The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is partnering with the North Face to launch the activewear brand’s debut digital archive. The archive is linked to the North Face’s campaign, It’s More Than a Jacket, which commemorates the brand’s 55-year history through four films, six new collections, and a series of SFMOMA programs.
Currently on Instagram, the North Face customers (or what the brand terms “explorers”) are invited to use the hashtag #MoreThanAJacket to submit images and stories detailing their relationship to the label for archival consideration. Pieces already archived include submissions from athletes Conrad Anker and Indrid Backstorm, rapper RZA, and pop-rock trio HAIM.
“By entering this jacket into the archive, I get the chance to relive and preserve the memories lived in it forever,” RZA said, referencing his memories of 1990s New York City.
Later, in Fall 2022, SFMOMA will unveil a series of programs chronicling iconic outdoor wear design, set to be exhibited alongside select images from the archive.
Why it matters
The North Face is not SFMOMA’s first fashion collaborator. In 2010, the Bay Area museum celebrated its 75th anniversary with a Gap partnership, releasing eight limited-edition T-shirts as part of its exhibition, 75 Years of Looking Forward. This latest partnership emerges at a moment when the fashion and museum sectors are increasingly intersecting — 2021 has already seen notable exhibitions like Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at Brooklyn Museum and In America at the Costume Institute.
With a combined number of 5 million-plus followers on Instagram, SFMOMA and the North Face get to tap a massive audience base, thus acquainting museum visitors to the label’s designs and the brand’s buyers to the museum experience.
The North Face will also be spotlighted as a brand deserving of aesthetic reflection, though, unlike the luxury fashion brands that have made it into exhibition spaces, it stands out for being more of the street than the atelier. While making it somewhat of an outlier in the museum sphere, the North Face is banking on that standing with an archive that invites audience participation as opposed to implementing a top-down curatorial approach.
What they said
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Bay Area-born the North Face to bring our community a wide range of unique and inspiring public programs. This partnership champions exploration, creative expression, and innovation that are critical to both of our organizations.” — Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab Director, SFMOMA
“With this archive, alongside SFMOMA, we are memorializing the people, products, and stories that continue to inspire our community and move the world forward.” — Mike Ferris, VP of Global Brand, The North Face