Tuesday, August 4, 2009




July 23rd, 2009

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

The North Face serves up massive lines of apparel, footwear, techy gear, backpacks etc that as a company-renders it the envy of many labels…

They’re HUGE and manage to straddle the worlds of urban hip streetwear, euro chic, outdoor adventurer, and performance garb- effortlessly.

At Outdoor Retailer, The North Face “booth” is ensconced on the second floor in a separate, spacious room the size of a BANQUET HALL.

Amazingly, the public relations coordinator we had a meet/greet with…talked/walked way faster than us. We were surprised--- but then figured there were so many skus… a humongous assortment of want it all stuff… she needs to get those words out at a rapid clip and feet movin’…

…clad in The North Face that no doubt, aids in the presentation.


With only a half hour allotted at the end of a long day (and when most attendees are hittin’ the Happy Hours) we covered the top looks that belonged to the main lines dubbed Actionsports, Outdoor, and Performance.

We review many collections, at tradeshows, editorial previews in NY and Europe, and during Fashion Weeks…so it’s the details that get us going, not the concepts. There has to be something special…meaning technical performance that is multi-functional for everyday use.

Well, we can honestly say that there is more to TNF garments than just the nifty logo that’s a status symbol where we live.

Hoodies and shells, lounge around or get out of town pants, and easy pack travel attire come in bright fun colors for S/S 2010. But because these are TNF separates, the bells and whistles are there…like:

Penelope Jacket

Flat lock seams and tagless for less abrasion, reflective logos (hello darkness, my old friend), back/side mesh panels on windproof jackets for breathability- and tops for ventilation, thumb loops, waist band stash pockets, roll–n-tie-stow system and other separates that get tiny- fitting into our city haulers, and hydration packs, and pieces manufactured out of technically tricked out fabrics like Gore Windstopper and TNF’s proprietary waterproof and breathable textile, HyVent™ DT (Dry Touch).

We loved the eye catching Half Dome graphics of the full zip Challus Hoody ($56), and the clean silhouettes of the multi-tasking mountain biking line Spatter jacket ($129) with helmet compatible hood and air vents), cotton Vigidis racer back tank ($20), and the Bokee Jersey ($44) that’s moisture wicking with ‘bracelet” sleeves (3/4).

Travel wear belonging to the Outdoor group is equally as versatile. A major two thumbs up for the Abby Convertible Dress ($65) with fold down straps and top that morph into a skirt that looks fun and flirty,

and a flattering quick dry Minerale™ Ramble V-Neck tee ($45) that repels odors in sunny yellow or pink.

Men get the plaid Boulder Donner ($55) button down short sleeve with a vented back ---that offers a handsome, wicking top to hike in---and then go straight out to dinner without the geek chic. And a wind blocking taffeta coats the Pitaya (a Mexican fruit) jacket ($129), lined with a super soft fleece “bunny fur.”

Other winners: the Meru Paclite jacket ($229) conjured up from Gore-Tex™ Paclite that keeps the rain off and travels well, and the adorable running Eat My Dust skirt ($45) that’s stretchy and practical- with underneath mesh elastane shorts---with matchy-matchy Dyn-O-Mite Sport Tank ($45) with mesh back/sides and a constructed built in shelf bra…and a sports bra sister ($38) with three panel support.


An eco retail story that we hope takes off---the Suzy-QZ translates into a solvent free, glue free patent pending method …of shoe construction. Instead of the glues and cements, the insoles and outsoles snap together---like a puzzle –“with unique snap-and-lock TPU connectors, which plug into a steel plate hidden neatly beneath the footbed, and twist and lock permanently into place.”

The everyday casual Mary Jane style flats are cute…with contrast stitching on the thick strap ($80) and a slip on model with laced up upper pops with a flower print at the heel. ($85).