The North Face Competitors

The North Face is an outdoor recreation equipment and apparel company that was founded by Susie Tompkins Buell and Douglas Tompkins in 1968. It started as a climbing gear supplier but has since become associated with mountaineering and a line of street apparel that many people wear as a status symbol.

The North Face surpassed $1 billion in sales for Q4 2021, the best quarter in the brand’s history with sales 27% higher than pre-pandemic levels. New president Nicole Otto – a 16-year Nike veteran – is poised to oversee the evolution of The North Face into a brand that consumers can purchase all year round and not just for certain seasons or applications. 

With this broader target audience, however, comes more competition.

Patagonia

Patagonia was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, who started selling rock climbing gear as early as 1957 under a company named Chouinard Equipment. 

Like The North Face, many who wear Patagonia brand apparel do so because of the status associated with the brand. Here, brand status is due to the company’s strict environmental stance and sustainability initiatives.

The company has a dominant 10% market share in the outdoor apparel market with products available in 38 countries.

Columbia Sportswear

Columbia Sportswear is an American manufacturer and distributor of products for outdoor enthusiasts, such as footwear, sportswear, ski apparel, accessories, and camping equipment.

After becoming a public company in 1998, Columbia acquired mountaineering equipment company Mountain Hardwear and footwear brands Sorel and Montrail, to name a few. 

The company is a significant presence in the American market, with a United States revenue of $2.06 billion in 2021.

Marmot

Marmot is an American outdoor apparel, camping gear, and sports goods company that was founded in 1974 by Tom Boyce, David Huntley, and Eric Reynolds. It was named after the Marmot Club, a social mountain climbing group that only admitted new individuals if they could summit a peak with a pre-existing member.

All three founders had also expressed an interest in making and commercializing their own mountaineering equipment, with Boyce previously making the climbing apparel for the Clint Eastwood film The Eiger Sanction.

Along with The North Face, Marmot was the first brand to offer soft-shell jackets lined with the waterproof membrane GORE-TEX. Marmot has also released a range of innovative sleeping bags and tents.

Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx is an outdoor clothing and climbing gear company that was founded as Rock Solid in Vancouver in 1989. The company still operates its original Canadian factory with 500 employees producing 10% of its global output. The other 90% is produced in factories across 21 different countries including China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Romania.

Like Patagonia, the overarching philosophy of Arc’teryx is related to low environmental impact. Indeed, the company believes that durable clothing is the strongest path to sustainability.

After several previous owners, Arc’teryx was purchased by Chinese multinational sports company Anta Sports in 2019.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose, formally known as Canada Goose Holdings Inc., is a Canadian manufacturer of winter clothing such as parkas, jackets, shells, gloves, vests, and hats. Today, the company is known for its specialized, down-filled jackets which it has been crafting since the early 1970s.

Canada Goose enjoys high brand equity – particularly in North America – with its distinctive red and white badge logo featuring a map of the Arctic. Products are more expensive than the competition since most are still made with Canadian labor.

The company was one of many to profit from a surge in eCommerce sales during the pandemic, with revenue exceeding $1 billion for the first time in 2021. Revenue was also helped by surging direct-to-consumer sales in China.

Key takeaways:

  • The North Face is an outdoor recreation equipment and apparel company that was founded by Susie Tompkins Buell and Douglas Tompkins in 1968. The North Face started as a climbing equipment manufacturer but has since branched out into apparel, sportswear, and accessories.
  • With 10% of the total outdoor apparel market and superior brand equity, Patagonia is the main competitor of The North Face in the United States. Marmot and Columbia Sportswear are two other American brands with a significant presence.
  • Canadian companies Arc’teryx and Canada Goose are perhaps more specialized than some of The North Face’s other competitors. But in the case of Canada Goose, sales nevertheless topped $1 billion in 2021.

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