The North Face Brand – A Great Story

January 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

The North Face is one of the most popular apparel brands on the planet. Worldwide sales exceeded $2 Billion in 2012. It is amazing how popular the brand has become. The North Face has become a must have for high school and college students who wear its products to keep warm in the fall and winter months. When hip hop stars wore North Face jackets in music videos, the brand increased in popularity. The brand has done a great job of staying true to its original purpose of providing high quality, functional innovative products for outdoor enthusiasts. The brand’s purpose is captured by their tagline “NEVER STOP EXPLORING”.

Yesterday I was watching the X Games while working out. I saw a commercial for The North Face. I wanted to know more about the brand’s story.

The brand has an interesting story and unique history. There were times that the brand almost didn’t make it. The origins of The North Face Brand over forty years ago is a classic San Francisco story. In 1966, Doug and Susie Tompkins, two hiking enthusiasts, followed their passion and decided to open a high-end ski and camping supply store in the North Beach section of San Francisco. They named it The North Face because the northern side of a mountain is the coldest and most formidable to climb. Legend has it that the Grateful Dead performed at the opening party.

In 1968, The North Face moved to Berkeley on the other side of San Francisco Bay. The company then began to design its own brand of technical mountaineering apparel and equipment. The brand developed a following among outdoor athletes and began sponsoring expeditions to some of the most remote parts of the world. The brand has always focused on the needs of outdoor athletes. For 20 years, the brand experienced rapid growth. In the late 80s Jim Fitfield a former EMI record executive took over the company. By the time Fitfield left in 1999 the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. By 2000, the company had sales reported sales of $238 million and a loss of $100 million. In 2000, the VF Corporation purchased the company for a bargain price of $25 million. The acquisition by the VF Corporation has helped fuel a rapid expansion over the past ten years.

Today The North Face employs over 400 passionate outdoor enthusiasts in the Bay Area. The company has contracts with over 70 athletes who provide input on product design and testing. The company remains focused on its core purpose of developing innovative products for outdoor enthusiasts. The brand seems poised to continue its success.

How many pieces of North Face product do you own? 


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