Lifestyle Fashion and Beauty 19 Jun 2016 Espirit the North Fa ...

Espirit the North Face...A life less ordinary

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NITISHA KAPUR
Published Jun 19, 2016, 2:37 am IST
Updated Jun 19, 2016, 2:37 am IST
The climb, frost bites and weather that can make even the most hardy give up.
Draping the wanderlust extreme outdoors and the preppy city slickers alike, Douglas Tomkins’ life is truly ironic.
 Draping the wanderlust extreme outdoors and the preppy city slickers alike, Douglas Tomkins’ life is truly ironic.

In the blistering cold of the “high Alps” where it’s not sub zero alone, intense wind chill probably had you biting your teeth. In the flats of the Arctic, where the only shelter from the roaring winds is the snow itself, in the Alpine forests where the precipitation coupled with the temperature and the wind-chill factor, makes you shudder incessantly — how has man traversed this far and lived to tell the tale? What makes the human species endeavour a journey to these terrains, which can best be described as “uninhabitable,” except for true grit!

In the words of Nelson Mandela. “There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

 

While I usually muse on fashion and its unending impact on our lives, today, I’d like to tell you a story replete with true grit, love for nature, “can-do-attitude” that gave us two behemoths in the fashion and apparel industry — Espirit and Northface. Son of an antique dealer and decorator, Douglas Rainsford Tomkins can be described as “conservationist, outdoorsman, philanthropist, filmmaker, agriculturalist, and businessman.”

Another story that doesn’t come with a high school graduation stamp, Douglas started his career selling mail order rock climbing and camping equipment. Today, for anyone braving these extreme terrains a “Northface” jacket is a must-have. What started as an ingenious design for tents led to a depth of apparel design made for the extreme cold. From mountaineers, to kayakers, to expeditions — people have long sported and trusted gear made the company that Douglas started way back in the early 60s.

 

His travails didn’t seize with making gear just for the crazy outdoors, what started as a small enterprise selling girls’ dresses from the back of a VW van became an enterprise with sales topping a $100 million by the year 1978. An enterprise, we know as Espirit.

Draping the wanderlust extreme outdoors and the preppy city slickers alike, Douglas Tomkins’ life is truly ironic. On December 8, 2015, Tompkins was kayaking with five others on General Carrera Lake in southern Chile when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize. Tompkins spent a “considerable amount of time” in waters 40°F (4 °C) below. He was flown via helicopter to a hospital in nearby Coyhaique, where he died hours later from severe hypothermia.

 

A man who had purchased a stellar two million acres of land in Chile, to create one of the largest private conversation parks, a man whose vision has kept thousands of extreme adventurers warm in blizzards and snow capped mountains... eventually froze to death!

That is true grit in a world where ordinary seems to work almost with an alacrity, here was a genuis who believed. Mountaineer, Ultra marathoner, triathelete, fitness evangelist and founder of Zago super drinks: Srid Varadaraj feels, “When you are exposed to Mother Nature’s beauty and its fury, you need to be properly geared to experience her magnificence. You have to be prepared for the worst when you are up there  high up on the mountain. Quality gear is a constant and trusted companion whether climbing the Matterhorn, trail running on the Jungfrau marathon, trekking the Langtang in Nepal or sweltering through the Singapore Ironman. When what you wear and carry on your body is all you have to survive in extreme conditions, you need a trusted and experienced gear to count on. From using tents in the ridiculously windy New Zealand’s Southern Alps, to backpacks on a waterfall ice climb in the French Alps , skiing down the Briethorn in Switzerland  or shoes  trekking up the lava rocks in Kilimanjaro , I always felt safe in the fact that my equipment is sound, comfortable and sturdy. Nothing gives you more confidence than that. Douglas Tomkins under stood what people need when pushed to their limits.”

 

May the spirit of the North Face be ever present in every adventurer, explorer and lover of nature and may they stay warm. Till next time, keep it sharp!

A fashion aficionado, film maker, script writer, stylist and marketing junkie. The writer indulges in the latest fashion and currently drives marketing for youth fashion brands in Indus League — A division of FLF..

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