Forget the camel coat or the classic trench coat. This winter, the all-weather investment outerwear is puffy, brightly colored, and has a semicircle logo in homage to a California rock formation. Padded jackets from The North Face, like the classic 1996 two-tone Nupste, have become both a fad and a family sight on the streets across the country. They are worn by models ranging from Emily Ratajkowski to Kendall Jenner, as well as teens in parks everywhere.
These jackets, which cost around £ 250 new, are a popular second-hand buy for younger consumers. They are the most searched item on the Gen Z Depop reselling app, with an increase of 500% in the last four months. On eBay, someone searched for The North Face every three seconds from July to December 2020, while vintage store Beyond Retro reported a 315% increase in sales of The North Face items. The brand is also new and popular: Asos reports a 400% increase in sales, year-over-year, of several exclusive styles.
Part of the popularity is the pandemic effect. A jacket designed to cope with the elements is infinitely more desirable when free time is limited to the outdoors. It also fits a yearning for comfort in a year of anxiety – wearing a coat that doubles as a comforter is comforting.
But, in addition to those qualities, The North Face has a fashionable pedigree. The Nupste was relaunched in 2018 with celebrities like Kanye West wearing it. This week, the brand revealed its long-awaited collaboration with Gucci: The North Face x Gucci monogrammed quilting, featuring a video featuring climbers, graffiti artists and the brand’s eccentric designer, Alessando Michele.
It could be seen as the “gorpcore peak”, the trend of young urban creatives to wear outdoor clothing. Jeff Carvalho, co-founder of streetwear site Highsnobiety, describes the Nupste as “the icon of the category.” He says, “Style geeks like nothing better than sporting highly engineered gear … It’s made for the mountains, but wow, it looks great on the streets.” The North Face Gucci monogrammed quilting is the latest example. He’s been endorsed by A $ AP Rocky this week, along with fashion employees.
The collaboration is familiar to fans of The North Face, and it’s part of their crossover appeal. Founded in San Francisco in 1966 and now owned by VF Corporation, the brand has collaborated with streetwear giant Supreme since 2007. A recent alliance with MM6, a Martin Margiela brand, saw Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber sport a vest.
The endorsement of models like Hadid, Bieber and Jenner, with their huge followers on Instagram, probably has more influence on young people who buy The North Face than a designer collaboration.
Peter Semple, Depop’s chief marketing officer, credits social media: “From November to December, we saw 20 times more searches for ‘Brown North Face Puffer,’ coinciding with its recent popularity on TikTok.” This trend on TikTok dates back to Jenner wearing a brown puffer from The North Face in winter 2019. They are now so hard to come by that they can cost over £ 400 on the app.
Teens wearing The North Face jackets means they have the potential to become a controversial item for the adult establishment, as they did in the US in the 1990s. Jackets became so prized, and priced so high, they were the cause of the crime. Speaking to The Cut in 2018, The North Face collector Joey Ones said young people regularly stole brand jackets in the 90’s, sometimes reselling them. Similar crimes have been reported in South Korea. Very popular with high school students in the 1990s, The North Face articles were called by parents as “pin breakers” because the high price broke their financial backbone. This made international headlines in 2012, when a widely circulated blog post revealed how different styles heralded a student’s place in the high school pecking order: from the underdog, at the cheapest Nupste, to the ‘boss ”With a Himalayan Down parka. the LA Times He then reported on bullies in schools forcing students to buy their discarded jackets to finance the purchase of more expensive ones, and on students caught carrying out a robbery to raise funds to buy North Face jackets. The state of wearing one was seductive. “Mine was around $ 400,” 14-year-old Jeon Seo-hyun boasts in the article. “Yes, I know it is quite expensive.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism