Meet The Individuals Of The Recovered Collection | Frit TamCommunity Outdoors Product Responsibility Wellness
Posted by Lydia Burdett
To celebrate the launch of our vibrant new Recovered Collection, we caught up with a few of the individuals who brought our bold colourblock robes to life. Our latest changing robe collection is embracing individuality within the outdoors and encouraging everyone to feel like they have a place in nature.
To kick start the campaign in style we invited Frit Tam to tell us what part the outdoors has had to play in his journey and why celebrating difference can forge stronger connections with one another.
The Magic of the Outdoors
The first time I experienced the magic of being out in nature was also deeply entwined with my first experience of the great outdoors – a 50 kilometre hike I signed up to do along the South Downs Way with a friend. We walked from Eastbourne to Brighton despite never having walked a distance like that before or even really knowing what hiking was about. I'd probably only done a handful of walks in the new hiking boots I'd just bought, and I really didn't know how to pace myself.
So, we ended up doing what was probably the slowest 50 kilometre walk in the history of 50 kilometre walks. But I remember passing places and thinking, wow! I'd heard and read about the route but to experience it in real life was amazing, and knowing that I took myself there with my own two feet felt liberating. And with that came the kind of mental clarity I hadn't experienced for a really long time.
At that time in my life, I was deeply, deeply embedded in a hustle culture - trying to tick off all the life milestones that society told me I should do. I was constantly within touching distance of burnout and felt like my brain was frazzled. Yet, on finishing this 50 kilometre hike, while I was physically knackered, mentally I felt really clear.
I remember talking to the volunteers and other participants and feeling really light - as if I had new clarity. It was as if the general feeling of a weight or burden that I'd been carrying for a long time was temporarily lifted. That's when I realised the true benefits of being able to immerse yourself in the outdoors, taking yourself to places that can clear your mind and create a bit of space and expansiveness. It was then that I truly had an outdoor ‘aha’ moment, and I’ve not let it go since.
When I first started getting into the outdoors around ten years ago, it was all about being able to explore and visit places that I'd perhaps seen in photos or other people had told me about. Prior to that, my relationship with the outdoors was mostly around sports rather than actual outdoor pursuits – seeing it as a very structured environment that was filled with rules and protocols, teamwork and competition, in particular.
But now, the outdoors seems almost limitless – a complete juxtaposition to my former sports perspective. There are no longer these set boundaries that I need to be in. There aren't really rules. You are almost encouraged to go off the beaten track. I think that, as I’ve gotten older, I’m a lot more aligned with who I am as a person – someone who isn’t shaped by structured competitive sports. Nowadays, the focus is more on being able to move my body and develop a stronger connection to it.
As someone who identifies as a trans guy, my relationship with my body has drastically changed over the past few years. I only came to a deeper understanding of my gender identity around three years ago. I’ve now started to develop and evolve some new connections and understandings with my body that feel so much nicer. Being able to do things like hiking, swimming, paddleboarding, skiing - all these incredible pursuits in the outdoors - has really helped me to develop a much stronger relationship with my body. In that respect, I accredit all the things I'm able to do in the outdoors with the ability to like myself more. Being able to understand myself better and appreciate what it is that I love to do helps me realise who I am as a person.
Before I started transitioning, I presented as female, I was read as female - that's the terminology we use in the community. I would often wear kit and clothing that was very slim fit, quite close to the skin and figure hugging. I felt like anything that was even remotely larger would seem like it was drowning me. As I started to align with my gender identity I began to find a new direction and a new relationship with outdoor clothes. I started wearing baggy things, clothing that was looser and felt more comfortable. There was also the function of trying to hide certain curves, body parts and shapes that would enhance any kind of dysphoria - I’d gone from wearing very figure-hugging stuff to clothing that was baggier. And now, after having top surgery recently, I'm starting to lean more towards figure-hugging clothing again because I'm no longer experiencing that level of dysphoria around my chest.
My relationship with outdoor clothing and kit has changed for the better. There were so many years where I felt like I couldn’t, or I thought other people would say I shouldn't, but now it all feels so much easier. It’s as if everything is aligning and now, I wear clothes that I get a lot of joy out of.
We saw in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement became a bigger part of our consciousness that a lot of us needed to recognize the differences that we have. Whilst I think it's really important for us to be able to see the similarities in one another in order to forge connections, it’s equally important to appreciate our differences – be that in our experiences, appearance, heritage and culture. Only then are we able to form rounder, more full perspectives of ourselves and of the people in our lives as well as those with whom we share this world.
So, for me, individuality is really important - it's the other side of being able to form stronger connections. And if we ignore that, then we're only really seeing half the picture. For myself and for my trans community, I'm definitely developing this appreciation around the fact that we are a bit of a bridge between one part of society and another. You can label that as maybe men and women, if you like, but it's not quite that binary. It’s the way we can shapeshift, essentially, and there's a real superpower in that - being able to see so many different perspectives of our society and the world. It‘s something I believe needs to be celebrated, and I'm starting to realise it holds a lot of wisdom and also a lot of power.
I think our trans community can have a really, really beautiful part to play in being able to contribute to society and helping it to evolve. Being able to really appreciate and celebrate our differences and learn from that, maybe even at times being able to add to our own lives by seeing or experiencing something that we hadn't before, makes us happier and healthier.
I feel, at the minute, we are coming towards the crest of a wave where we are trying to work out how we feel as a mass society about these kinds of things. And my hope is that we get to a point where we can just see all sides.