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The North Face

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The North Face
Industry Retail
Founded 1968; 50 years ago (1968)
Founders Douglas Tompkins
Susie Tompkins Buell[1]
Headquarters Alameda, California, U.S.
Area served
North & South America, Europe & Asia Pacific
Products Clothing, outdoor gear
Parent VF Corporation

The North Face, Inc. is an American outdoor product company specializing in outerwear, fleece, coats, shirts, footwear, and equipment such as backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags.

Its clothing and equipment lines are catered towards college students, climbers, mountaineers, skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and endurance athletes.

The company sponsors professional athletes from the worlds of running, climbing, skiing and snowboarding.


The North Face store on Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The North Face, Inc. Clothing (tops)

The North Face began as a San Francisco-based climbing equipment retail store, founded in 1966 by Douglas Tompkins and his then-wife, Susie Tompkins.[1] It was acquired two years later by Kenneth "Hap" Klopp.[1][2][3]

The name was derived to evoke homage to the fact the north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is "generally the coldest, iciest and most formidable route to climb."[4]

Originally the store offered only highly selective merchandise, targeted to climbers and backpackers. By the 1980s, skiwear was added, followed by camping equipment. Today The North Face offers many product categories from athletic clothing to more casual sportswear, though they are best known for insulated jackets.

The North Face is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the VF Corporation.[5] It is headquartered in Alameda, California, co-located with its corporate sibling, JanSport.[6] In 2007, JanSport was the world's largest backpack manufacturer; combined, the two manufactured nearly half of all small backpacks sold in the United States.[6]

Participating in an Eco-fair in New York

The North Face's quarter-circle logo, produced by California designer David Alcorn in 1971, evokes Half Dome, a massive granitic monolith in Yosemite National Park.[4] The North Face maintains strong links with the outdoor community through sponsoring athletes, including Lizzy Hawker, winner of the Ultra Trail Tour du Mont Blanc in 2005, 2008 and 2010.[7]

Rise in popularity

North Face attire has grown in popularity.[8] The rise in the popularity of the North Face attire has resulted in wearers of the line becoming the targets of robbery. In early 2005, a group of teenagers from Washington D.C. were arrested on charges including the armed robbery of, specifically, The North Face jackets from students on the street.[9]

In December 2008, The North Face filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against The South Butt, its creator James A. Winkelmann, Jr., and a company which handled the firm's marketing and manufacturing. In the legal action, The North Face alleged trademark infringement and sought injunctive relief.[10] After the court ordered mediation in the case, the parties reached a closed settlement agreement on April 1, 2010;[11] however, in October 2012, Winkelmann admitted in court that he and his father violated the settlement agreement with The North Face and agreed to pay $65,000, an amount that will be reduced by $1,000 for every month of compliance.[12]


The North Face hiking shoe.

In addition to selling through department stores and outdoor retailers, The North Face operates over 55 retail and 20 outlet locations in the United States, 4 retail and 2 outlet locations in Canada,[13] 19 locations in the United Kingdom[14] and many others worldwide.


  1. ^ a b c Finz, Stacey (April 8, 2012). "Business booming for once-troubled North Face". SF Gate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  2. ^ "About The North Face". Backcountry. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Bruce B. Johnson's History of Gear webpage".
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ VF Corporation – VF in the News
  6. ^ a b Horovitz, Bruce (2007-08-20). "New 'badge' of cool: High-tech, high-fashion backpacks". USA Today. p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Szabo, Julia (1997-03-09). "Geared for the Grocery, or Mount Everest". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
  9. ^ "Suspects nabbed in jacket, car robberies". The Washington Times. 14 February 2005. p. 2.
  10. ^ Frankel, Todd C. (2009-12-15). "The North Face is suing The South Butt International clothing company accuses teen's Ladue-based operation of trademark infringement". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  11. ^ Billhartz Gregorian, Cynthia (2010-04-03). "North Face, South Butt reach agreement". Retrieved 2011-12-08.
  12. ^ "South Butt Clothing Falls Off a Cliff". Couthouse News Service. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  13. ^ "Store Locator". TheNorthFace USA. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  14. ^ "The North Face Stores in the UK"

External links