I'm amazed at how VFC's The North Face brand has caught on in New York. Winter coats, lighter spring/fall jackets, and backpacks have been "in" for months. I am wondering how popular the product line is in other cities.
I was in DC the Xmas week and I also was amazed to see so many people from all age groups wearing north face gear. I am buying this dip. Its been a cold winter and methinks with the downtun in the economy, gift givers are more likely to splurge for a good outdoor grade coat that is also "in style".
Finally, a bit of reason here. The three year run sounds like an accurate prognostication...and an unfitting end for a brand that has been such an instrumental part of the outdoor gear industry. Like a shooting star...
I'm not sure where "University Traveling Dad" has been but the North Face isn't exactly trying to start a brand; they're trying to maintain market leadership. How many students at Georgetown need "gear" (his word, not mine) to attend college? Personally, I matriculated at a venerable institution a stone's throw to the southwest and my parents just sent me off with clothes and enough money for my daily 12-pack of Schlitz.
But for today's parents, I sense that when Junior puts his best foot forward, it has to be with North Face boots on his feet and a 6-pack of Heineken perfectly balanced in his North Face backpack. Or perhaps with a heady mixture of organic orange juice and Stolichnaya Elit in his North Face hydration pack (a bit slow on the uptake on this innovation into one of their core product lines). Let's all give a hearty cheer for shallow, materialistic, image-conscious parents passing on their values to their children! If The North Face does survive its three year run, it will surely falter in 2012 when (and oh my friends, it's not a question of "if"), the Mayan prophecy rings true and humanity rebels against itself and its vainglorious, ostentatious, and yet futile displays of status and power. Again, function over fashion will be the byword.
In an earlier post I mentioned the ignominious roller coaster ride of the A & F brand name. Today friends and neighbors, let's look at Eddie Bauer. Innovator of the down parka. A $25 investment turned into multi-millions. Alas, then a big, unfocused conglomerate or two decided there was more money to be made with the brand. Heck, let's even stamp it on Ford Explorers and milk the cow just a little more! But as the end approached, nary an Eddie Bauer down parka was to be found. Can you say "CORE BUSINESS FOCUS?" Can you say "BANKRUPTCY?"
What's next for North Face? My next door neighbor says you'll soon be able to buy North Face branded java in the gro.....bro. I'm not sure about the fur-lined panties mentioned by another 'poster,' but I'm thinking a line of jewelry centered around the "I love moneybags...I mean Daddy" pin. I totally pooh-pooh all talk of the North Face 'DOME DORM' -- a special tent specifically designed to be erected inside of dorm rooms--a status symbol that doubles as protection when the beer bottles really get flying.
In all seriousness though, how is the North Face foray into adventure footwear doing? My sources tell me great at colleges throughout the ACC, but a little weak in the Big 12. Of course, for those interested (as I know this is only a totally irrelevant sidebar) a quick look around the starting lines at Hardrock and Leadville (and no I'm not talking Hard Rock as in 'Cafe'....ooops there's another brand name pretty well ridden into the dirt) revealed a market saturation of .02% for North Face trail running equipment.
Oh yeah, speaking of college, I haven't heard anyone use the term 'wally' since university days; great to know the word still exists, that the people are still out there, and that someone knows how to use the word.
I went with my son for college visits during the Fall of 2007. Almost every kid at GWU (Washington DC) was wearing Northface gear. Apparently, a majority of their incoming class comes from NJ/NYC. At JHU (Baltimore), the proportion of North Face wearers was much less. At OSU (Columbus), North Face gear was almost nonexistent. Kenyon (Ohio), had proportionally a larger share of North Face. Georgetown Univ (Washington DC) had a large share of North Face customers.
Apparently, North Face is a NYC/NJ phenomenon. Moreover, the wearers appear to be from above average income backgrounds. This is the time tested way to start building a brand.
North Face has turned into the "Izod" Brand of 30 years ago...it is the brand of White Middle/Upper Class, College Students. Won't find on African Americans, Hispanics or other minorities. It will have a 3 year run and then die out. But right now red hot. I heard Sports Authority sold over 300,000 pieces in 12 days...out of stocks everywhere.
Another big brand is UGH Boots.. Under Armor is red hot among all ethnic groups..
very. I live in Pittsburgh and every person here is decked in Northface gear. Id bes skeptical about buying the stock, however, because they seem so invested in their wrangler and lee brands. Northface is about 30% of their revenues.
Great! When the climate change unleashes the great freeze on the East Coast, everyone there will be well-protected. Really man, do you really think that anyone who chooses to live in NYC, ACTUALLY VOLUNTARILY DECIDES TO LIVE THERE, has the perspicacity to have their fashion selections (and oh my boys, and chicitas, we aren't talking function, we're talking fashion) respected.
In the backcountry of the Wasatch, we're seeing Cloudveil dudes.
Because fashion is, after all, only fashion---
a prevailing custom or style of dress, etiquette, socializing, etc.: the latest fashion in dresses
Therefore, by definition, you can only expect fashion to carry you as long as the next quarter if you are lucky.
Quality and focus, perhaps even a bit of neurotic myopia, that's what builds a brand that lasts and commands respect.
North Face fleeces are ubiquitous on college campuses all over the country. Has been for years. Same with Reef sandals. Hot Hot Hot VF knows how to pick lines...that's why I bought the stock.