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The North Face: Beyond the Iconic Nuptse Jacket

The North Face: History and Overview

Founded in 1966, The North Face has become synonymous with high-quality outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment. It was originally an outdoor equipment retail store founded by Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth “Hap” Klopp in San Francisco.

The brand initially specialized in climbing equipment and backpacks.

An interesting fact about The North Face is that it was initially called “the North Face of Berkeley.” However, the store’s location in San Francisco soon led to a name change.

The North Face’s first product was a backpack designed to make carrying equipment and gear more manageable, and it rapidly became popular among backpackers and climbers alike. In 1984, The North Face was sold to VF Corporation, which is a publicly traded apparel and footwear company.

VF Corporation currently owns other iconic brands such as Vans, Dickies, Eastpak, Supreme, and Timberland.

Today, The North Face’s product line covers hiking boots, outdoor apparel, and camping tents, to name but a few items.

The brand is globally recognized and available through various distribution channels. The company has an eCommerce store and operates retail stores worldwide.

The North Face products are also available in outdoor gear stores like REI.

The company’s product quality has remained consistent throughout its history, leading to robust financial performance over the years.

The brand’s status in the outdoor industry is undisputed, and its competition is fierce.

Financial Performance

VF Corporation, The North Face’s parent company, reported a revenue of $9.1 billion during the 2021 fiscal year, with The North Face making up 14% of that total. In comparison, Vans, another VF Corporation brand, generated 51% of the company’s revenue during the same fiscal year.

Dickies and Timberland generated 8% and 10% of VF Corporation’s revenue, respectively, while the rest of the brands made up the remaining 17%.

At the same time, The North Face’s market share has remained impressive, particularly given the competition in the outdoor industry.

However, the company’s valuation is difficult to determine independently as VF Corporation’s investments are wholly owned.


The North Face’s history and performance indicate that it remains a major player in the outdoor industry. The brand continues to innovate and provide high-quality outdoor gear to customers worldwide.

As a critical brand under VF Corporation’s umbrella, The North Face will likely continue to be a leader in the outdoor retail space for years to come.

Top 10 Competitors of The North Face

The outdoor industry has no shortage of brands competing for consumer attention, each with its own niche and target audience. We’ve compiled a list of the top ten competitors of The North Face, judging them based on their strong presence in the outdoor apparel market, revenue, and sales potential.

Criteria for Ranking

Our ranking is based on the companies’ reputations, revenues, market share, product quality, and distribution channels. The companies on this list are primarily focused on producing and selling outdoor clothing for various activities such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing.

1. Patagonia

Patagonia is a California-based company that focuses on socially responsible and environmentally friendly practices.

The company donates 1% of its annual sales to support environmental organizations worldwide while also making an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. The brand’s products offer durability and longevity, with Patagonia’s clothing often lasting for years.

2. Columbia Sportswear

Columbia Sportswear is an American company that produces outdoor clothing and footwear, with a primary focus on outerwear.

The brand produces a wide range of clothing items for various outdoor activities, emphasizing durability and functionality. Columbia Sportswear went public in 1998 and has since seen significant growth, becoming a hugely recognizable brand within the outdoor apparel sector.

3. Canada Goose

Canada Goose is a luxury Canadian outerwear brand that produces high-end winter jackets, vests, and accessories.

The company’s origins lie in Antarctic expeditions, with the brand’s warm garments designed to withstand harsh, cold conditions. In 2013, Bain Capital acquired a majority stake in the company, leading to significant growth and ultimately resulted in their IPO in 2017.

4. Salomon

Salomon is a French-based company that produces outdoor clothing and ski equipment, emphasizing superior functionality and performance.

The company has become known for its collaborations with fashion labels such as Boris Bidjan Saberi, and Alexander McQueen, bringing a fresh fashion perspective to its high-end outdoor gear. The company was acquired by Adidas in 1997 as part of Amer Sports and was delisted in 2019.

5. Jack Wolfskin

Jack Wolfskin is a German-based brand that produces outdoor clothing and equipment.

The company has more than 900 retail stores worldwide and has become highly recognized for its high-quality products and durability. Callaway Golf Company currently owns the Jack Wolfskin brand, with the brand operating as an independent entity.

6. Arcteryx

Arcteryx is a Canadian-based company that produces outdoor clothing and gear, with a focus on climbing and mountaineering.

The brand’s initial emphasis on Gore-Tex apparel has allowed it to build a reputation for producing gear for challenging outdoor adventures. Amer Sports acquired Arcteryx in 2001, and then Amer Sports was later acquired by Anta Sports in 2019.

