some food or water he’s like pissed off at me about it. 

Your podcast with the lads has been a reliever of boredom for us over the last few months. Have you got any other podcasts you would recommend whilst out on the trail?

Ohh yeah I love the Peter Crouch one, and Atletico Mince! They’re my favourites! 

One of the sections on your podcast asks guests to pick their top 5 songs from (Greater) Manchester. Have you got any go-to tunes for when you’re scrambling up a rock face or even a euphoric number for when you’re stood at the top admiring the view?

You know what I don’t listen to tunes when I’m walking! I think because the band and that music is like always a massive part of my life and I love it but it’s nice to just walk and not have anything like that – just listen out to birds and that. Sounds very at one with nature that doesn’t it haha but I think just getting away from music for a few hours on a walk is mint! 

Do you think you’d ever incorporate a bit of outdoor adventuring when you’re back on tour? Any chance of a trip up Mount Fuji next time you’re in Japan or will you be sticking to Asahi’s and vintage shopping?

100%, I feel like I’ve seen all the cities now and I can’t wait to find boss walks in different places when I’m touring! We’ve been to so many places and I’ve never like gone out of the cities so I can’t wait to go and explore! 

How important do you think it is to make sure we all get outdoors and appreciate what we have on our doorstep?

Massively, I think walking is the best form of exercise, it isn’t stressful, it’s clears your mind. Isn’t harsh on your joints and exploring what’s around you, you find some gems, and they become a regular place to go to chill out or too just enjoy some space. 

Any tips for those who might have been thinking about doing more outdoors but don’t really know where to start? 

Well, I got an app at first, All Trails. And that’s got loads of trails people have done and you can read how hard it is, how far, how long it’ll roughly take. I think that really helped because sometimes a new walk where you don’t know where you’re going can seem a bit scary. But I’d say get an app! 

You can check out a range of Cotopaxi gear at Yards and Parasol Store or click here to learn more about the incredible work they do. And if you’re feeling up to the challenge you can even have a bash at Joe’s route up Kinder using the All Trails app here.

Photography by @joelighthouse_
Have a nose at more of his work right here.

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