On Thursday, The North Face announced an experiential store concept in SoHo, which opened on Friday. The location is part of a new "global retail strategy" focused on transforming its stores into "basecamps for exploration," according to a company press release.
This is just the first of a series of updated store locations the brand has planned, including Seattle and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in the near future, as well as some locations in Europe in the fall. By 2024, The North Face hopes to have "the majority of its fleet" refreshed.
The 8,000-square-foot SoHo store was built using sustainable materials, including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified reclaimed wood, steel, granite and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, which will be used for all future stores. According to the company, this works both to increase the longevity of store locations and also to reinforce the brand's commitment to sustainability.
The North Face has a new retail strategy, and like many of its peers, the focal point is experience. The company highlighted its new store locations as places to "create a stronger connection with consumers and evolve The North Face retail environment to a space that feels more like the brand and less like a store."
That means elements like a "signature Half Dome scent" and a "museum-like archive of The North Face athlete expeditions," as well as making "guides" the moniker for store associates.
The North Face's new retail strategy builds off of previous efforts by the retailer to develop its brand as a leader in sustainability and exploration. In 2018, the retailer opened a pop-up showroom in the Italian Alps that had to be hiked to and launched a campaign dubbed "never stop exploring." The retailer has also partnered with Girl Scouts of the USA to celebrate female explorers.
On the sustainability side of things, the company started selling refurbished goods online a year ago in a pilot program called The North Face Renewed, and closed stores on Earth Day to encourage customers to get outside and explore. The event featured collaborations with local artists, musicians and culinary influencers in major cities around the world.
For the opening of its SoHo store, the brand planned something similar, though on a much smaller scale: A grand opening event held on Saturday featured "limited edition, custom basecamp duffel bags" created with New York City artists, including Adam Lucas and Eric Haze, and The North Face athlete Renan Ozturk.
"Part basecamp, part archive and part store. The new retail environment will be the ultimate embodiment of the brand's DNA in a physical location," the press release states.
Mark Parker, vice president of direct to consumer, added that the shopping experience is "no longer the sole mission of the store."
"We're now focused on creating an environment that highlights our heritage and allows consumers to deeply connect with the brand as they prepare for their own exploration, wherever it may be," he said in a statement.