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The North Face Is Remade, Renewed and Ready for a Second Life

The North Face wants to keep its gear on the trail and the mountain for as long as it has something left to give.

The VF-owned brand‘s latest iteration of Remade launched Saturday with an updated take on its approach to redesigning and repairing items to create one-of-a-kind upcycled garments. Brought to life by The North Face Design Residency workshops, the unique pieces represent the outdoor apparel giant’s ongoing commitment to delivering sustainable and eco-conscious products.

The Dec. 10 Remade collection features a limited supply of Remade Nuptse jackets and cardigans. Comprised of 50 one-of-a-kind items, the products range from $160 to $350. Forty-five sold out the first weekend of the launch.

“The Nuptse has a lot of things going for it from a Remade context because it’s an iconic product,” Kellen Hennessy, The North Face’s circular design manager, said. “It’s a style that a lot of people love and tend to wear really proudly, so that really helps [Nupste jackets] to be upcycling friendly and live that second life. [Selling 45] really helped to validate that there’s an appetite for this, and it’s a great way for [customers] to demonstrate their values in a visual way.”

In June 2018, The North Face launched a pilot of “The North Face Renewed,” a collection of refurbished clothing remade to explore. Whether returned, damaged or defective, returned clothing is inspected, washed and tuned up for continued use. It’s the same quality and performance consumers expect from The North Face with less impact on the Earth. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), every year, 85 percent of textiles produced go to landfills, including clothing, shoes and gear. Through its Renewed program, the brand is shifting from a traditional, linear model to a circular model where people share, resell, repair and recycle clothing to keep them out of landfills and in the value chain.

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After almost two years of refurbishing clothing through the Renewed program, The North Face asked itself how to make this impact even greater. The answer was the Renewed Design Residency program. This bi-annual, one-week intensive workshop equips rotating groups of The North Face designers with strategies and techniques to embed the principles of circularity and creative repair into their work. As these designers put their learnings to use, sustainable creation will be incorporated into more and more of The North Face products.

“We launched our design residency project back in 2020 and essentially that was kind of born out of a curiosity of what our take-back situation was,” Hennessy said. So far, The North Face has done two residencies in Oregon as it started before the pandemic, but the program has since been put on hold as the company works out logistical kinks, but it hopes to hold two small group residencies per year starting sometime in 2023.

The North Face also brought its Renewed Take-Back program from online to brick-and-mortar last month. Consumers are encouraged to join the company’s XPLR Pass loyalty program and bring their old gear to one of The North Face’s retail or outlet stores to receive $10 off their next purchase. The returned items will be refurbished and resold for a new life. If the items can’t be repaired, The North Face will recycle them as part of its commitment to circularity. The brand partnered with cleaning technology group Tersus Solutions to repair and refurbish the gear.

“It was surprising to me how much [take-back product] there was, which is what kind of initiated this whole concept of the residency that birthed the Remade program and ultimately kind of inspired the circular design group,” Hennessy said.

Archive, a technology partner, helps The North Face make the process of reselling pre-owned goods “not suck,” Ryan Rowe, co-founder of the San Francisco startup, previously told Sourcing Journal. The North Face phased out its Close the Loop take-back program last month in favor of an Archive-powered scheme to only accept goods from the brand instead of from any third-party label. In October, The North Face launched its first line of commercial products designed for circularity.