The North Face has unveiled a new fabric – Futurelight – which it describes as the most advanced breathable-waterproof outerwear material available.
Revealed at CES2019 in Las Vegas, Futurelight was developed using innovative Nanospinning technology and sustainable practices before being put to the test in some of the world’s toughest, coldest conditions by the brand’s global team of athletes.
“Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable,” explained global GM of mountain sports at The North Face, Scott Mellin.
“With Futurelight, we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable. 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.”
With Futurelight technology, The North Face is also setting what it describes as a new standard in sustainability through new practices in the fabric creation process. These advances 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.
The Nanospinning process used to create Futurelight fabric has allowed the brand’s designers to add unprecedented air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time. The process creates “nano-level holes”, allowing for incredible porosity while still maintaining total waterproofness, letting air move through the material and provide more venting than ever before.
Nanospinning also 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 customise the fabric for specific uses – for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection for harsh, wet climates. The ability to adjust these factors in fabric construction is unprecedented in apparel, equipment and accessories.
“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,” said Mellin. “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.”
Inspired by The North Face global team of athletes looking for increased performance and breathability in their waterproof gear, Futurelight has since 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 Everest.
While testing the fabric The North Face team alpinist, Jim Morrison climbed, and skied three 8000m peaks last year, 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,” said Nelson, team captain with The North Face athlete team. “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) a world-renowned safety certification testing organisation, to push the limit of the Futurelight fabric. UL predominately tests waterproofing for the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an organisation that certifies first responder gear for firefighters, EMS and hazmat responders. The test methods developed were 50 per cent more stringent than the current standard for the outdoor industry.
Futurelight was unveiled at the world’s largest technology show, CES, under way in Las Vegas this week. The North Face partnered with world-renowned design agency Designworks, a BMW Group company, to create physical- and virtual-reality experiences to demonstrate the array of the new fabric’s technical capabilities, and potential to change how humans are protected from the elements.
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.