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In 1986 the brand quietly unveiled what would be one of its first collaborations—if not the first—that, in 2018, would dwarf its ongoing partnership with Supreme in terms of cultural gravitas.
That year, a tech company from the Bay Area launched an ultimately short-lived clothing line that included vests made in collaboration with The North Face, touted by the tech company as making “some of the toughest products in the world.” The tech company in question? While the vests didn’t have a profound cultural impact at the time, it did sew the seeds of collaboration within The North Face.
For the uninitiated, it can be confusing to walk into the local The North Face retailer and not find the Purple Label bag you were hoping to get your hands on.
So, when unpacking the many identities of The North Face, where does one even start?
The same year the company filed for bankruptcy, 1993, The North Face’s Steep Tech jacket appeared on Method Man and the brand became a favorite among youth in New York.
The trend extended across the Atlantic, where The North Face became synonymous with a certain breed of hard-nosed young men.
On the one hand it is one of the most widely accessible brands in the world, available in malls, second-hand shops and outdoor speciality retailers on every continent.Thomas Gorton, Digital Editor of explained that, “In Merseyside […] if a crew of guys dressed in black North Face got on [the bus], nine times out of 10 we’re in trouble.Nine times out of 10 the lads wearing North Face are gonna win, too.” Embedded among the youth and embodying a certain status, The North Face has spawned some of streetwear’s most iconic jackets.Under Klopp, The North Face started designing and producing its own apparel and equipment.Throughout the ‘70s the brand emerged as a favorite among outdoor aficionados and introduced skiwear to its offering as the decade wore on.