Gucci x The North Face is here – and it's perfect for dressing up in lockdown

Designer clothes you can wear to the park. What could be better than that?

Gucci

It is possible to momentarily put aside an out-of-control global pandemic on a grim Monday in January if you turn up the sound loud enough on the Gucci x The North Face “Off the Grid” short video. I know, because I did it this morning and found myself humming cheerfully in an entirely unexpected way. 

Featuring a group of photogenic hikers scaling Alpine peaks in dazzling summer sunshine to the upbeat sounds of Creedence Clearwater, the film is wonderfully uplifting. And oh, the clothes. Packed with whimsical floral skirts, prints inspired by The North Face collections from the Seventies, vibrant primary coloured jackets, and outdoor versions of Gucci’s famous monogram jackets and bucket hats, it is hiking gear like you have never seen before. 

The collection is available to buy today from Selfridges and from 22nd of January on Gucci.com (with Christmas raffle winners getting first dibs on the goods). But this is online shopping with a twist: instead of browsing the regular Selfridges website, you need to book an appointment here, after which you will be given an allotted time to visit a virtual Selfridges corner shop with a personal shopper to run you through the clothes. From late January, the same service will be offered at selected Gucci stores. 

Today’s appointments have already sold out, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After a year where so much of the usual designer fare has been rendered redundant (other than giving us something lovely to look at), this is a collaboration I want to wear now rather than at some unspecified point in the future when we have all been vaccinated.  

The North Face x Gucci pop up at the Selfridges Corner Shop Credit: Gucci

That’s why the outerwear for this new collection will likely sell out first. It’s based on The North Face's original designs from the Seventies, which tie in neatly with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele's own love for the decade that has helped form his distinctive aesthetic.  

While they may strike you as an odd couple at first (Italian fashion and a sports apparel brand? Really?) it actually makes sense. Gucci has not only ditched the fashion calendar in favour of bi-annual seasonless collections, it has also made strides towards becoming carbon neutral, even releasing campaign videos about the importance of recycling and renewing, including one featuring explorer David de Rothschild.

The North Face, meanwhile, has been publicising its efforts to reduce the impact of apparel manufacturing on the environment through the use of a new nylon fabric made from regenerated materials that is used in this collection. 

Aesthetically the collaboration also couldn’t be better timed. If I had to pick one fashion item that has risen triumphant from a winter of lockdowns, it would be the duvet coat and all the deliciously comforting imagery that is bound up in the name. For most of us, quilted coats are the only piece of clothing we are currently showing the outside world, and there is a huge appetite for well-made, well-cut designs. 

Up for grabs from “Off the Grid” are the kind of fashionably collared goose feather-filled padded jackets and coats we have lived in this year, as well as windbreakers, quilted gilets and cosy fleeces – all of which have become a de facto uniform in a winter of outdoor socialising. 

Available in ballet-slipper pink, tangerine orange and a sugary brown, as well as a new range of floral and arty patterns thought up by Gucci and The North Face, they are really lovely to look at. And given laps of the park are our red carpets for the time being, they are also the best chance the fashion crowd has of showing off their style credentials. 

The accessories are also worth noting, and include two very Seventies backpacks, some knitted bobble hats, monogrammed bucket hats, and a pair of lined leather hiking boots. Oh, and for when the world opens up again, there’s even a tent and sleeping bag, which may or may not win you popularity points down at the local campsite. 

For reluctant hikers like me, could this collection also point towards a new, healthier future? Years ago, when I was living in Hong Kong, I agreed to meet a group of friends for a hike and lunch. Focused on the lunch part of the day, I turned up in floral print trousers and was much mocked for the rest of the morning. I didn’t go hiking often after that, but perhaps all I needed was a bit of Gucci to get me up springing those mountains...