Following the recently announced reboot of the North Sails outdoor and sportswear brand, we met Ben Mears, global creative director, who explained how the brand will develop.
What elements will characterize the relaunch of North Sails?
It’s not a relaunch, rather a recovery and stress on this brand’s genuine roots and DNA with the aim of strengthening our presence abroad and especially in key markets such as Germany, Spain, France and UK.
How will the collection develop?
It will present a unique soul which will be displayed in two different ways–a more lifestyle one and another more technical one.
It will evolve along with its customers. In cities and at the sea we demand more from our clothes: more comfort in movement, more temperature control, more durability and–importantly–more sustainability. This ethos is one that stretches across the collection and means a high performance sailing jacket has the same foundations and the same handwriting as our polo shirts and core lifestyle pieces. The aim is to not diffuse lines but solidify our whole collection identity as a stylish performance brand. We will present two collections per year (f/w and s/s) together with dedicated capsule collections.
Is the collection offering pieces made with highly innovative fabrics or embedded with technology?
Our f/w 2018-19 collection is using technical fabrics such as three-layer materials with seamed tapes and ergonomic cuts thus underlining the brand’s own technical roots.
We opt for promoting the idea of layering: North Sails styles can be combined together to better challenge all weather conditions and consumers’ needs. Our fall collection employs durable waterproof shells and breathable membrane materials adding performance across the entire outerwear range. The inclusion of mid layer soft shell and fleece, and wicking base layer styles are designed to complement the offer and help the wearer for changing environments.
We are constantly testing and developing new technology in all of our garments. Must-haves in the future will be both notable tech moments such as solar polar integrated charging backpacks and quick lock magnetic zip fastenings, but also in the technology that makes our greatest explorations possible: lighter, stronger and more versatile fabrics together with styles that are ergonomically cut and made with multiple different fabrics to increase warmth or durability.
Which type of consumer is the new collection aimed at?
Our consumer is 25- to 40-year-old. He likes sports and active life both at sea but also in the city and shares the values of the brand–conservation, innovation and exploration. We develop our collection for men and women and care to offer both great functional design and style. Whilst the men’s collection currently accounts for 176 different pieces, we see an opportunity to progress womenswear as our female customers willingly embrace the move towards more active styles.
You have just mentioned “conservation” among North Sails’ founding aspects. Is the brand involved in environmentally friendly issues? How?
Sustainability is more and more important as the final consumer pays attention to this matter. This is the reason why I mentioned “conservation” as one of our pillars. We are actively involved in practices of conservation of the sea, our element, starting from the choice of the materials though also by choosing to save oceans from plastic.
Starting from s/s 2018, North Sails Apparel will dedicate 1% of retail revenue to Ocean Family Foundation which is supporting those projects aiming at the conservation and cleaning of the ocean. It is also working to raise awareness for Ocean Conservation in its media campaigns and events. Moreover, we are exploring the use of recycled plastics throughout the collection–from woven polyester shells to recycled filament filler in our quilted jackets. Always for s/s 2018, we will also launch a T-shirt collection employing upcycled cotton and recycled PET.
Did you develop any new store concepts? Will you open new stores according to this new brand philosophy? When and where will they open?
We are going to renew our North Sails stores starting from our existing Milan flagship. Our new retail concept will combine the marine soul of the brand taking a more innovative and stylish direction to offer a unique customer experience. In March we will open a new store in Bologna.