From its humble outdoor beginnings to the peaks of the streetwear set, The North Face has always pushed the limits. Loved by frostbitten explorers and swagged-out hypebeasts alike, the outdoor icons’ versatile style and innovative utility means they’ve been on top of the mountain for decades.
Everyone knows about the North Face’s dedication to element-beating, performance-pushing hiking wear, but do you know where it started? Not the chilly climes of Canada or the unpredictable atmospheres of the Himalayas, but a sun-kissed San Francisco beach.
In 1966, The North Face began as a retailer of climbing and back-packing equipment. It wasn’t until two years later that it began manufacturing its own goods. Stamped with a distinctive logo inspired by Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome cliff face, the brand became a huge hit with outdoor enthusiasts, as well as sponsoring expeditions to far-flung parts of the world.
Adding extreme skiwear to their repertoire in the 80s and 90s, the most surprising part of The North Face’s story is its infiltration into the streetwear scene. How did the glacier-scaling, terrain-trekking icons become adopted by the wavey garms crowd?
To put it simply, especially in the UK, there’s always going to be a chill in the air. The North Face’s on-point tech means it’s just at home on the trail as it is when you’re heading into town on a cold October day. Stuffed with innovative functions like insulating Polartec fabric and waterproof HyVent tech to keep drizzles and downpours at bay, if anything can take on the unpredictable British weather, it’s The North Face.
But the brand also has some co-signs with other cultures which goes a long way to explaining its popularity. In 1986, they hooked up with Apple – still years away from being the tech giant it is now – to produce a line of employee-wear that’d fly off the shelves if it was released today.
In the 90s, the brand’s streetwear-influence really started to kick up. Wu-Tang’s Method Mad showed off his Tech Steep Jacket in his self-titled song’s music video, taken from 1993’s legendary Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers album, while the number of rappers decked out in The North Face gear rocketed throughout the decade.
In the noughties, the brand teamed up with Supreme, the titans of streetwear, whose urban influence needs no introduction. Starting in 2007 and still going strong with the collabs, the mix of TNF’s functional innovations and Supreme’s signature outlandish designs made huge inroads into the outdoor icons’ influence with younger markets.
But let’s not forget that it’s the North Face’s original outdoor credentials that made them what they are today. Whether you’re hitting the trails or rocking them with the latest creps, it’s the tech that matters.
And with the temperature dropping, JD’s range is just the thing for chilly weather. Go for the Aconcagua Jacket for on-point warmth with a street look, or layer up with the waterproof Stratos Jacket. For women, the Nuptse 2 gilet takes on the cold with serious style, while their fresh-looking hoodies keep downtime warm on the go or on the couch.