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North Face: how it set the winter style agenda

You’re never more than 10m from an item of North Face clothing. In light of the sad news that its co-founder, Douglas Tompkins, has died in a kayaking accident in Chile, it feels pertinent to celebrate the iconic outerwear label which has pervaded modern style without anyone realising.

North Face jackets are the modern-day aviator jacket

Ever-pioneering with his outerwear (note the Moncler jacket worn in Hotline Bling and what happened next), Drake’s padded jacket from the feted North face x Supreme collaboration in 2011’s The Motto was a lesson in convertible styling, the modern version of the aviator jacket. Because as anyone who’s driven a convertible in winter in upstate New York can testify “the pimpin’ ice cold”.

It is illegal to cycle without a Borealis backpack


The Borealis backpack.

The Borealis rucksack is the most anonymous bag in manufacturing history, which makes it perfect if you’re a cyclist in denial – which most of us are. What this lacks in night-cycling safety it makes up for in Tardis-ness, because one of these babies will comfortably ferry three pairs of shoes, a water bottle and two lightweight tablets and still weighs as much as a very small dog.

The BBC couldn’t exist without the padded jackets


Evan Davis reporting from Davos in a North Face jacket.

BBC correspondents became famous for wearing North Face jackets whilereporting from colder climes in the mid-00s. At the 2008 Davos summit in Switzerland, economics editor Evan Davis wore a khaki version. David Grossman meanwhile wore his for the duration of his reportage on the New Hampshire primaries. According to the Daily Mail, they used to wear Berghaus jackets because the west London outpost apparently offered local businesses a discount before it closed down. Accusations of advertising ran and ran, but still, the Beeb stayed warm.

Famous people wear it


Edward Norton at Sundance 2004. Photograph: Randall Michelson Archive/WireImage


Matt Dillon at Sundance 2006, in a rust-coloured North Face down jacket.

Matt Dillon and Edward Norton swear by their goosedown range, and closer to home, Ian Brown became the unofficial face of North Face in the 1980s and 1990s. Angelina Jolie then took up the baton, wearing her floorlength Triple C padded jacket for the best part of the late 00s. Barack Obama, Elle Macpherson and Jimmy Fallon are long-term fans of the coats and fleeces. What unites them all? They could probably afford Moncler, so it’s an active choice rather than a financial one. Unfortunately, owing to our policy on paparazzi photographs, we cannot provide pictorial evidence of everyone, so you’ll have to believe us.

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