The North Face began in 1966 as two alpine ski shops in the San Francisco Bay area. Opened by aspiring alpine ski racer Douglas Tompkins and his wife Susie, the shops were named “The North Face” to signify the type of gear they sold: fierce! In the Northern Hemisphere, the north face of a mountain is the coldest, iciest, and toughest to climb. Gear you take on that expedition better be tough. Although the shops were mostly ski gear and apparel, they also sold a small selection of other types of outdoor gear.
Shortly after establishing The North Face stores, Doug sold them to two brothers, who expanded the company’s number of retail outlets. The company sold again in 1968, this time to its most famous owner, Kenneth “Hap” Klopp. Hap not only added sleeping bags and pack production to the business but also tagged it with the popular logo that the company still uses today. The North Face’s easily recognizable logo, which consists of three concentrically smaller quarter-circles, is an interpretation of the famous Half Dome rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
The North Face expanded in the 1980’s to to create a line of extreme skiwear, and by the end of the decade they had become the only supplier in the U.S. to offer high-performance outerwear, skiwear, sleeping bags, packs and tents. Today, over 40 years later, The North Face offers an extensive line of high-tech outdoor apparel and equipment, and it continues to hold the reputation as the premier supplier of gear for the outdoor enthusiast.