Nike veteran Nicole Otto has been appointed global brand president at The North Face, brand parent VF Corp announced Tuesday.
Otto succeeds Steve Murray, who is retiring and returning to the U.K. in June, according to a company press release. She reports to VF Chairman and CEO Steve Rendle and serves on VF's executive leadership team.
Otto spent 16 years at Nike, most recently as vice president of Nike Direct North America, a position she left in May last year. In that job she "oversaw Nike's digital experiences" and North American store fleet and "was responsible for integrating the company's physical and digital retail ecosystem," per the release.
While The North Face is no Nike, Otto is taking on an industry leader. In fact, the North Face may be VF's crown jewel at the moment — more proven than its recent acquisition Supreme and more stable than trendy Vans, one of the few brands that resorted to heavy discounting this holiday season.
The outdoor gear business flourished during the pandemic last year as consumers spent more time recreating outside and continues to benefit from the "gorpcore" trend. That has urban shoppers donning its sporty outerwear even for city life and attracted a tie-up with Gucci. The North Face "continues to see resonance with its 365-day, on and off-mountain strategies," is how Wells Fargo analysts put it last month.
Murray's retirement was planned, and he's leaving The North Face after burnishing the brand's "outdoor credentials" and building "a successful footwear business," among other accomplishments, Rendle said in a statement.
"We appointed Steve to lead The North Face brand knowing that his retirement was on the horizon but also recognizing that we could leverage his incredible 30-plus years of industry experience to strengthen the brand's proposition with consumers," Rendle said.
At Nike, Otto worked to integrate physical and digital retail operations, including the expansion of Nike-owned stores, and under her watch the brand launched new flagships and its Nike Live experiences in New York City and Los Angeles, per VF Corp.'s release. Rendle called her "the right leader who brings the right capabilities," saying her work melding digital and physical retail makes "her ideally suited to take the helm of this iconic brand and accelerate growth through even more compelling direct connections with consumers worldwide."