At a product experience in Las Vegas yesterday, The North Face unveiled FUTURELIGHT, a new breathable waterproof material that the brand says will “revolutionize the future of technical fabrics.” The material was developed using sustainable practices, says TNF, and an innovative Nanospinning technology that allows the brand’s designers to add unprecedented air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time.
“Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable. With FUTURELIGHT we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable,” Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face Scott Mellin said. “Imagine a waterproof t-shirt, sweater or even denim that you actually want to wear. Today we start with jackets, tents and gloves, but the possibilities could be endless.”
The process creates Nano-level holes, allowing for porosity while still maintaining total waterproofness, letting air move through the material and provide more venting than ever before, TNF executives explained. Nanospinning gives designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, construction (knit or woven), and texture to match athletes’ and consumers’ activity or environment. Designers can customize the fabric for specific usage, for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection for harsh, wet climates.
These advances also have allowed the brand to responsibly create three-layer garments through use of recycled fabrics and production that cuts chemical consumption, all while being produced in a cleaner, solar-powered factory.
“Disruption is one of the key elements in the DNA of The North Face brand. It is what our company was founded on and, to this day, we still believe that disruption is the key to future growth,” Mellin said.
“Our teams are constantly thinking about the future of our product technology portfolio and how we can push the limits to create the next best innovation for our athletes and consumers, which is how FUTURELIGHT came to life and why it will forever change what consumers expect from their product.”
The material has been tested extensively by the brand’s global athlete team and is expedition proven through use in the highest peaks and harshest environments, including the Himalayas’ Lhotse and Everestm, said TNF. While testing FUTURELIGHT fabric The North Face team alpinist, Jim Morrison climbed, and skied three 8000 Meter peaks 2018, including Everest, Cho Oyu and the world’s first descent of Lhotse Couilor with his partner Hilaree Nelson.
“During the past two years, our world class team of climbers, skiers, alpinists, snowboarders and trail runners has been rigorously testing FUTURELIGHT across every discipline to prove this technology in varying weather conditions and climates all over the world,” Nelson, The North Face athlete team captain, said. “In all my years in the mountains, I’ve never experienced a product that moved and performed as well as FUTURELIGHT. It is creating a new paradigm for what I expect out of a waterproof material.”
Beyond The North Face athletes internal testing labs, the brand worked with third-party independent experts including UL (Underwriters Laboratories). UL predominately tests waterproofing for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an organization that certifies first responder gear for firefighters, EMS and hazmat responders. The test methods developed were 50 percent more stringent than the current standard for the outdoor industry.
“The liquid integrity test for FUTURELIGHT is even more extreme compared to the NFPA testing that UL conducts, proving FUTURELIGHT is not only totally waterproof, but also fit for the harshest expeditions the outdoors has to offer,” Michael Seward of Underwriters Laboratories said.
FUTURELIGHT fabric will first become available to consumers in The North Face’s Fall 2019 product line and will be featured across the brand’s pinnacle performance collections.