Unless you've been living under a rock (and with the year it's been, we wouldn't blame you if you have), you'll have noticed one jacket reign supreme this winter.
Lyst called The North Face’s 1996 retro Nuptse jacket "officially the hottest product in the world" as the puffer became the first item to top the men's and women's rankings at the same time. From Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and J.Lo to Jodie Turner-Smith and Kendall Jenner, its fanbase is a who's who of showbiz, with celebrities hitting the streets in their Nuptse jackets and propelling what was once the practicality-first preserve of hikers into the mainstream.
Demand for puffer jackets grew by 174% late last year, which makes sense: the rising search is driven not only by winter weather but by an increased demand for outerwear for lockdown's government-sanctioned walks and outdoor socialising. But while dog walkers and Sunday strollers across the country are wearing puffers from the likes of Uniqlo and Arket, the Nuptse's dizzying popularity speaks of something more.
The jacket's cult status can be traced back to the '90s when it was donned by rappers like LL Cool J and Method Man, and Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry. The Nuptse was so popular in New York at the time that school kids were frequently ambushed for theirs.
This time around, its stratospheric rise is multifaceted: it's the latest iteration of the far-reaching and longstanding gorpcore trend, fusing fashion and functionality; a much-Instagrammed blockbuster Gucci collaboration introduced a luxury audience that had perhaps missed its previous MM6 Margiela partnership; the jacket is both ageless and gender-free – you're as likely to see it on your teen sister as you are your dad; and the subtle brand logo taps into our desire for a quieter strand of logomania. Plus, it's gold dust on the resale market – copping a vintage Nuptse is even cooler than bagging brand-new.
So what lies at the heart of the hype? We asked five women to explain their North Face Nuptse purchases, from growing up with the brand to keeping warm in cold climates...