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North Face Gang | A Symbol of Success

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Postby Liv » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:47 pm

We have this joke, called the North Face Gang. Using ASL (American Sign Language), several of my friends have adapted the "N" and "F" to symbols for this cheeky club. It's amazing how none of us noticed it before, but once you start looking for it, you're going to see it everywhere: North Face products. They're taking over this world. In fact, if you don't own at least one North Face Item, you're a completely loser, incapable of anything, and unlikely to ever amount to anything in this world.

Think I'm lying? Try this: the next time you're in a restaurant or a public place, start looking around, and count the North Face apparel. I think you'll be very astonished by how many people are adorned with this symbol of capitalism: a form of fashion called wilderness chic.

I first became aware of the phenomenon in Belgium, travelling with about twenty Americans all from much more expensive U.S. Universities than I arrived from. I'm standing their in the frigidness of Europe with a micro-thin cotton jacket from Family Dollar while each of them wore (what I later learned) was a $150-$200 fleece, and very warm, North Face jacket. I was familiar with the name prior, I knew it was for "hikers, etc."- but why were they wearing them? Well the answer is, to be cool, to fit in.

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When I flew back to the States and went out for beer with friends, I explained this phenomenon, and then we together, began this game of counting the number of drinkers entering the bar with North Face. By the end of the night, 90% of the patrons were wearing the garb and accessories made for braving the wilderness, in the ironically moderate climate of NC. "Never Stop Exploring" my rear, the only thing they were exploring was a menu of beer. We turned it into a drinking game, whereby every time you spot a North Face Jacket, you're forced to take a shot. Needless to say we were all drunk by the end of the night.

If you know me, I'm as anti-capitalist as they come. I don't give into trends, and I rarely buy name brand clothing. But I wondered, could simply owning a status symbol, something that immediately says to others "I'm in your club", open doors for me? So I decided, especially since I needed one anyways, and since I was trying to re-conform to American culture, to buy a North Face backpack for school. The cost? A staggering $99. I could hear my coupon-clipping father cursing in my head as I swiped my card through the reader. Did it change my life? Probably.

Let me give you an example. The other day, I was walking to E-Lot from UNCG. E-lot is about 1k from the school, through a rather shady part of town on Lee Street. Though I never try to judge the characters I see on the street, on this one occasion I witnessed a young woman randomly talking to herself, acting a bit rabid. At first I was cautious of her as I approached, but then I saw she was wearing a North Face back-pack, and instantly realized that this woman wasn't going to rob me, (though there is what they call the North Face Mafia gang) -no clearly, she has enough money to own North Face, to be a part of the club, she was okay. Suddenly everything was fine, and we had an unspoken understanding as we passed each other, and I flipped her my N.F. gang sign.

As with almost every cultural observation I ever write about, I like to research stuff before I write about it. Rarely am I the only one who thinks about these things. Sure enough, I find this article on CNN about the same phenomenon in Korea. The title of the paragraph: Losers and backbreakers:

North Face jacket wearers can be immediately classified according to the type of North Face jacket they wear. This is apparently a common phenomenon in elementary and middle schools in particular, where the jackets are so popular they have been dubbed "the uniform worn over the uniform," or "backbreakers,"

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So for God's sake, if you live in America and have children in school... buy them a North Face Jacket or they will never amount to anything. On the other hand, if you're too cheap or poor, you can subsequently buy a knock-off embroidered patch from Spain on Ebay and have Granny sew it on to your Wal-Mart Jacket. If you're even more of a anti-establishment sort of person, there's the (now defunct) South Butt (or Butt Face) line of clothing, which is, a pun of the N.F. brand. This of course, unless your school has ban the brand because of the theft, and violence associated with it (it has happened).

Oh if I didn't mention, there''s only two types of people in this world. The Wal-Mart Gang, and the North Face Gang. Social economic status has never been easier to understand in America.
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Postby smiler125 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:57 am

I actually dodge the North Face brand because everyone is wearing it - so common!

I also don't like being ripped off
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Postby SouthernFriedInfidel » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:26 am

It strikes me as being rather like a religion. People just HAVE to tell you the brand they wear. Now, I like at times to get stuff from L. L. Bean, mostly because it's comfortable AND because their stuff doesn't have a bloody embarrassing logo on the back, chest or sleeve.
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Postby A Person » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:21 am

Look for the Mountain Equipment Coop logo


Then you can go up to them and say "You're from Canada, ain'tcha, eh?
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Postby Liv » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:48 am

A lot of my stuff is Quechua, a french brand, I acquired while living in Belgium.

I went over to Paris this last weekend, and rather like just fitting in, rather than sticking out like an American.
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