A conversation with Darren Shooter from The North Face

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Winter is just around the corner, and there is no better time to shop for a toasty jacket to endure the weather for the foreseeable months. A lot goes into crafting a great jacket; style, technology, comfort, sustainability and heritage all come into play. At size? – when it comes to outdoor gear – we love to stock brands that deliver all these elements; one label really stands out as a specialist in this – The North Face.

To gain an insight into the brand’s creative process when designing jackets, we caught up with the brand’s Design Director – Darren Shooter. Taking this role in 2017, Shooter has helped the brand’s iconic styles evolve even further into greatness. We talked about what makes a great jacket, the technology that defines the brand, sustainability and much more – delve in.

It’s time to wrap up and battle the elements. Can you give us some insight into what makes a great winter jacket?

“First and foremost, it has to work. A great winter jacket does so much more than just looking the part, it plays the part too. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the city and hopping between buses and trains or out in the mountains; a great winter jacket protects you from the elements and lets you explore – whatever your playground.”

What makes The North Face outerwear stand out from the rest?

“The North Face has such a rich brand history, not only in terms of iconic design and ground-breaking technical innovation but what the brand has stood for. This is as true today as it’s ever been and that authenticity is valued.”

How are The North Face jackets best styled in an urban environment?

“Really depends on where you are and what weather you’re facing! But I’d say layering is key – both to be able to showcase some of the technical aspects of The North Face Jackets, but also to bring out the best in each piece.”

In recent years high-tech outerwear has been growing more popular within streetwear – why do you think this is?

“It’s a good question, but it really comes down to consumers wanting to absolutely trust the quality of a garment. We’re seeing this really positive shift towards quality over quantity, and technical outwear has that durability that not only means longevity but is also undoubtedly cool.”

Whether hitting the trails or urban exploring, The North Face is renowned for delivering excellent jackets. What key technologies are used to make these products such high quality?

“There are more than a few! Over the years The North Face has developed so many technologies that we take them for granted really. The zip-in system from the original mountain jacket is a great example! But in the last 18 months, we’ve introduced some brilliant new technologies including 50/50 down and FutureFleece – developed alongside our athletes and tested in some of the harshest conditions on earth!”

Can you please talk us through the Thermoball and Futurelight Technologies?

“ThermoBall™ is a jacket that keeps on giving! It’s a synthetic down alternative technology that is 100% recycled and can retain heat even when wet. It packs down super small and is just perfect for travelling. I know more than a few people who never leave home without theirs! FUTURELIGHT™ is one of our newest membrane technologies. The most breathable, waterproof fabric we’ve ever made, it helps protect the wearer from the elements whilst maintaining that all-important breathability. Crucial for when you’re on the move!”

How important is sustainability when designing and crafting your products?

“Sustainability is baked into everything we do at The North Face. We really look at design in a circular way. This means more than just the materials we use, but how the products life can be extended? Can it be fixed, remade, recycled again and again – it’s a crucial part of the work we do and it’s a journey we’re committed to.”

Sometimes, it can be a bit daunting to wash your favourite jacket. Can you offer some advice on washing The North Face jackets?

“I know the feeling! I have to suggest that it’s always best to have it washed by a professional to maintain the product quality and extend its life – but if you’re going to wash at home, wash at a cold temperature or by hand with a mild detergent and leave it dry flat, then make sure to puff it out again!”

What are the major things to avoid when washing a TNF jacket?

“Don’t judge me… But I try to avoid washing my jackets unless it is absolutely necessary!!! I always prefer the fit & feel of a brand new jacket, and the odd mark here & there just adds character! My advice is to always follow the care label, as a technical product can be quite specific, and avoid over washing if at all possible.”

Last but not least, what’s your favourite The North Face Jacket?

“This is almost an impossible question to answer as there are so many great styles to choose from! I go through phases of living in different TNF garments, most of them usually one of the OG icons from the past (Mountain Jacket / Nuptse / Denali). My ‘go-to’ jacket around the Design Studio right now is a 1st Edition Denali jacket from 1988. It’s 4 sizes too big, but I love the heavy fleece quality and oversized look.”

“I live in Switzerland, and around this time, it is starting to get really cold outdoors. I’m currently getting a lot of wear out of my down-filled, insulated, Lhotse Jacket. The Lhotse has the same fill & fabric as the Nuptse and I prefer it, as the fit is slightly longer, and it has a cool, square quilt stitching detail. For sure, the Nuptse is an amazing jacket, but I like the authenticity of the Lhotse as it was created first and is the predecessor to the Nuptse! The Nuptse was developed a few years later and the vertical stitch lines were removed.”

Keep an eye on our blog for more interviews! Why not take a look at our TNF collection too?

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