Product Research and Development with The North Face

Product Research and Development with The North Face


Product Research and Development with The North Face



This athlete summit was at ski legend and TNF athlete Scot Schmidt’s 25 acre property in the hills of Santa Cruz. In attendance were the TNF Action Sports design team and a large portion of the male and female ski and snowboard athletes. One important fact to note is that design team and athletes alike are all outdoor enthusiasts, so creating top-of-the line gear ultimately benefits each of us in our lifestyles. 


Within 30 minutes of arriving and setting up our TNF tents and laying out our TNF sleeping bags, we changed into our TNF mountain bike gear and went for a 3.5 hour ride in a nice rain storm; everyone was stoked! After burning some calories and warming up around the campfire, it was time to get down to business. We started out by looking at some Spring 2012 (Mountain bike stuff) prototypes; shoes, hydration packs, shorts, and jerseys (it all looks super sick, by the way!). Next we were shown some Fall 2012 protos (ski/snowboard stuff); ski and board travel bags as well as backcountry packs. Next, the athletes give their feedback, be it constructive criticism or high praise, for product features, design, and color, and give ideas for possible improvements. The designers often come back with solid reasons why athlete ideas won’t work; material specifics, things that may happen during production, etc. 


The next day was for athlete presentations. The primary purpose of the presentations is to give the design team inspiration for when they get back to the drawing board. Each athlete was instructed to bring in a favorite garment from their past, to describe their ideal outfit, or to talk about what makes them tick (or all three!). Everyone puts a lot of hard work into their presentations to assure that the design team has enough inspiration to work with. Some rap or sing songs, but mainly everyone just talks. Sage, Dave Short, and DCP got into some deep philosophy that was a little tricky to follow at times. At the end of the day, everyone had a good time, and the designers left with lots of inspiration for their next line of outerwear.

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