Ever since the North Face launched its iconic Denali Fleece in 1988, Polartec® and The North Face have been as close as two legs in a monoski. Now, more than three decades later, we’re locked in with our friends once again as they take on their latest exploration: Circular Design. After an extensive design study, The North Face has worked out a way to construct their iconic fleeces from recycled materials—and design them to be recycled once again after their lifespan. We’re proud to provide The North Face with 100% recycled fleece for their Alpine Polartec® Collection, the first of the brand’s Circular Design collections.


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The North Face was born in a time of great exploration: the late 1960’s. It was an idea that took seed somewhere between the expansive faces of Yosemite’s Half Dome and the mind-expanding culture of San Francisco. They’ve been following their mantra “never stop exploring” ever since. These adventurers have traveled to the ends of the Earth many times over in search of the highest peaks, the steepest lines, and the most impossible climbs. But with their latest mission, The North Face is exploring something closer to home: The life cycle of their clothing.

The North Face found that in the United States, 66% of discarded textiles end up in landfills. How could they save more of their own garments from this trashy fate? The answers, they found, were designing for responsible disposal and facilitating the recycling and reuse process afterward.

So in 2020, The North Face launched the Renewed Design Residency program to provide their designers with the opportunity to learn the principles of circular design and implement them into future products. The designs focused on minimizing waste, planning for disassembly, and enabling a cycle-ability at the end of the garment’s useful life through thoughtful mono-material construction. During the testing that led to the Alpine Polartec® Collection, The North Face found they could tear down these new products within 6 seconds and reuse 97% of the materials.


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In Fall 2022, The North Face launched the Alpine Polartec® Collection, their first Circular Design line, for both men and women. Made from recycled materials, and made to be recycled again, the team found they could recreate the look, feel and functionality of their most iconic fleece pieces while still implementing circular design principles.

The first step for making this line a reality was finding a suitable mono-material fabric that was fully recycled and recyclable, but gave up none of the performance of virgin fleece. Polartec 200 Series Fleece, made from 100% recycled polyester, was the obvious choice. The material met all of The North Face’s circularity requirements, but also had the classic feel and performance their customers expect.

The next step for the team was redesigning the trims and closures to be 100% polyester wherever possible so they can be recycled together with the fleece at the end of their lifespan—like the full-polyester drawcords. Other trim elements like zippers are limited to minimize the amount of disassembly required before the garments are recycled.

<center>COMPLETING THE CIRCLE</center>

To facilitate recycling, the North Face is going all in on takebacks with their new Renewed Takeback Program. Customers can drop their used gear at a retail or outlet store, and The North Face will give it a second chance. The gear is inspected and washed or repaired, if necessary. Depending on its condition, gear is either resold, recycled or donated. Either way, this gear is built to live on after a life on the trails!

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