Two weeks ago we decided the do a live premiere of Piilgrim’s newest video Chrysalis on YouTube. YouTube premieres definitely don’t have the same drunken energy of a real premiere, but it’s sort of the next best thing in times like these. You don’t have to sneak booze in, there’s no line outside of a theater, and you don’t have to wait until after the video to smoke the joint you rolled.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Piilgrim, they are a clothing company founded by Mark Kendrick out of the UK. He’s also the filmmaker behind Piilgrim’s videos and you might recognize him from some Habitat videos, or the homie video he made, Shads.
A few years ago, Mark started Piilgrim as a way to add something to the skate clothing market that was missing – ethically made clothing with little to zero waste. Mark’s quality of clothing and his tastes are pretty elevated from the lazy skater norm, so we picked his brain to discover more about what went into his projects.
Q&A W/ THE CREATOR, MARK KENDRICK
Where did the name Piilgrim come from, and what’s with the two “i”s? Spelling mistake?
It was taken from the famous Kurt Vonnegut book, Slaughterhouse-Five. The protagonist is called Billy Pilgrim. This originally became a tune that I wrote in my old band, Base Ventura. The extra “i” was added so there is a triple “i” in the name, a vague reference to the pineal gland, commonly known as a person’s Third Eye, seeing beyond this world and into another.
I think what originally drew me to the word Pilgrim was the idea of going on a long journey. Traveling to a significant place to gain some sort of experience or insight. I guess that’s vaguely how it felt when I was originally starting Piilgrim.
What is it about the late ’60s early ’70s hippie vibes that inspires you and the company?
I think I can relate to that era the most because of my mum. She was a proper hippy back in the day, walking around with no shoes and being a true believer in the free-love movement. She would always play The Beatles, 13th Floor Elevators, and Pink Floyd from as early as I can remember. Then seeing all her record collections and looking at all the artwork, just being obsessed with the colors and imagery.
Something about that sound will always be a big part of me; reverberating guitars and experimental sounds. Same goes for the clothes from that time. They are classic shapes & designs, instantly recognizable, and will never get boring – to me anyway. I use corduroy a lot in designs, as well as workwear shapes, also especially from vintage Military clothing. There’s also obviously the colorful, patterned fabrics, that are more stereotypical 70’s.
If you could, would you go back in time to the ’60s and do a bunch of kickflips and blow people’s minds?
But that’s Doc’s theory, right? If you time travel, you can’t change or alter the past. Even a slight change would have a huge knock-on effect, which would speed up the progression of skateboarding in an uncontrollable way. So maybe Pat Duffy’s epic double kink 5050 would have actually been a flip front 5050? Jamie Thomas attempted the Leap Of Faith switch? Interesting.
You have some older videos too, like Shads, that are pretty psychedelic visually.
Is this vision fueled by any psychedelic drugs?
I’ve experimented as much as the next guy, and people always think I must be off my head to be editing in this visual style, but it’s quite the opposite. My favorite time to edit, and when I come up with things that I’m most stoked with, is first thing in the morning with a strong coffee. That’s it. It flows so much better then.
Shads is the only proper full-length video I’ve done. It’s just over an hour long. I just wanted to document all my mates in the Manchester scene, so whoever asked if they could have a part I was like “Of course man, let’s have it!” Filming was around 5 years from start to finish. It felt good to get it done and put it out, though. Big relief but I don’t regret it at all. I had a great time making that.
How long did you work on this project?
I think this last 12 months we’ve been taking it more seriously and filming as much as we could. It’s made harder as I film 4:3 HD format which not many people have the setup for, so it means that I have to film most of the riders myself, as opposed to being sent tricks from filmers. This defo slows down the process. I was hoping to have a big premiere party in Manchester for this vid, but because of the virus that won’t be happening anytime soon. So we are putting it straight online, then dropping our summer 2020 collection the following week.
How did you guys get linked with Pat Burke? Were you hesitant about adding people from overseas to the team?
Pat’s one of my favorite skaters of all time. About 10 years ago when I first visited Australia on my own, I took two DVD’s with me for a three-month trip. Slave – Radio Television and the first series of Eastbound & Down. It’s literally all you need. Then Pat came out with that part skating to the Eastbound soundtrack! It blew my mind! I knew we were on the same wavelength.
Earlier this year I got in touch with Ben Horton and explained how stoked I’ve always been on Pat and if he could speak to him. When I finally got in touch with him, just as I imagined, he’s the safest guy ever and was down to be involved. I want more guys from all over the world to come on board if we are on the same tip, Pat is definitely one of these so fits in perfectly.
Was there some messaging behind the cutaway clips that you added between parts?
I know what they mean to me, but I’d rather people interpret the video in their own way, rather than me explaining.
On Piilgrim’s Instagram it says “earth-conscious vegan apparel.” Does it mean animals aren’t making the clothing?
Those little animal paws just can’t sew very well, unfortunately. Hopeless time management too.
I guess we use the term earth-conscious as a way to communicate the fact we’re minimizing our negative impact on our glorious Mother Earth as much as possible. This means we use bio-degradable polybags rather than single-use plastic and organic cottons that aren’t produced with harmful chemicals and pesticides, as well as always using entire rolls of fabric for our jackets and trousers to minimize wastage. We work with factories that treat their workers fairly and have a similar ethos to us.
Is making vegan and eco-friendly clothing something all brands should be doing? Is there room for some companies to do and others to not do it?
Obviously that would awesome, but the first step is getting people to understand what negative effects eating meat does to the planet, before you even get into the cruelty side of it. A company wouldn’t switch to not using animal products, then all go to McDonald’s and get burgers for their lunch. These are my personal beliefs, so to have a company that wasn’t in line with that would be crazy.
We aren’t preaching or shoving this down people’s throats, as that would probably have the opposite effect! We’re just making rad clothes that anyone can be into. Unfortunately using ethical production methods does cost more money, so companies can’t justify it to the people at the top who are looking at budgets and how to save money. If they don’t genuinely care then they won’t pay more for eco products. Change is definitely happening, but it’s too slow.
When you see other clothing brands in skating get big, does it frustrate you that they might not be doing their part in making clothing ethically?
I think the one thing that all brands can do very easily is use bio-degradable packaging and stop using single-use plastics. The clothing industry is notoriously awful for this, and most brands don’t care about pissing in the well. Yes, it costs a bit more, but Jesus all that crap going straight to landfill is soul-destroying.
Also if companies could build a better quality product, instead of having a short lifespan, so that the next season you are in need of another. I don’t expect someone to buy a Piilgrim jacket every season, but when you do, wear it for a long as possible, as we build everything to last. Then when you are done, pass it on to someone else. Fast fashion can fucking do one.
Last question, are you ever going to release a capotain hat to pay homage to the pilgrims?
It’s in the works mate, don’t you worry. Big Capotain tings coming 2021.