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January 14, 2019

The North Face in breathable waterproof fabric breakthrough

By Beth Wright

Outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear brand The North Face has unveiled what it claims is the world’s most advanced breathable and waterproof outwear technology that has the potential to be applied to any garments.

FutureLight is a new breathable waterproof material that VF-owned The North Face says has been developed using innovative nanospinning technology that has allowed designers to add “unprecedented” air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time. 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 before.

In addition, 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 customise the fabric for specific usage, 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, the brand claims.

“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,” explains Scott Mellin, global general manager of mountain sports at The North Face. “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.”

Sustainability is another benefit, with new practices in the fabric creation process allowing the brand to responsibly create three-layer garments through the use of recycled fabrics and production that cuts chemical consumption – as well as being produced in a cleaner, solar-powered factory.

“Disruption is one of the key elements in the DNA of The North Face brand,” Mellin adds. “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.”

As well as being tested by the brand’s global athlete team, the company has worked with independent third-party safety certification testing organisations including UL (Underwriters Laboratories) to push the limit of the FutureLight fabric. The test methods developed were said to be 50% more stringent than the current standard for the outdoor industry.

FutureLight fabric will first become available to consumers in The North Face’s autumn 2019 product line and will be featured across the brand’s pinnacle performance collections.

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