In a stunning turn of events for the climbing community, not only has an all-Nepalese team summited the last remaining winter 8,000er, K2, but two titans of the outdoor industry, The North Face and Gucci (yes, Gucci), have teamed up to bring about a new line of avant-garde outdoor apparel. And yes, by “avant-garde” we mean “cringeworthy.”
From Gucci: “A collaboration which connects two brands with similar history and values, The North Face x Gucci celebrates the spirit of exploration in select locations around the world.”
Similar history and values? Ouch for The North Face.
Celebrating the spirit of exploration in “select” locations around the world? Sheesh. Usually inflamed elitist boils like this are at least covered up with a few layers of concealer.
It’s honestly pretty hard to tell if this is some sort of 2020 prank or not. At first glance, the video announcing the collaboration comes off as blatant trolling (watch it, it’s worth it). And the prices? They’re even worse than you can imagine.
A pair of cotton shorts: $980.
A t-shirt: $650.
Hiking boots: $1,490.
A backpack big enough to fit two quickdraws and (maybe) an energy bar: $1,790.
Look, it’s not surprising that brands will be brands, and come up with whatever ways they can to sell shit to you. Just a couple years back, TNF got called out for sneaking their ads onto random Wikipedia pages. But the climbing community is a bit bummed because for some reason Jimmy Chin has also tacked his name onto the project. Chin did a photoshoot for the collab with Jared Leto (who would’ve guessed?), which has the latter top roping lines in J-Tree with the rope seemingly photoshopped out so it looks like he’s free soloing. (But who knows, maybe he is?)
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The evolution of Jimmy Chin: from documenting free soloing to faking free soloing. Oh, the price of fame.
(The outfits Leto wears in the photo shoot probably cost more than the entire budget of Free Solo, but I digress.)
Ironically, in an interview with Chin in Sidetracked about the collaboration, Leto talked about the ethics shared among climbers, “the expectations that you have of yourselves about your behaviour, your stewardship of the outdoors, your accountability.”
In that vein, Gucci really has taken some decent steps towards sustainability lately. They have a new creative director, Alessandro Michele, pushing for carbon neutrality, and recently released a collection made of recycled, regenerated, or bio-based apparel called “Off the Grid,” among other initiatives.
It makes for nice press. At the end of the day, however, they’re a brand that sells $650 t-shirts. Full stop.
The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful and pointless businesses in the world. Unless you’re buying technical apparel (and this Gucci x TNF nonsense is anything but technical), there is no reason not to shop used!
(A little tip from the author: for safe thrifting during the pandemic, try Swap.com.)
That aside, Jimmy’s just making some cash. It isn’t the first time he’s thrown himself into some contrived collaboration, so this author isn’t exactly surprised. The mind boggles to imagine what they paid him for this one. As a community, all we can really do is laugh it off and hope it’s not a sign of things to come.