Behind The Collection: The North Face's Homestead
Let’s be real – packing up ship and heading off the grid is a hard-to-beat feeling, especially for those of us with a passion for adventure sports and the outdoors. It’s a feeling the folks at The North Face are no stranger to – in fact, much of their inspiration is drawn from the sights and experiences of their own wild travels and observations from the field.
With a focus on innovation, enduring materials and environmental sustainability, The North Face have you covered with products designed by a team of creatives who live the very lifestyle they design for. We were lucky enough to catch up with Alex Goulet, Product Line Coordinator, who gave us the behind the scenes scoop on the inspiration, design-process and people behind their latest collection, “Homestead”.
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Alex, thanks for catching up! For those who don’t know, can you give us a run down on what The North Face is all about?
The North Face, named for the coldest, most unforgiving side of the mountain, was born in 1966 in San Francisco, CA by two hiking enthusiasts committed to serving all those who desired to explore, while serving our natural wild lands by helping to conserve them. Our roots live in high-performance climbing and backpacking equipment, but soon evolved to include ski apparel, sportswear and lifestyle clothing as well. For 50 years we’ve pushed the boundaries of innovation so that you can push the boundaries of exploration. We also believe strongly in protecting the beautiful landscapes we enjoy recreationally, so we’ve worked closely over the years with a number of outdoor organizations to raise funding for conservation.
Where did you draw influence for the designs, styles and cuts?
For the styles themselves, we draw influence from the functionality we are looking to achieve, or pull inspiration from our heritage. For example, the Domey 3 is based on old architecture that proved itself extremely reliable and effective. Regarding prints, in the current collection, we found inspiration in our observations as we were out in the field. For example, the team rented a cabin in the Sierras last year and found an interesting, old knitted pattern on one of the sofas, depicting a scene with deers, trees and mountains which became the inspiration for the Yosemite Sofa Print you see in the Homestead collection.
Who makes these calls and then gives the green light?
Design and development are largely responsible for bringing the product to life, from both a conceptual and practical standpoint. Additionally, this team leads the process when it comes to prints and colors.
Every North Face collection seems to outdo the last. Can you describe the process of creation? From picking materials, drawing designs, etc to eventually holding the finished product?
It’s a lengthy process that requires the collaboration of multiple teams. The designers imagine their dream product, and the developers work with them to build tangible results. During this period, they work with our materials team to develop and source materials relevant to the products we want to bring to market. Product management tries to facilitate this whole process and make sure that the deadlines are met.
What’s your favourite piece from this collection and why?
The Domey 3. I’ve camped in it more than any other tent in the past year. The three doors make it easy to get in and out, and the mesh ceiling allows for incredible star gazing, as well as epic ventilation. I also love the strong architecture of this particular tent as it can withstand high winds better than most lightweight, technical construction.
Apart from yourself, who were the key individuals involved?
As mentioned earlier, it’s a true collaborative effort from our product designers, developers, materials team and product line managers that allows a product to go from idea to retail floor.
Can you tell us who this collection is built for?
The recreational camper looking for products that are easy to set-up, as well as the experienced camper who wants to have a cool-looking product from a brand they can trust. This line is intended to serve a variety of users.
How does the collection differ from others you’ve done in the past?
It’s the first time we’ve infused prints in tents and sleeping bags, as well as technical packs. It was fun to build a collection with a more youthful, vibrant aesthetic than what we’ve traditionally offered.