Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now Face North

I don't think many people who wear The North Face fleece jackets have ascended the north face of anything. What's more, The North Face wearer announces his superiority of dress, his authority on yuppie sportswear, without ever actually showing his face. I am starting to hate The North Face, because of its lack of a face. All I see is its cold shoulder.

Until this strange positioning of embroidery coupled with the always already "away" positioning of the North Facers faces when in close proximity to non-North Facers faces really started to get to me (which it did, after a cool season of riding the 'L'), I did not even know if there was a logo on the front of The North Face jackets. So often did they turn the other shoulder that I had to visit The North Face dot com to look at a fleece jacket for myself, to determine if it was to blame for its wearers' paradoxical simultaneity of coldness and warmth. The jacket, as it turns out, does have a front logo. So maybe it is not wholly to blame for its apparent one-sidedness? But yet -- could it be that the front logo is intended for the admiration of the sporty affluent fuck's sporty affluent fucking friends, while the back logo is there for the rest of us to covet? The fleece aficionado can keep his power structure of branding in place, without having to gaze upon the pitiable face and shabby woolen garments of the less warmly outfitted citizen of winter.

Have North Facers even seen the commercials for these products? I think the fleeces are so much a part of their cultural code they need not be sold to. The North Face gear, at any rate, is advertised to real outdoor adventure types. Those real outdoor adventure types do amazing things in those advertisements. They don't just stand around on the 'L' ignoring humanity and iPodding their brains to shit. You can do that in a Kmart jacket.

Now I want to punch one in the shoulder blade.

I am not averse to outdoor wear for city use. I am wearing REI pants and a Columbia sweater as I write this on the commuter train. (But those are store-brand and low-end outdoor garments, respectively.) I am also not totally averse to wearing The North Face gear (don't you love how they've built "The" into the name so you can't even write about it properly?). I have an awesome pair of ("The") North Face pants that I got on clearance. They have a logo embroidered on the back pocket. But dammit, if you want to see the front of them, I will gladly turn around. And if you want to say "Hey, nice pants!" I will gladly turn around and say "Thank you!" with my face.


  1. 'And if you want to say "Hey, nice pants!" I will gladly turn around and say "Thank you!" with my face.'

    Say it with your butt! If you can learn how to fart 'thank you' I will be so impressed.

  2. We have a lot of "The" North Facers 'round these parts. I have zero tolerance for the cold and was told they had the warmest down jackets, so when I found one on sale at a deep discount I splurged (because even a deep discount for the jacket was pricey).

    I pretty much hated it. It felt weird and constantly leaked feathers. It was like Icarus was hiding in my back seat. I had to vacuum out my car like every other day, it drove me nuts.

    The next winter I sold my shitty THE NORTH FACE jacket on ebay for more than I bought it and used a fraction of that money to buy a new down jacket from a less trendy company. I have yet to have the feather problem with that one.

  3. I didn't know the The North Face snobbery existed outside NY. I've seen people wearing jackets, pants and backpacks all at the same time, all The North Face. It's like any other clothing brand that became popular for whatever reason, like Timberland boots which I HATE. So popular in my area they even sell womens high heeled versions. Ugh. Disgusting. Not just because I don't like Timberland boots, but because they're just so damn ugly.

  4. I was looking for The North Face items at school yesterday and not surprisingly I didn't see many. The only things with the logo that I saw were backpacks, though none of them looked like they were meant for camping or backpacking.

    You know, the cold shoulder might be part of their advertising strategy - it did get you to visit their website.


I publish all the comments, the good, the bad and the ugly. Unless I have no idea what you're saying. If you want to email me (with only good I hope), I'm at rbyrd [at] niu [dot] edu.