NORTH FACE’S OLYMPIC EFFORT: Starting with eight or nine freeskiers, executives from The North Face brainstormed in Boulder, Colo. for U.S. uniforms for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The team aimed to build upon its experience from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, which was the first time freeskiing was an Olympic sport. Wanting to connect with the athletes and gather more feedback about how the Sochi uniforms performed, the North Face team quizzed the athletes about what their experiences were like competing, qualifying for the Sochi Olympics and actually being there, according to TNF’s senior product director for Mountain Sports Dan Ramos.
One takeaway was that all of the athletes really loved being able to customize their own look and create their own individuality, which can be valuable in a sport that is measured by six judges rather than time or speed, he said. For the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, there will be 60-plus pieces for the American freeskiers to choose from. This time, the athletes requested more earthy, organic tones that are patriotic, as well. As the designs were fine-tuned, four athletes helped to see things through — Devin Logan, Maddie Bowman, Aaron Blunck and Tom Wallisch.
With their double-front flips, backflips to stomp and big-air seeking stunts, slope-style and half-pipe skiers have greater maneuverability needs than most winter athletes. “One of the things that terrifies us most as a product team is the uniform should be the last thing that the freeskiers are worrying about when they’re competing. If something is not fitting right, we don’t want that to get into the psyche of an athlete as they’re preparing for this big stage.” Logan, an Olympic silver medalist, said, “We’re all put on the same course, but your individuality and your look are definitely what stands out in the judges’ eyes.…Being able to not look exactly the same as my competitor, but to have my own look, is a huge key thing in my sport.”
The actual Olympic uniforms will not be sold to the general public. However, next month The North Face’s International collection, which embodies the team spirit of freeski, will make its debut featuring representations of the U.S., South Korea and international. In addition, the brand’s Legacy collection will be a takedown of the uniforms with some elements that are similar to what the Olympians will wear. Those Legacy pieces will be sold via The North Face stores and Dick’s Sporting Goods starting in December.
With five qualification events starting in December at Copper Mountain, Logan said, “Right now, the scariest thing is that our Olympic team is not named yet. We’re very aware that we have to qualify for the sport. Right now the scariest thing is seeing these uniforms, getting excited and crossing your fingers that you’ll be there wearing one.”
Accustomed to spending six hours a day training on the mountain, Logan said, “Mentally, it’s pretty exhausting, but I have been doing it for years, so I’m not going to stop now.…The best thing about my job is that it doesn’t feel overwhelming at the time when you’re on the mountain skiing with our friends and teammates, time flies by so fast. Most days you just want to keep going, but you can’t because the lifts are closing and it’s getting dark out.
For more from WWD on The North Face and apparel for the Olympics, see: