NEW YORK — While increasing its European operations, The North Face is breaking ground with a dramatically expanded showroom here, a wider selection of sportswear and more merchandise for women.
The outdoor equipment and apparel firm, with annual sales of about $300 million, is a success story in the fashion and retail arena. Less than five years ago, the company faced bankruptcy amid slumping sales, heavy debt, accounting restatements and late distribution difficulties before it was bought by VF Corp. in 2000.
Now, the San Leandro, Calif.-based firm has hit on a formula of product innovation that, with strong back-end support from VF, has led to robust sales growth and profitability.
“We have found success as a lifestyle company that is rooted in technical performance,” Steve Rendle, president of The North Face, Americas, said in an interview. He spoke amid the sounds of drilling and hammering as the finishing touches were put on the firm’s renovated showroom at 873 Broadway. “Our goal is low double-digit sales growth and profits that grow faster than sales.”
The North Face is one of the few brands that has achieved crossover appeal between serious outdoor enthusiasts and inner-city teenagers. As a testament to its wide-ranging popularity, the brand is sold at department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and outdoor stores such as EMS and REI, as well as urban chains including Dr. Jay’s.
After selling to many department store chains in the late Nineties, the company now only sells to select Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom locations, and plans call for department stores never to account for more than 10 percent of sales, Rendle said. North Face is sold in 1,800 doors in the U.S., and also has a growing international business. There are also eight company-owned stores in the U.S.
Founded in 1966 as an equipment supplier for climbers, The North Face now produces and distributes a wide range of products for women, men and children, including sportswear and outerwear, footwear, backpacks and handbags, tents, hats and eyewear. All of it is made in-house apart from eyewear, which is licensed to Italy’s Marcolin Group.
Seeking to build its sportswear business, the company last year started A5, a lifestyle-oriented cotton line that includes cargo pants, halter tops and tank tops in bright colors. Outerwear remains its largest category, generating about half of overall sales.Women have become more of a focus for the company in the last few years, Rendle said. While many offerings were unisex, there is now a large selection of outerwear and sportswear for women with smaller silhouettes and significantly more color, including pink, lime and pastel blue.
“For the first time, we sold more women’s outerwear this year than men’s,” Rendle said.
Reflecting the company’s growth, the renovated showroom has tripled in size. It has muted colors and brick walls with photos of The North Face-sponsored athletes rock climbing and running. Located across Broadway from Paragon Sports — Manhattan’s mecca for sports and outdoor gear — the showroom has an area devoted exclusively to footwear as well as two large apparel showrooms, an accessories area and a private meeting space with a high-definition television where teleconferences can be held with other offices.
“The showroom is a global showcase for the company,” Rendle said. “It is a way for us to show our products in our special environment.”
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)