- Text by John M Drake
“When you experience a deep immersion in nature, it really makes you think about the cycle of the ecology,” says London-based swim coach and activist Omie Dale. “And where we are as humans in it.”
Dale, who is part of Finisterre’s ‘New Lenses on the Landscape’ project, is fresh out of the water, just off the spectacular coast of South Wales. He is buzzing with the elemental joy of it. “It makes you question how we impact different aspects of nature,” she continues. “What can we do to preserve the beauty of these places?”
Finisterre is a brand rooted in the coastlines of these islands. Since 2003, when they launched on the headland of St Agnes, they have steadily grown into leaders in the creation of more sustainable, durable products.
Right from the beginning, Finisterre’s mission was to produce gear that facilitates widespread engagement with the open sky and sea. However, the missing space in the culture of the outdoors has long been its glaring lack of diversity – whether it’s out there on the trails, in the oceans, or up in the hills.
“I think there is a huge responsibility on the outdoor industry,” says Phil Young, one of the founders of The Outsiders Project, which is working to promote inclusion and diversity within the culture and community of the outdoors.
“We have to ask those difficult questions about what the outdoors actually is. Not just in their perception, but how it can be for everybody.”
Young has been at the centre of these worlds for three decades – as a snowboarder, photographer, producer and activist. The Outsiders Project has been leading the debate and rallying hard for change within the industry.
“We need to broaden what our perception of the outdoors means to people, and to tell stories in ways that those people can understand. For a lot of people, just getting to a mountain is success – let alone getting to the top of it, or getting their first, or getting their fastest.”
Finisterre’s New Lenses on the Landscape is the first in a series of storytelling initiatives — backed up by supportive action toward the groups they feature — in which the brand looks to raise and explore such issues.
For the first edition, they collaborated with Young, taking a trip to his place on the coast of South Wales with Dale, as well as the writer, artist and environmentalist Soraya Abdel-Hadi. The idea was to form a condensed and dynamic session in which the trio would get out into the ocean together, discussing the various barriers that exist for the broader communities they represent.
“The people who are asking these questions also want change,” says Soraya Abdel-Hadi. “We need to bring everyone in and have more conversations.”
We need more people asking questions, even if it does feel awkward and difficult. My role in this conversation is to bring people together and to bridge gaps. That is where I feel like I come to my own, in this space. It is a cliché but it is true. We are stronger together.”
New Lenses on the Landscape is part of the work of the wider Finisterre Foundation. This year they are turning Black Friday Blue. For every order they receive over this period, Finisterre will donate £2.50 to the Finisterre foundation – its sole purpose is to champion equal access to the ocean for all. This year the money raised will go to adapting wetsuits for those that need it.