The North Face and Japanese brand collaboration is killing it in the marketing department

The North Face is probably one of the more popular brands when it comes to winter sports gear. The brand is even one of the official partners of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.

Although TNF first started in America, it has since expanded globally, catering to hikers and trekkers from all walks of life. But even good old reputable brands that your dad probably wears need a refresher to gain a new following.

The North Face has gotten quite a few facelifts in the marketing department in the past; collaborating with various brands such as New Era for the highly-sought after 59Fifty snapbacks and of course, SUPREME.

The sportswear brand has teamed up with three of Japan’s popular brands and designers. And these collaborations are doing marketing wonders.

The North Face Purple Label (TNF x Nanamica): Japan Only

TNF Purple Label has a cult following and it does largely due to exclusivity. You see, until a year ago, the brand is only available in Japan. You would think that making items unavailable to the rest of the world would result in meager and mostly local demand, but that isn’t the case.

Making items exclusive triggers a sense of curiosity and scarcity among buyers. Exclusive items are often perceived as ones that are of higher quality or of higher value.

Although exclusivity-scarcity is a pretty effective marketing ploy and is one of the six principles of persuasion, The North Face Japan had other reasons for the sub-label being elusive.

“The owner of The North Face trademark in Japan is different from the rest of the world. So we are not allowed to export it to any other countries,” said brand mastermind Eiichiro Homma. Business wise, that’s good riddance!

The North Face x Junya Watanabe: Function in High Fashion

Face it: you don’t usually see hip, fashionable TNF winter gear. The brand opts for earthy tones and maybe just a splash of brighter colors for most of its items.

Which is why collaborating with Junya Watanabe for a fall/winter collection gave TNF serious fashion cred. The collection is an ode to the 90s, bringing back varsity jackets, hooded sweatshirts, and long coats.

The iconic designer rehashed the pieces, injecting The North Face logos from the sportswear brand’s duffel bags into the garments. Such trademark ups the price considerably, with varsity jackets, tagged $1616 and long coats $2716.

Watanabe is famous for transforming ordinary pieces into extraordinary ones. “… to me, fashion is creating something, creating something new through clothes,” he said.

The demand for more fashionable winter gear is also what inspired The North Face Purple Label. Homma points out that some consumers might want to add emotional direction to technical clothing, appealing for stylish yet functional garments.

The North Face x BEAMS: Cheaper Luxury

Luxury gets mass appeal when you give it the right price tag and for BEAMS, it is no more than $200. The North Face x BEAMS fall/winter collection starts from $62 and that’s not bad when you’re getting TNF’s high-performance Expedition line!

BEAMS has teamed up with TNF to harness each of the brand’s strengths. Mainly providing casual streetwear, BEAMS utilizes The North Face’s design elements and garment technology just in time for the cold season. In turn, The North Face Expedition line gets a tan-black and teal-black makeover, giving the usually mature and dreary winter gear a more casual, vibrant look.

Collaboration is indeed a win-win situation, with both brands bringing its own strength and expertise to the table. The result is almost always guaranteed to be industry-competitive and new. Done right, brand collaboration is a marketing strategy in itself.


The North Face - Japan

Nanamica Tokyo

Junya Watanabe