The North Face just opened a new kind of store for outdoors enthusiasts, and it was made to smell like Yosemite

North FaceBethany Biron/Business Insider

  • The North Face is revamping its global physical store strategy, debuting a new aesthetic starting with its store in Soho, Manhattan. The interactive store is centered on "base camps for exploration," with differentiated spaces depending on activity type and apparel needs.
  • The North Face has also put a concerted effort into spotlighting its heritage and sustainability efforts, which are evident throughout the store.
  • We took a tour of the new space and learned about the inspiration for the refreshed concept.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The North Face is rolling out a refreshed global retail concept, debuting its "basecamps for exploration" approach with a new 8,000-square-foot store in the heart of Manhattan's shopping district.

On Friday, the outdoor retailer opened the doors to its new store in Soho, a sprawling, two-story location that reflects The North Face's increased efforts around sustainability and celebrating its heritage.

Mark Parker, vice president of direct to consumer at The North Face, said the retailer was methodical in developing the new aesthetic, which integrates flourishes like chairs made out of recycled duffle bags, as well as a specially formulated scent intended to smell like a visit to Yosemite National Park.

Read more: Urbanites are dropping hundreds of dollars on hiking clothes - and it's fueling explosive success for Patagonia and The North Face

"Instead of only providing a seamless consumer experience, which used to be the sole purpose of the store, now the purpose is to inspire and enable experiences, because that's where we were born back in '66," Parker said. "That's our heritage. We were born on a mountain and adopted by the city."

The New York City location is the first in a forthcoming series of global renovations, which The North Face plans to roll out to each of its stores by 2024.

Parker took us on a tour of the store in advance of its official opening on August 9. Here's what we saw.

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The new North Face store in Soho, Manhattan, marks the debut of the brand's new store strategy, which will be replicated across all global physical retail locations.

The new North Face store in Soho, Manhattan, marks the debut of the brand's new store strategy, which will be replicated across all global physical retail locations.

The 8,000-square-foot Soho store is located on Broadway, which is one of the busiest parts of Manhattan in terms of foot traffic. Revamped Seattle and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, stores will open in the coming weeks, followed by locations in Europe this fall.

As soon as we entered the store, our eye was drawn to a gleaming light-up display of classic North Face styles, positioned in front of the company's tagline, "Never stop exploring."

As soon as we entered the store, our eye was drawn to a gleaming light-up display of classic North Face styles, positioned in front of the company's tagline, "Never stop exploring."

The store also has a distinct, refreshing smell. Parker explained that the scent was specially developed for The North Face to evoke the "smell of Yosemite."

The first floor is home to menswear, unisex branded apparel, and backpacks. The second floor includes womenswear, footwear, and equipment.

The first floor is home to menswear, unisex branded apparel, and backpacks. The second floor includes womenswear, footwear, and equipment.

The new store is heavily focused on spotlighting The North Face's storied history, including this replica of an early-stage design of the logo. The brand is named after the coldest and most unforgiving side of a mountain.

The new store is heavily focused on spotlighting The North Face's storied history, including this replica of an early-stage design of the logo. The brand is named after the coldest and most unforgiving side of a mountain.

"We really focused on our heritage and what you see is really part base camp, part archives," Parker said. "It's very different than a normal retail experience you would have felt at our previous stores."

The store features several displays honoring the beloved items of The North Face's founders and athletes, including the original duffel bag used by the Canadian rock climber Peter Croft.

The store features several displays honoring the beloved items of The North Face's founders and athletes, including the original duffel bag used by the Canadian rock climber Peter Croft.

Also on the first floor, we found the sleeping bag used by rock climber Emily Harrington after especially challenging conditions rendered her immobile on the face of a mountain overnight.

Also on the first floor, we found the sleeping bag used by rock climber Emily Harrington after especially challenging conditions rendered her immobile on the face of a mountain overnight.

The North Face releases a small capsule collection each year as part of the Walls Are Meant For Climbing initiative, seen here.

The North Face releases a small capsule collection each year as part of the Walls Are Meant For Climbing initiative, seen here.

The store has essentials like the Denali fleece, as well as new features like individual booths with mirrors for shoppers to try on apparel and hooks to hang their bags and belongings.

The store has essentials like the Denali fleece, as well as new features like individual booths with mirrors for shoppers to try on apparel and hooks to hang their bags and belongings.

