Back in December, The North Face and Gucci hit us with a heavy dose of escapism, unveiling the campaign for the pair’s much hyped collaboration. Shot in the Alps, the campaign sees models deciphering maps while wearing brightly hued goose-down parkas, traipsing around campsites in fuzzy Gucci slides, and hiking over moss-covered rocks in leather hiking books. The images are blurry and dreamlike; nostalgic for 1970’s mountaineering.
The collection, which was officially released earlier this month and is available online this Friday, is Gucci’s first collaboration with another brand under creative director Alessandro Michele. And while it’s a banger, fashion’s appetite for hiking gear isn’t exactly ground-breaking. Fleece zip-ups, hooded puffer jackets, and technical trail-shoes have dominated runways and sidewalks alike in recent years. The ascendance of “gorcpore” (gorp being slang for trail-mix) has largely been attributed to climate crisis, and the rise of a “conscious consumerism”, where consumers increasingly telegraph their values via their spending. In a world where brand logos convey not only one’s tastes, but one’s moral compass and belief systems, brands that have long been guided by an environmental ethos (or at the very least, some connection to nature) have been propelled towards the centre of the fashion world – whether they like it or not.
While Patagonia has largely opted not to collaborate with fashion brands, The North Face has jumped in with both feet. In recent months alone, the label has unveiled lines with MM6 Maison Margiela and Brain Dead, while teasing a collaboration with niche Japanese footwear brand Hender Scheme. That’s not to mention The North Face’s ongoing collaboration with Supreme, which dates back to 2008.
But The North Face x Gucci may be the best collab of all, in part thanks to Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s undying appreciation for the 1970s. Under Michele, Gucci’s collections have been flush with pointed collars, all-over prints, and sunglasses with yellow-tinted lenses. The North Face, founded in 1966, opened its archives to Gucci, offering Michele plenty of vintage mountaineering gear to play with. The collaboration includes items like a goose-down skirt, a sleeping bag-like jumpsuit, and a wonderfully impractical knee-length anorak. According to the brands, the collection’s luggage, from backpacks to waist-bags, is built of a recyclable nylon made of reclaimed materials, while archival fabrics are used elsewhere. The North Face’s iconic Nuptse vest, for instance, is bound with an all-over Gucci chain print, while a canvas bomber jacket is covered with the Gucci monogram.
For the release, The North Face x Gucci has set up five “pins”: a series of geodesic dome pop-up shops in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and at Holt Renfrew in Toronto until February 14. Inside, spotlights recreate the night-sky while QR codes pump in sounds of nature. And if that’s not enough escapism for you, Gucci has even created three digitally wearable pieces from the collection for Pokémon GO players that visit Gucci PokéStops. Because why not.