The North Face Taps Design Collective Brain Dead to Remix Classics
Denali, Nuptse, and other iconic cold-weather silhouettes remixed in far out style inspired by Bay Area hippy vibes
Alex Rakestraw is a writer, strategist, and creative based in New York. He once had a nightmare about a lost coat.
Famed outerwear brand The North Face announced today it’s first-ever collaboration with Brain Dead, the Los Angeles-based creative collective and apparel brand (and sometimes record label). Dubbed “an expedition of the mind,” the collab features iconic North Face garments remade with psychedelic motifs inspired by California’s hippy movement (Doug & Susie Thompson did launch TNF in Berkley in 1966, after all).
“With this collaboration we wanted to reimagine the concept of the expedition as more of a state of mind,” explains designer Kyle Ng of Brain Dead. "Adventure through ideas."
The result of Brain Dead’s explorations is a nine-piece apparel collection bridging the worlds of nature and counterculture. Multicolor prints, bootleg graphics, and typographic details adorn three core classics—the Nuptse Jacket, Mountain Light Jacket, and Denali Fleece Jacket. A selection of tees and hoodies round out the collection, which can be seen here modeled by climbing heavyweight, TNF athlete, and all around badass Ashima Shiraishi.
Beyond the fleece and down pants and fleece ear warmer, which we're oddly drawn to, the capsule collection's high point is undoubtedly the Denali Fleece, an acid-tinged zip-up straight off of Shakedown Street. Through Brain Dead’s lens, the Denali’s nylon panels become the valley walls of a washed-out LSD river. Colorblocked sleeves, meditative mantras, and a picture of the mind complete the immersion. In fewer words: it’s far out, man.
This surprise collaboration seems ripped from the pages of The Whole Earth Catalogue, combining the best of that era’s back-to-nature movement with the techno-optimism that defined the day.
It’s a banger of a way to wind down quite the year for both parties. Brain Dead has brought its trademark irreverence to iconic fashion brands A.P.C. and Converse. Whereas The North Face announced its new FUTURELIGHT waterproof technology, revived its iconic Trans-Antarctic Parka, and previewed a new “design-led” vision for the brand under Creative Director Tim Hamilton. TNF will even reportedly release a proper fashion collection in Spring 2020.
Now, as The North Face pushes the envelope with bigger and better Summit Series gear for its extreme athletes, the brand seems poised to do the same in the lifestyle space. In doing so, it acknowledges this “outdoor gear as fashion” trend as a way to reach new customers but also embrace the long-existing urban customer many outdoor industry stalwarts have long neglected.
Initialy launched in-store at Dover Street Market Los Angeles on 29 November, followed by DSM NYC on 04 December, the debut The North Face x Brain Dead collection is now available online directly from The North Face, with prices marked between $50 and $500.