The first floor also includes a robust collection of bags and duffels in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

The first floor also includes a robust collection of bags and duffels in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

The North Face has made a concerted effort to enhance its sustainability efforts to be on par with competitors and environmentally friendly leaders like Patagonia.

The North Face has made a concerted effort to enhance its sustainability efforts to be on par with competitors and environmentally friendly leaders like Patagonia.

Signs like this one — which reads "If there is no wilderness, we aren't going to have a business" — continue to drive the sustainability message home.

Signs like this one — which reads "If there is no wilderness, we aren't going to have a business" — continue to drive the sustainability message home.

The seating below is made from recycled duffel bags.

Around the store, we saw several products with displays indicating that the items are made using recycled materials, like these T-shirts ...

Around the store, we saw several products with displays indicating that the items are made using recycled materials, like these T-shirts ...

... as well as these T-shirts made from single-use plastic.

... as well as these T-shirts made from single-use plastic.

Similar to Patagonia, the new stores now include "Clothes The Loop" donation boxes for recycling clothing from any brand, in any condition.

Similar to Patagonia, the new stores now include "Clothes The Loop" donation boxes for recycling clothing from any brand, in any condition.

The North Face has also worked to expand its product assortment to include pieces for urban dwellers looking for both functionality and style.

The North Face has also worked to expand its product assortment to include pieces for urban dwellers looking for both functionality and style.

The city section includes several updated versions of classic looks ...

The city section includes several updated versions of classic looks ...

... including this reimagined 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket.

... including this reimagined 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket.

The store was especially designed to encourage community learning. In the back of the first floor is the "campfire," where visitors can access resources and recommendations for local outdoor adventures.

The store was especially designed to encourage community learning. In the back of the first floor is the "campfire," where visitors can access resources and recommendations for local outdoor adventures.

Shoppers can also browse the library and take a look at its various books and maps.

Shoppers can also browse the library and take a look at its various books and maps.

Each store will have a custom recommendation guide tailored to the community.

Each store will have a custom recommendation guide tailored to the community.

In September, The North Face will begin a partnership with Mappy Hour, a group of outdoor specialists, that will convene small educational groups at the Campfire to discuss suggestions for exploration

"Whether it's an urban exploration here in New York or getting out to the wilds of Central Park or even further, they'll help you build that excursion and take you on it," Parker said.

To appeal to its phone-obsessed shoppers, The North Face built in a power charging station.

To appeal to its phone-obsessed shoppers, The North Face built in a power charging station.

Near the register, we spotted a buy-online-pick-up-in-store station, where members of The North Face's loyalty program, VIPeak, can pick up items and try them. They can also swap sizes and colors as needed.

Near the register, we spotted a buy-online-pick-up-in-store station, where members of The North Face's loyalty program, VIPeak, can pick up items and try them. They can also swap sizes and colors as needed.

Next, we ventured downstairs.

Next, we ventured downstairs.

High-definition portraits of North Face-affiliated athletes line the wall leading to the lower level.

High-definition portraits of North Face-affiliated athletes line the wall leading to the lower level.

The first thing we saw downstairs was the Summit Series collection of The North Face's highest performance apparel, developed with advanced technology for the harshest conditions.

The first thing we saw downstairs was the Summit Series collection of The North Face's highest performance apparel, developed with advanced technology for the harshest conditions.

"The Summit series, so aptly named because it will take you to the summit, is the pinnacle of what we do. It's where we have all the technology in our apparel," Parker said.

He continued: "With our athletes, these are tried and tested and proven before they come to market. It's this technology that then feeds down into the apparel and outerwear that we sell to a consumer who may not be ascending Everest, but still wants that same safety features and warmth that this will offer."

The lower level houses a variety of equipment for activities like camping, hiking, and climbing.

The lower level houses a variety of equipment for activities like camping, hiking, and climbing.

It's also where we found unique sleeping bags like this fun floral design.

It's also where we found unique sleeping bags like this fun floral design.

Parker said the store will soon begin hosting tutorials for shoppers on topics such as how to pitch a tent.

Parker said the store will soon begin hosting tutorials for shoppers on topics such as how to pitch a tent.

We also found a selection of The North Face shoes.

We also found a selection of The North Face shoes.

The women's section includes updated designs of performance and loungewear, including the fun patterns pictured here.

The women's section includes updated designs of performance and loungewear, including the fun patterns pictured here.

Ultimately, we thought the new retail concept was refreshing, well-executed, and thoughtfully planned.

Ultimately, we thought the new retail concept was refreshing, well-executed, and thoughtfully planned.
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