The winter 2015 / 2016 season is in full swing. To be honest I’m not excited about a whole lot out there at the moment but I felt I had to just do a short piece on The North Face Summit Series – a range that has had a big overhaul for this winter. The world’s biggest outdoor brand has relaunched its signature range of clothing, a range that it has built its reputation on over the decades, and in some ways it’s different to pretty much anything we’ve ever seen before.
You could argue that the Summit Series line was due an overhaul – it’s been looking in need of a refresh for a few years now. However I don’t think anyone could have expected TNF to come up with quite so radical a package as they have done with the new line.
From a product perspective the new range is tight, focused and technical. The technical part you would expect but it’s good to see TNF cutting out the chaff and dialing right into the meat of things with a relatively small range of key items. Both the men’s and women’s lines are made up of just 9 products each – a baselayer top and bottoms, a fleece midlayer, a lightweight down and lightweight synthetic garment, a heavyweight down jacket and shell top and bottoms. I have sat through many TNF range presentations in the past and that most certainly constitutes ‘tight and focused’ where they are concerned. Either they wanted to keep the budget down or they had a plan when putting the range together to make sure that the new Summit Series product ended up being a true level above everything else they do. Previously that hasn’t always been the case but the new Summit Series product definitely stands apart from other stuff in the range.
It’s not just technical detail that sets this range apart but simple aesthetics too. In fact the look and feel of the product when viewed online is perhaps the most striking thing of all about the new Summit Series range. The grey / black colourway runs through the whole line. When combined with the slick media that TNF have employed in the specific Summit Series area of the website, the whole package looks very futuristic. There’s a look book you can download (look books are definitely popular right now) and some very cool webpage scroll and image coding that works beautifully. TNF have always been strong in the media department and this is a good example. The whole package manages to combine a modern ‘fashion’ feel – something that a brand like TNF shouldn’t be afraid of incorporating – with a proper technical mountain tone that’s infused with the usual messages about TNF athlete driven design and heritage.
From my point of view the key items in the line are probably the shell and the synthetic insulation pieces. The shell piece is called the L5 Jacket. It has the same grey colourway as the rest of the range, is built using TNF’s own DryVent fabric and incorporates areas of FuseForm construction. FuseForm is a very cool and potentially game changing technology that you can read more about in this article on the Path Less Trodden from last winter. The L5 Jacket looks sleek and futuristic and is very recognisable in its design.
The synthetic insulation garment in the Summit Series range is called the L4 Jacket. It’s made using TNF’s other pinnacle fabric technology at the moment – Thermoball. Thermoball has been around a few years now but it’s really starting to take off commercially as synthetic insulation just gets bigger and bigger in the market place. It has Bottle Neck stitch through construction that gives the garment a distinctive look and minimizes cold spots at stitch lines. At £215 it’s not cheap, but I don’t suppose you’d expect it to be.
Perhaps just to add to some synergy to the whole thing, TNF also have some 2015 takes on the now 30 year old Mountain Jacket in the range too. The original Mountain Jacket is perhaps the most iconic and distinctive pieces of outerwear ever made and it’s cool to see it back again, at least in some sort of form.
Check out the whole Summit Series line over on The North Face website.