With Futurelight technology, The North Face, a division of VF Corp., said it is setting a new standard in sustainability through new practices in the fabric creation process. The process involves creating three-layer garments that use recycled fabrics and production that cuts chemical consumption, and is produced in a solar-powered factory.
“Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable,” said Scott Mellin, global general manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face. “With Futurelight, we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable. Imagine a waterproof T-shirt, sweater or even denim that you actually want to wear. Today, we start with jackets, tents and gloves, but the possibilities could be endless.”
The Nanospinning process used to create Futurelight fabric adds new levels of air permeability in the membrane of a fabric. The process creates nano-level holes, allowing for high porosity, while maintaining waterproof capability, letting air move through the material and provide more venting, according to The North Face.
In addition, Nanospinning gives designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, knit or woven construction and texture to match wearers’ activity or environment. The fabric can be adjusted for specific usage, such as increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or adding protection for harsh, wet climates.
“Disruption is one of the key elements in the DNA of The North Face brand,” Mellin said. “Our teams are constantly thinking about the future of our product technology portfolio and how we can push the limits to create the next best innovation for our athletes and consumers, which is how Futurelight came to life.”
The North Face recently reinvented one of its largest product lines, ThermoBall, using recycled materials. The new approach to ThermoBall, the brand’s technical winter line, is part of its continued quest for inventive new ways to make products with more sustainable materials, while maintaining the quality and performance expected from the brand.
The product evolution builds on The North Face’s efforts to switch to recycled fibers across core products like its Denali jackets and the Reaxion and Glacier lines, along with the 2018 launch of the Bottle Source collection sourced from plastic bottles from national parks.
Futurelight fabric was inspired by The North Face global team of athletes looking for increased performance and breathability in their waterproof gear. It has since been tested extensively by the brand’s global athlete team and is expedition-proven through use in the highest peaks and harshest environments, including the Himalayas’ Lhotse and Everest, The North Face said.
The brand also worked with third-party independent experts, including UL, the safety certification testing organization, to push the limit of the fabric.