The North Face is a behemoth in the outdoors industry, and by 2015 the brand has a goal to grow its business substantially to reach $3 billion in sales. Its influence is huge, from product development and sponsored athletes to trends on the retail floor.
I had a chance to sit down with the company’s president, Todd Spaletto. Here are some excerpts from our Q&A on gear and the outdoors world.
Gear Junkie: What event or expedition are you most excited about for this coming year?
Todd Spaletto: We are doing a few amazing expeditions. But I am really excited about the Olympics. [The North Face designed the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team uniforms.]
What are your personal goals for 2014 in fitness or the outdoors?
I’m going to make it public. I am going to train for either a marathon or a 50K.
What is your favorite new product for 2014 from your company?
The Fuse Form outerwear stands out. These are jackets made from one single piece of fabric. They are cut intricately and folded into shape.
Name one product you’d like to see come to market that doesn’t yet exist.
In general, I’d like to see more innovation in equipment. Hard goods have not evolved like apparel and outerwear have. But for something concrete, one product would be a reactive fabric technology. It would react and change properties with the environment and adapt to the weather or the person sweating and being active in the outdoors.
The North Face has hopes to reach $3 billion in sales. How will this happen?
To start, we hope to increase our international sales. There are also distribution strategies, including direct-to-consumer sales and getting our products in more stores. For example, we are now in more than 400 specialty-running stores in the U.S., and it’s growing.
Put “$3 billion in sales” in perspective. What would it mean if the company gets to this level?
For one thing, The North Face will hopefully grow to be known as more than a cold weather brand. We are a year-round active brand.
How does a giant outdoors brand “keep its soul,” so to speak?
A big part of soul is corporate culture. Ours is strong. The geography of where the brand is also helps. We are near the ocean, mountains, and have access to almost anything in the outdoors very close in and around the Bay Area. That makes an impact. —Stephen Regenold