NEW YORK — America Ferrera grew up in “a concrete jungle,” but is passionate about providing young women with the opportunities they need to get out and explore the outdoors and achieve their goals in sports and life in general.
At a breakfast panel discussion here Tuesday morning, Ferrera joined executives from The North Face as the VF Corp.-owned brand kicked off its first global marketing campaign focused entirely on women. Called Move Mountains, the initiative focuses on women who push boundaries, including alpinist Hilaree Nelson, rock climbers Ashima Shiraishi and Margo Hayes and ultrarunner Fernanda Maciel. The women are featured in short films as well as print ads that launched in an eight-page insert in The New York Times on Tuesday.
Ferrera, who is pregnant with her first child, said she hopes her baby will embrace nature and “test the limits of what’s possible.”
The North Face has teamed with the Girl Scouts of the USA on the campaign and will create 12 outdoor adventure badges by sponsoring programming that ranges from mountaineering and climbing to hiking and trail running.
Ferrera, a former Girl Scout, said she believes this is “such an important narrative” and will encourage young women to stretch their limits. “The time is now to begin leveling the playing field so that young women and girls grow up seeing women who are already out doing incredible things in the world,” she said. “I have no doubt women have been doing it for generations, but those stories don’t tend to get told.”
To further tell those stories, The North Face will partner with National Geographic, which has the eighth largest Instagram account in the world, on a social media takeover for the campaign.
Internally, The North Face has committed to increased investment in women’s product design and will expand its offering by adding an assortment of styles and silhouettes in bottoms for spring in stores and online. The company will also open two women-specific stores this year in Edina, Minn., which will focus on running and training apparel, and San Francisco, which will carry all women’s products.
The brand has committed to further develop its programs for female employees and will work to close the gender pay gap within its sponsored athlete program. And in the U.S., it will expand its Explore Fund Grants program to $750,000 by adding $250,000 in grants earmarked specifically on female exploration. The fund was founded in 2010 and has donated $2.75 million to more than 500 nonprofits dedicated to outdoor exploration.