The North Face’s Remade line started in 2020, when designers were researching how to make the coats more sustainable. The line began with identifying where designs were failing — buttons that broke easily or zippers coming undone — but evolved into an upcycling venture. Kellen Hennessy, a product designer for North Face, saw potential in the damaged items, given that many had parts that were still in perfect condition.
Most of the used garments the company collects are cleaned, fixed, and resold under The North Face Renewed initiative. But when items are too damaged, they’re thrown out. Until now.
From there, the Franken-Nuptse was born. Keeping the jacket’s classic design, each upcycled item is unique, featuring a pink sleeve or a camo patch, taken and sewn in from another coat.
“They’re visually interesting and eye-catching,” Hennessy told Fast Company. “I think it’s a way that people can kind of wear their values on their sleeves, so to speak.”
And it’s an important endeavor. An estimated 100 billion garments are made each year. In the U.S. alone, 11.3 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills in the same amount of time. With such a high demand for items, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of total global CO2 emissions and is the second-biggest consumer of water.
But upcycling isn’t as easy as producing new items.
“The biggest challenge is how to make upcycling efficient,” Hennessy said. “It’s not super common in big companies. It’s complicated. There’s so much variance that it takes a good amount of time and effort and logistics.”
Right now, Remade drops about 50 items every couple of months. But North Face is looking to make the process more efficient so more items can be released.