Complex SHOP Presents Reconstruct: Explore The North Face's Renewed and Remade Programs
The North Face sees sustainability as more than just a corporate buzzword—to the brand, it’s a design principle.
Long before climate advocacy became commonplace in the fashion industry, The North Face has operated with the environment in mind. In 2008, they partnered with bluesign® technologies to develop more sustainable manufacturing processes by reducing their use of water and energy. Their recycling program, Clothes the Loop, allows customers to drop off unwanted clothing from any brand to earn credit towards their next purchase. And now, The North Face is exploring the ways they can repurpose damaged products—and make fashion more circular— with the Renewed and Remade programs.
For “Complex SHOP Presents ‘Reconstruct,’” our sustainable and upcycled collection available exclusively at ComplexLand, we’ve curated the best restored and reworked pieces from Renewed and Remade. As part of the Renewed line, the essential Denali 2 jackets are available in various colors— both at half off of the original retail price. And with styles like the retro Nuptse jacket reworked with recycled camouflage-printed sleeves, upcycled chalk bags with a fuzzy, fleece lining made from shell jackets, and a thermoball jacket redesigned to be worn as a cardigan, the Remade line has taken their classic silhouettes and materials to new, reusable heights.
“In terms of design principles, we're continuing to design with durability and longevity in mind, which is something that's been part of the brand heritage since it started,” says Kellen Hennessey, a senior designer at The North Face. “We’re also looking at consolidating materials and trims, and of course, future recyclability, so that down the road, after they've been repaired and maybe resold and refurbished, they can be recycled.”
The North Face launched the pilot of its Renewed program back in 2018. Dubbed “The North Face Renewed,” the program was aimed at diverting the brand’s clothing from landfills by refurbishing returned or defective products like new, and selling them back on the site for up to fifty percent less than the retail value. The program was revived this past February, and was followed by the Earth Day launch of their latest sustainable design initiative, Remade. Remade takes returned or damaged products and gives them a new life by reworking the styles to repair imperfections and use material that would otherwise have been discarded.
“If there was a broken zipper on a fleece or an insulated piece, like a Thermoball, what if we just take the zipper off and bind the edges and then it becomes more of a cardigan,” says Hennessey. “It changes the function of the garment, but it still looks cool.”
However, implementing these design and repair standards was no small feat. In partnership with The Renewal Workshop, a company specializing in turning linear manufacturing systems circular, to create the Renewed Design Residency training program. The biannual program offers designers the experience to learn about circular design— a practice rooted in minimizing waste and reserving resources— and apply these principles to improving the integrity and reusability of The North Face products.
“Part of the challenge with repair and upcycling in programs like this is that there's just so many variables within each product,” says Hennessey. “Everything is a different size, it's a different type of garment and so it's really hard to think about. ‘Okay, how can we create standards for all of these different types of damages across these different construction methods and materials so that there's some level of consistency?’”
In the first iteration of the Residency, Hennessey, along with three other designers, spent a whole week sifting through boxes of defective products at The Renewal Workshop home base in Oregon. There, the designers were able to see damages for themselves, from small repairs like jammed zippers to larger undertakings like a perforated down garment.
“It is different to be there and have your hands on the garment and really understand how the product got used or what might have gone wrong at some point during its life,” says Hennesey, “whether it was through something that could be fixed through design or through the customer's interaction with the product. It was really a valuable experience, I would say.”
Shop our special curation of items from The North Face’s Renewed and Remade collections on complexland.com now. The collection will only be available today, so don’t miss out.