The History behind The North Face

The History behind The North Face
A leading brand in the realms of performance clothing, footwear, and equipment; the North Face has a longstanding relationship with adventure seekers. But where did it all start? Let’s take a look at the history of The North Face.



No brand has conquered the cold-weather market quite like The North Face. From techy outerwear favoured by top athletes and middle-aged men to cult items coveted by streetwear fans across the world, its outdoor armour has been the coolest way to keep warm for nearly five decades.  The North Face is known for its snug fleeces, sell-out collabs and the unrivalled insulation of its down-filled jackets. Originally founded by hiking enthusiasts Douglas Tompkins and Susie Tompkins Buell in 1966 as a small mountaineering shop, The North Face as we know it started designing its technical take on climbing gear two years later.



The quality and suitability of their products to outdoor sporting made them incredibly popular among enthusiasts which naturally led to wholesale and manufacturing by the late 1960s, and eventually outerwear by the early 1970s. With research and innovation always at the forefront of the brand’s remit; in 1975 they revolutionized the outdoor equipment industry with a geodesic dome tent. The innovative design quickly became an industry standard among recreational campers and professionals alike – being used for both high altitude and polar expeditions. Just like the innovative tents by the brand, when The North Face introduced their synthetically insulated sleeping bags they quickly become widely used as a standard benchmark in the industry.



Since then, its universal half-dome logo has sat pride of place on iconic styles like the Summit jacket, Mountain parka and padded Nuptse. With most brands bending over backwards to stay relevant, The North Face is something of an anomaly. It’s stuck by its mission statement to produce advanced pieces of performance outerwear, transcending trends and style tribes to remain the pinnacle of cool every autumn/winter. Clever collaborations with Supreme and Japanese designer Junya Watanabe have cemented the brand’s cult status among the streetwear community since 2006. Supreme designer James Jebbia’s bold reworkings of classic The North Face styles have included leopard print, multi-coloured maps and ridiculous resale prices.



Elsewhere, the Japan-only Purple Label, Europe-only Black Label and the brand's latest collection inspired by the colours of the Nepalese prayer flag, are seeing the label scaling new sartorial heights. The North Face’s ability to uniquely unite streetwear enthusiasts and people who prioritise the practical will undoubtedly see it reign supreme for generations to come.

We’re proud to announce that we will officially be stocking The North Face at Shelflife this weekend! Stock will be available at our Cape Town, Johannesburg and online store

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