• The North Face has extended its sustainable Cali Wool collection, made from Climate Beneficial Wool, which has a net negative carbon impact at the ranching stage of production.
  • To support the launch, the company tells just-style it is upping its commitment to climate beneficial products.
The Cali Wool beanie sold out online twice last year, showing a growing demand for sustainable products

The Cali Wool beanie sold out online twice last year, showing a growing demand for sustainable products

Outdoor clothing and equipment company The North Face is exploring new ways to incorporate climate beneficial materials into its products – including an expansion of its Cali Wool Collection made from Climate Beneficial Wool.

The brand first launched the line in 2017 with a beanie hat, and has now extended it to include a jacket and scarf. All products are made in the US from Climate Beneficial Wool, which has a net negative carbon impact at the ranching stage of production. 

Partnering with Bare Ranch in California and Fibershed, the non-profit behind the Climate Beneficial Wool programme, the initiative encourages ranchers to adopt carbon farming techniques that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere down into the soil, mitigating the effects of climate change.

Bare Ranch's carbon farming practices are expected to sequester 4,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. The climate conscious practices offset emissions equivalent to removing more than 800 cars from the road a year.

To support the new Cali Wool Collection products launching this year, The North Face says it is upping its commitment to climate beneficial products and purchasing five times as much Climate Beneficial Wool by volume compared to last year.

"It's important to us to keep innovating – to try new methods and sources, to improve the environmental performance of our products, and to manufacture in new and more responsible ways, wherever we can," James Rogers, director of sustainability at The North Face told just-style. "We strive to make sustainability part of everything we design, and then focus on making innovative products that have a positive effect on the environment and society.

"We believe a hyper-local, climate conscious approach to wool sourcing can reshape our relationship with our land."

Rogers says the company challenged itself to commercialise a product using climate beneficial materials; to find the right partners, fabrics, colours and story to bring the importance of addressing climate change to the forefront of its work and customers.

Efforts expand and scale

And it appears the company is looking to take this ambition beyond just the Cali Wool Collection by adopting a similar sourcing strategy to other The North Face lines.

"We want to be successful so that we can continue to expand and scale our efforts – but also to help other companies do the same," Rogers adds. "That's why drawing awareness to climate beneficial methods and creating a dialogue around regenerative agriculture is important to us. We have insights to share and lessons to teach and learn from, as do others in our industry.

"We will continue to explore opportunities to incorporate climate beneficial materials into our products, as well as invest in programmes and policies to support the transition to a low carbon economy. We're also currently evaluating other circular business models that would help extend the life of our products."

Coinciding with the Global Climate Action Summit, the launch of the extended Cali Wool Collection range builds on a legacy of climate action from the global outdoor retailer.

Renewable sources

At its headquarters in California, more than 100% of the company's electricity is provided by renewable sources, while it also tracks greenhouse gas emissions from its US facilities to monitor company progress towards emissions reduction.

The North Face says that while reducing the group's direct energy footprint is its first priority, the company has purchased offsets since 2007 for greenhouse gas emissions it hasn't yet eliminated.

"We're always looking for ways to minimise our footprint and create the most sustainable, innovative products," Rogers explains. "In 2010, we conducted three different lifecycle assessments for shoes, backpacks and jackets. From that, we learned that the majority of our impact comes from the materials and manufacturing stage of our products. If we continue to focus our efforts on the types of materials used and how they're made, that's the number one way we can reduce our impact. We are also focused on creating the most durable products on the market and extending the life as long as possible."

While The North Face is making its own strides towards tackling climate change and sustainability in apparel manufacturing, Rogers believes consumer awareness and demand is what is driving the need for a completely sustainable clothing industry.

"It's what drives us to be able to expand our sustainable product lines. We've seen this first hand through our sustainably sourced products.

"In the last few years, the apparel industry has made great strides in commercialising sustainable solutions. Of course, there is a long way to go and we will continue to see the industry take small but meaningful steps in the years to come."