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The North Face is an American outdoor recreation product company headquartered in Alameda, California. The North Face produces outerwear, fleece, coats, shirts, footwear, and outdoor equipment such as backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags.

The North Face, Inc.
Founded1968; 51 years ago (1968) in San Francisco, California, US
Area served
  • Clothing
  • Outdoor gear
ParentVF Corporation
Footnotes / references

Its clothing and equipment lines are catered towards outdoor enthusiasts, climbers, mountaineers, skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and endurance athletes. The company sponsors professional athletes from the worlds of running, climbing, skiing and snowboarding.



A pair of hiking shoes from The North Face
Assorted clothing from The North Face

The North Face began in 1966 as a climbing equipment retail store in San Francisco, founded by Douglas Tompkins and his 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] 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]

Originally the store offered only highly selective merchandise, targeted to climbers and backpackers. By the 1980s, skiwear was added, followed by camping equipment.

In 2000, The North Face was acquired by VF Corporation for US$25.4 million, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary.[5][6] It is headquartered in Alameda, California, co-located with its corporate sibling, JanSport.[7] 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 in 2007.[7] The North Face maintains 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.[8]

Rise in popularity

The North Face promotion at Eco-fair in New York City

By 1997 The North Face attire had grown in popularity beyond those looking for technical clothing for skiing, climbing, and other outdoor pursuits.[9] The rise in the popularity of the North Face attire 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.[10]

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.[11] After the court ordered mediation in the case, the parties reached a closed settlement agreement on April 1, 2010; 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 US$65,000, an amount that will be reduced by US$1,000 for every month of compliance.[12][13]


The North Face store on Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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, 19 locations in the United Kingdom in 2016.[14][15]


  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. ^ "The North Face Acquired by VF Corp. in $25.4M Cash Deal". Sports Business Daily. 10 April 2000. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  6. ^ VF Corporation – VF in the News
  7. ^ a b Horovitz, Bruce (2007-08-20). "New 'badge' of cool: High-tech, high-fashion backpacks". USA Today. p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Szabo, Julia (1997-03-09). "Geared for the Grocery, or Mount Everest". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
  10. ^ "Suspects nabbed in jacket, car robberies". The Washington Times. 14 February 2005. p. 2.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Billhartz Gregorian, Cynthia (2010-04-03). "North Face, South Butt reach agreement". Retrieved 2011-12-08.
  13. ^ "South Butt Clothing Falls Off a Cliff". Couthouse News Service. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  14. ^ "Store Locator". TheNorthFace USA. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  15. ^ "The North Face Stores in the UK"

External links