Here's our breakdown of the North Face and whether it's worth the high-end price point.
The North Face brand was established in 1966 in San Francisco, and originally evolved to produce high quality hiking and mountaineering gear, specifically aimed at outdoor athletes. From there, the brand continued to grow, and now, 50 years later, it is one of the most prolific clothing brands in the world, with the symbolic three-stripe rainbow logo becoming something everyone seems to want, but is the brand worth its prices? Prices for North Face pieces range from £15-£1,150 (yes, you read correctly, £1,150!) I traipsed through The North Face website for the cheapest and most expensive items they have, and found that the cheapest items were bumbags and wallets which were around £15, and in comparison, found the most expensive item to be the women’s TNF X MM6 Circle Himalayan Parka which "takes inspiration from Margiela's noted circle silhouette while maintaining the jacket's original mountain DNA, including the responsibly-sourced 700-fill down" at £1,150 (£805.00 in the sale.) The coat is water-repellant, which you may think would provide some pretty good protection from rain. However, The North Face coats don't always repel water in the way you'd think - the water-repellant coating (DWR) can fade off, meaning that it needs to be reapplied, and that the coats may struggle to withstand even slight rain. For example, when I went to London with my partner in torrential December rain, I remained dry in my £50 Zara coat which wasn't even waterproof, while my partner was completely soaked in his £200 North Face coat. If that doesn't show their products aren't suitable for all weather conditions, I don’t know what will.
However some of The North Face's waterproof items actually are waterproof and are more reasonably priced, ranging from £100-£300. I have to say, I am a fan of their jackets, and I think the reason being is because we are so used to seeing them on social media and in everyday life that they have become a popular commodity that we, as consumers, are conditioned into thinking we need to buy in order to be fashionable (like many other super-hyped fashion products).
The North Face has become popular in recent years among wealthy university students who have used the puffer jacket as a powerful staple of indulgent university life, and now in almost every city around the UK, young people are adorned in the brand’s most prestigious coat, the Nuptse 700. Don’t get me wrong, I find them very fashionable and I like the look of them. However, it has become more than just an aesthetic. We buy The North Face brand to reflect how much money we have, as it has become more of a reflection of individual wealth than a fashion choice.
We all know, when we see someone wearing a North Face coat, that they have spent a lot of money on the item and therefore are willing to spend a lot of money in the name of fashion. With the power of social media, celebrities and influencers, the brand’s popularity is on the up and up. An example is the brown Nuptse 700 jacket, which was photographed on supermodel Kendall Jenner back in 2019, and since then, has become the 'it' item to have. The ridiculousness of the demand for the brown North Faces has meant that people are selling them on sustainable fashion selling app Depop for up to £600, three times that of the retail price! To me, it's astonishing that people are buying them and splashing all that cash on it purely for the colour.
Kendall Jenner in the iconic brown North Face, shown on an Instagram post by a Depop seller.
A benefit of the brand, however, is that it is becoming more sustainable, which is reflected through the introduction of recycling in the manufacturing of their clothing, with some items being made from discarded plastic bottles. Moreover, I found on the website that the company is accepting responsibility for their carbon footprint, and has produced systems that allow customers to recycle old clothing and footwear into their retail and outlet stores where they can receive rewards – an incentive I feel will become successful in persuading people to think about how they too can make a difference to climate change. So, if you have any old North Face items you were thinking of throwing out, you know where to take them! They also source renewable energy to power the electricity at their California headquarters, and for this, I applaud them.
As of now, The North Face brand continues to be one of the most in demand brands, and in late 2020, collaborated with Gucci to create a collection consisting of shoe wear, womenswear and menswear. It has been advertised by celebrities such as Love island favourite Molly-Mae Hague and lipstick mogul Kylie Jenner. This emphasises the importance the brand has in the wider fashion world and how it has been able to keep up with countless trends through other collaborations with fashion labels such as Supreme, Timberland and Dover Street Market, to name a few.
Molly-Mae Hague's Instagram post featuring The North Face x Gucci collaboration.
What can we conclude about the real value of The North Face? Well, the high-end prices of items that may not be the most practical reflects how their profitability is purely based on aesthetic rather than efficiency (although they are said to be well-insulated and warm and cosy.) Contrary to that, the look and feel of their clothing is what makes them so popular. Therefore, if I bought one it would be a second hand one from Depop or eBay and at a fraction of the cost, as I feel above around £130 for a coat is not in my price range. Call me a cheapskate. Therefore, on the whole they are not worth the hype, mainly because of the price tag and how you can get cheaper coats of better quality. However, I still feel their aesthetic to be appealing, and I am planning on purchasing one in the future myself.
As The North Face slogan says, “Never Stop Exploring," (but only if you’re wearing one of their jackets!)