One vision by The North Face
The North Face, a name that is as close to household as fashion brands can be, is emblematic of one sort of development. Something to be said about sticking, rather stubbornly, to what you know. There’s a whole lot to be learned and imitated from those who stand by their vision, however grand, regardless of what obstacles come their way. As a look in their past shows, the world’s most recognized outdoor/ mountain gear brand has seen both the benefits and the struggle of sticking to what you believe in.
One thing that certainly wasn’t a struggle was motivation. The brand’s foundations rest upon a love of mountaineering and the outdoors. The founders themselves were passionate about what they did, and it showed in the pains they would go through for their products. The company wanted to control the entirety of their product, from concept to customers. This would prove to be a logistical nightmare, stalling the success of the U.S.’s only supplier of outdoor equipment and apparel. Along with shuttering that ambition, The North Face had also started an outlet initiative that would also see itself close down.
The brand would eventually be bought out by J.H. Whitney and Co. and would see its fortunes change quite quickly. After being shuffled around through most of the early 90’s, the brand was finally finding its footing within the fashion industry under a new name: The North Face Inc. This would be the company’s most productive time since its conception. Not only were they providing equipment and clothing to the United States military, The North Face started venturing into casual wear as well. It seemed like all they needed was for their potential customer base to put more emphasis on quality outerwear. Fortunately for The North Face, the middle of the 90’s saw that trend take place, and it helped the company turn its stock around.
Now, to be sure, there were challenges in this relatively positive time. Time had passed since the North Face’s initial debut and corresponding dominance. As such, other brands started to seize on a market that wasn’t cornered anymore.
Not least of their amplifications was The North Face’s insistence on high quality winter clothing. The gear and apparel that the company was started upon had been supplied to people who challenged the Himalayas. That motif never stopped, as TNF’s most recent offerings show. Even through the brand’s streetwear renaissance, there was to be no sacrifice made on the part of utility. From hype-seeped Supreme collaborations to joint releases with Vans, the innovative tech and design was always going to be there.
Today, that streetwear relevance has put The North Face on an entirely different pedestal. After seeing challenges in the 90’s from the likes of Patagonia, TNF came out of the fray seemingly unscathed. But, as we’ve seen, the company’s path has been anything but easy. A certain level of stubborness has put The North Face in something of a position of weakness.
Fortunately, it’s that same stubbornness – this time on quality – that has catapulted them to the fashion equivalent of the Himalayas.