The North Face has revealed the uniforms that it designed for the new U.S. climbing team to wear at the Tokyo Olympics, and they are amazing. Climbing is one of four new sports that will debut at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, along with karate, skateboarding, and surfing.
We don’t know how U.S. competitors in karate, skateboarding, and surfing will look as we watch the Tokyo Olympics on NBC, but thanks to Steve Lesnard, CMO and global VP of product creation for The North Face, we have a good idea of how we’ll be able to pick out and cheer for U.S. climbers.
The North Face has been making climbing gear and clothing since 1968, but the U.S. Olympic climbing team uniforms are in a different league from its perennially popular consumer-facing line of polyester T-shirts and rip-resistant pants.
The climbing uniforms designed by The North Face are laser-cut, form-fitting, minimalist gear that look more like something you would see at the 100-meter run than you’d see at your local climbing gym. Steve Lesnard tasked The North Face’s lead designer Erica Cotrell with creating a breathable, lightweight design that captures the unique spirit of the U.S. climbing team, as well as the half-century heritage of bold and timeless design for which The North Face has become known.
The North Face also designed uniforms for the climbing teams of Austria, Japan, and Korea. The company used a grid system to create abstract fabric designs based on the stars and stripes of the American flag, the rising sun of the Japanese flag, the symbolic motion of the South Korean flag, and the three stripes of the Austrian flag.
Cotrell enlisted the help of leading climbers Nathaniel Coleman, Margo Hayes, and Ashima Shiraishi to keep the garments climber friendly, even after employing 4D scanning technology to make sure that the fit permitted maximum movement and articulation, before deciding on a final design.