7. REI Co-Op

REI Co-Op is a US-based retail cooperative specializing in outdoor recreational equipment that has a very loyal customer base.

They offer high-quality products that are designed to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. In recent years, the company has expanded its reach with one of the largest online shops in the outdoor recreation space.

8. Backcountry

Backcountry is an online retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment that boasts a wide range of products from high-end brands.

The company was bought by TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity company that focuses on consumer brands. Backcountry has also expanded into brick-and-mortar retail stores, with a recent expansion in New York City.

9. Marmot

Marmot is a brand specializing in outdoor clothing and equipment that emphasizes adventurous and edgy colors and designs.

Marmot was initially founded in 1974 by two college students at UC Santa Cruz and has since become highly recognized within the outdoor industry. Newell Brands currently owns Marmot.

10. KHL

KHL is a Montreal-based independent company that produces ski hats, jackets, and clothing.

The company’s urban streetwear designs have proven popular among millennials and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Alongside its retail stores, KHL has a robust online shop with worldwide shipping capabilities.

Competitive Advantage of The North Face

The North Face has maintained its position as a leader in the outdoor apparel industry by placing emphasis on brand recognition and distribution power. The company has become a household name worldwide, with its iconic product lines such as the Nuptse Jacket and the Base Camp Duffel Bag.

The North Face has also had significant success through collaborations with high-end fashion labels such as Supreme, Junya Watanabe, and MM6 Maison Margiela, and streetwear brand Brain Dead. These partnerships have helped to keep the brand fresh and relevant to different sub-groups within the fashion industry.

Furthermore, being part of VF Corporation has given The North Face a strategic distribution advantage. VF Corporation operates numerous distribution channels and e-commerce platforms, making it easier for The North Face to reach customers worldwide.

Multiple chains of retail stores, including the North Face stores and 446 VF outlets worldwide, offer an extensive distribution network that makes it easy for customers to buy the products they need.

Overall, The North Face has successfully developed and sustained its reputation for high-quality outdoor clothing and equipment, becoming a household name and a leader within the industry.

As the outdoor industry continues to evolve, The North Face is well-positioned to continue its relevance and dominance. The North Face has established itself as one of the leading outdoor apparel brands in the industry.

The company has garnered significant brand strength, with its iconic product lines and collaborations with high-end fashion labels. Moreover, its distribution channels have helped it to reach customers worldwide.

The company has continued to grow its sales and revenue, generating a 14% revenue share under VF Corporation during the 2021 fiscal year. Despite facing stiff competition from other outdoor clothing brands, The North Face has managed to maintain its position as a leader in the outdoor apparel industry.

The North Face has been successful due to a combination of several factors. Firstly, the brand has managed to maintain its reputation for high-quality outdoor gear by constantly improving its product lines.

The use of materials such as Gore-Tex, which provides excellent protection and durability while being lightweight, has played a significant role in enhancing the brand’s reputation. Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, collaborations have been crucial to The North Face’s continued success.

The brand’s collaboration with Supreme, for instance, created a buzz in the outdoor apparel sector, attracting the younger demographic. The North Face has also collaborated with Junya Watanabe and MM6 Maison Margiela to provide fashion-forward pieces that appeal to the high-end fashion crowd.

Thirdly, the company’s distribution channels have helped it to cement its position in the market. VF Corporation’s vast distribution channels have provided The North Face with a reliable and efficient distribution network that reaches customers worldwide.

The ease of availability of The North Face’s products has ensured that demand for its products remains high. Lastly, the company’s commitment to socially responsible practices has helped it stand out from its competitors.

The brand has been proactive in minimizing its environmental impact by using sustainable and recycled materials and partnering with organizations dedicated to reducing carbon emissions.

In conclusion, The North Face’s position as a leader in the outdoor apparel industry is no coincidence.

The brand has managed to maintain its brand strength through its commitment to high-quality products, collaborations with high-end fashion labels, and socially responsible practices. Its distribution channels have made its products easily accessible worldwide, propelling its sales to new heights.

As the outdoor industry evolves, The North Face’s position at the forefront of the industry is likely to remain secure. In conclusion, The North Face has solidified its position as a leading outdoor apparel brand through its focus on high-quality products, collaborations with high-end fashion labels, and socially responsible practices.

Its strong brand recognition, extensive distribution channels, and successful revenue numbers under VF Corporation have set it apart from its competitors. The North Face’s ability to consistently innovate and maintain its reputation in a highly competitive industry highlights the importance of staying relevant and meeting the evolving needs of outdoor enthusiasts.

As we venture into the great outdoors, let The North Face serve as a reminder of the importance of durable, functional, and responsible outdoor gear.

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