First things first: this is a pretty cool-looking collection from The North Face.
But, then, as someone currently situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, amongst towering Munros, deep pine forests and endless lochs, anything of the outdoors variety is going to pique my interest. As I rest having bagged a Munro for myself, this latest collection has me hooked thanks to its combination of colors, graphics, shapes and, thankfully, Earth-friendly elements.
Titled NSE (which is short for Never Stop Exploring, The North Face’s rousing slogan), the collection is full of gear for both the male and female explorer. I know that I would try to see how some of this stood up to the blistering winds and rains of the Highlands but really it’s a lifestyle collection, designed for more urban exploration.
Take, for example, the women’s Rusta 2.0 Puffa Jacket which, on the one hand, does feature non-PFC for water-repellent capabilities and a ripstop outer, but which is also so cropped that the slightest hint of a wind would render it useless.
Plenty of other pieces feature a non-PFC water-repellent finish which is really what you want to be seeing at this stage in the game. PFCs, as you may know, are chemicals which are dangerous to the environment and to our own health. They break down very slowly and so their impact on the planet can outlive the garment they originate from.
The NSE collection also does its bit by using plenty of recycled polyester. In fact, most of the outwear seems to list it as its main material component. The camo-like Transverse 2L DryVent™ waterproof jacket uses it as does the Fleeski Y2K Jacket and Knotty Wind Jacket.
Unfortunately, some items use virgin polyesters such as the Convertible Cargo Pants. We come back to this point time and time again, but when a brand is utilizing recycled materials in some pieces and not others, it seems like a wasted opportunity. However, the other material listings in the apparel are all animal-free which is at least something.
For those accessory-minded, there is plenty on offer including iconic Base Camp Fuse Box and Tote Bag, bucket hat and beanie. Rounding out the collection is an everyday VECTIV™ Taraval shoe for both men and women, with a super grippy SurfaceCTRL™ outsole. This tarmac-to-trail shoe sadly poses a conundrum: it uses a recycled P.E.T. mesh in the upper but also layers it with suede overlays. So close.
So, with my legs aching from the ascent, I ask myself, how much do good looks outweigh the one or two flaws? Well, they shouldn’t. Ever. Not with the current crisis our planet is in. The recycled polyester and non-PFC finish is a start. But The North Face should never stop exploring new Earth-friendly materials.