How exactly did The North Face become cool? Reblog Via Dazed
Calum Gordon recently put together an interesting breakdown for Dazed that looks at the way in which The North Face, a brand predominantly renowned for producing high quality outdoor garments, has been adopted and taken in by a completely different crowd than the brand originally targeted. To many, a mention of the brand The North Face conjures up ideas rooted in middle-England homogeneity, like warm pints, Land Rovers and thinly-veiled racism. It’s something your dad would throw on with wellies to walk the dog on a grey Sunday. Because that’s what dads like in their clothes – practicality, comfort, items that require no thought. The North Face’s seemingly ever-present half-dome logo is synonymous with an unassuming dress code, the kind favoured by off-duty politicians or quantity surveyors. And yet, today, the label commands collaborations with Supreme and Junya Watanabe. It fits perfectly into the wardrobe of the studied practitioners of normcore, and adorns the backs of health goths. It is revered by youth tribes, spanning the streets of London, the dilapidated shopping centres of Liverpool and the football stadia of Glasgow. Which is to say that it is a signifier of both the sartorially-minded and, in equal measure, those decidedly uncaring about any facet or subgenre of fashion. The great irony of North Face’s urban popularity is that is was conceived for altogether different purposes. Strangely, some people even use their GORE-TEX parkas and down-filled gilets for what founder Douglas Tompkins intended it for back in 1968, namely traipsing up mountains, scaling glaciers and hiking over terrain that certainly wasn’t tarmacked. But the utilitarian nature of the brand’s product, designed to protect against the elements wherever you are, has since been appropriated by those with no intention of tackling anything even remotely close to a steep incline. The question that inevitably arises is, just how did a brand from San Francisco that specialises in performance gear for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts transcend so many boundaries and classes? How did it come to encompass so many disparate subcultures? Just how exactly did it become cool?