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Image / Style / Fashion / Off The Cuff

How The North Face went from the source of teenage envy to the summit of fashion

by Edaein OConnell
16th Jan 2021

The North Face jackets have sold out everywhere, but when exactly did it move from being a cool brand in your teens to high fashion?

There’s an item of clothing that has permeated both celebrity and social media culture while also taking hold of high-fashion elites and street style aficionados.

You might think it’s a bag or a pair of dad trainers, but no, it’s neither.

It’s The North Face puffer jacket.

The North Face brand first originated as a climbing equipment store in San Francisco in 1968. It quickly became synonymous with outdoor activity, moving from the harshness of the mountains to leisurely weekend walks. Then somewhere along the way, it became cool. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the brand’s outerwear became a mainstay in rap music videos and the culture of the time.

Then it took pride of place in the world of street style and was adored and coveted by the youth. Adding to its appeal has been the collaborations the brand has cultivated over the years. It’s most successful being an ongoing partnership with Supreme, an American skateboarding lifestyle brand that has a style stronghold in the hip hop and skateboarding scene.

And now in 2021, the most wanted item of all is a North Face puffer jacket. It’s desired so far and wide that the brand’s Nuptse and cropped puffer styles have completely sold out.


Cult status

So how is it still maintaining an almost cult-like status in 2021?

Well, you can thank Kendall Jenner and TikTok.

In 2019, Kendall Jenner was pictured on a rainy day wearing a brown cropped North Face puffer jacket. She paired it with flared black jeans and platform Doc Martens – the image was off-duty model perfection and inspired a legion of women to dress similarly.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Vini Vintage (@vinivintageuk)

Hailee Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid quickly followed suit along with the TikTok army. Nowadays trends live and die on the video-sharing app, which quickly caught wind of The North Face buzz. The puffer jacket suddenly became the summit of fashion for the Gen-Z crew. Currently, the hashtag #northfacepuffer has 15.4 million results.


@sophie_murraayyOotd pics on the gram ??? original sound – Oldschool Deephouse

In November of last year, fashion search engine Lyst found that searches for North Face puffer jackets were up 150% month-on-month, while demand for the brand’s Nuptse puffer had quickly risen to the top of the most-viewed products for the brand.

And even Gucci is eating a slice of The North Face pie. The brands have joined forces to create a collection filled with the eclectic prints of the Italian brand and the street expertise of the outerwear institution with Nupste jackets, backpacks, waist bags, knitted bobble hats, bucket hats and hiking boots.



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A post shared by The North Face (@thenorthface)


But what’s so great about The North Face puffer?

Puffer jackets are not breaking news. Since street style, normcore and athletic wear shoved dresses and heels out of our wardrobes, puffer jackets became a winter staple.

However, the real question is why spend over €200 on a jacket, when you could get a solid puffer alternative for €50?

That is down to branding psychology. We all buy into a brand because of a specific value the brand promises, or there is a certain image we want to portray. And who doesn’t want to be seen as stylish, cool and of the times? The North Face puffer is ‘it’ and in turn, we want to bask in its glory.



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A post shared by Anna Brem-Wilson (@annabremwilson)

Plus, it can’t be denied that The North Face puffer jackets look good. On just about anyone, the jacket radiates a sense of nonchalant style that is often reserved only for designer pieces. It pairs just as well with gym leggings and trainers as it does with a skater skirt and chunky boots.

Nevertheless, the most attractive aspect of The North Face jackets has nothing to do with its celebrity appeal or edgy look; it’s actually the longevity of the purchase. These jackets are made for the elements, so don’t ever wonder about the cost per wear ratio or whether it was a bad buy. One puffer jacket lasts for years.

And even as the TikTok gloss fades and a new fashion item comes to take the cultural glory, The North Face puffer jacket is the ultimate winter walk companion.

Meaning it’s a purchase you will never regret.

Unfortunately, the most popular The North Face puffers in the Nupste and cropped styles are currently sold out everywhere, but here are some alternatives.

North Face black puffer jacket

Women’s stretch down jacket, €250 at The North Face

Checked puffer jacket from Monki

Monki Sue short padded jacket, €55.99 at ASOS

Nike puffer jacket

Nike padded jacket, €99.99 at ASOS

Superdry green and black puffer jacket

Sportstyle Code puffer jacket, €124.99 at Superdry

Women’s Hyalite down hooded jacket, €230 at The North Face

Featured image: The North Face x Gucci

Read more: This one classic top is going to transform your winter wardrobe

Read more: Kitri’s colourful, comfortable collaboration will get you out of your WFH wardrobe slump

Read more: Anine Bing is now available at Brown Thomas

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