The North Face Jacket That We Can’t Seem To Quit

Each year at the earliest sign of winter, the first North Face jacket — often a puffer, but sometimes a fleece — is spotted. Usually a celebrity wears one. Soon after, the jacket is seen everywhere during Fashion Month around the world, on off-duty models, street style photographers, and Instagram influencers alike. This continues until the warm days of spring, when the jacket usually disappears, and the cycle repeats itself. This year, however, we didn’t have to wait until the first day of winter for its debut. Instead, North Face’s stripe logo has been a constant throughout. More than ever before, the North Face puffer jacket is inescapable. 
Before the unofficial first day of North Face season, the San Francisco-based outdoors brand made headlines when it announced a collaborative collection with Gucci on TikTok. A month later, to Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid’s delight, the long-awaited collab between MM6 Maison Margiela and North Face launched. Picked up by SSENSE, Shopbop, Farfetch, and more luxury retailers, the capsule, which included circular versions of North Face’s puffer and fleece vests, as well as elbow-length gloves and backpacks, was a hit. 
“The collaboration was a cool mix of the performance-wear icon, The North Face, with a fresh, conceptual take in MM6’s signature circle shapes,” Stephanie Roberson, Shopbop’s General Merchandise Manager, tells Refinery29. According to Roberson, Shopbop customers want function but expect a “fashion element,” too, making the partnership between North Face and MM6 a “perfect balance.” Two months later, only one item remains in-stock at the retailer. 
Photo: Raymond Hall/GC Images.
Photo: Robert Kamau/GC Images.
“Celebrities and designers are all seeing the value in heritage brands and are eager to support the comeback,” says Roberson. North Face has always been a fan of collaborations — in 2006, the brand entered into a long-term partnership with Japanese fashion label Junya Watanabe, only to partner with Supreme the next year. Still, never before had the brand partnered with a luxury name as universally known and revered as Gucci. The rising interest could also have something to do with models Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid recently being photographed wearing Nuptse puffers of their own.
But while North Face jackets are seeing an increased interest from shoppers, this is hardly the golden age for the company, which been around since 1966. It reached the height of its popularity in the ‘90s. During this time, music videos (still on MTV) saw East Coast rap artists like LL Cool J and Method Man don North Face jackets. According to The Cut, the Nuptse jacket’s popularity among prep school kids throughout the decade also brought about a heyday for the brand in New York.
Still, given the year we’ve had, its takeover isn’t coincidental or seasonal. “Dipping into throwback trends and brands provides a certain nostalgic warmth and feeling of optimism,” Roberson says. “Given all of the challenges we’ve's no surprise that shoppers are eager to seek out comfort and familiarity in the form of old trends that are coming back.”
Photo: M. Caulfield/WireImage.
Photo: Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images.
Growing up in the 2000s, I saw tabloid photos of Jennifer Aniston, The L Word’s Erin Daniels, Halle Berry, and more celebrities wearing their North Face jackets at Sundance or with UGGs during breaks in filming. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie posed together wearing baby blue North Face coats at the film festival in 2004. The practicality of a North Face coat made them just as popular for dads on the weekend and mums before 8 a.m. (or vice versa). 
Today, where comfort trumps style, it’s no wonder that the puffy, cloud-like silhouette of a North Face jacket (and UGG boots, Croc clogs, and Birkenstock sandals, etc.) is skyrocketing again. Add in the ubiquity of North Face jackets come winter, as well as the brand’s long-standing focus on quality, and you have a garment ripe for a boost in popularity. 
Personally, the unknown is no longer exciting for me. Having worn my North Face jacket from the ages of 12 to 18, I’m in it for the comfort of knowing what you’re going to get — the sheer lack of surprise that comes with opening a package marked with the brand’s ever-present logo. I’ve experienced enough mystery over the last few years to last me a lifetime. I’ll take the familiarity of a North Face jacket any day. 
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