Interview: How The North Face Plan to Propel Trail Running with VECTIV
The North Face might be responsible for certifiably hardcore outdoors products like the Mountain Light jacket and Geodome tent, but the adventure brand has also stepped foot into a formidable footwear offering over the years. VECTIV is TNF’s latest innovation for the trail running world, which is helping intrepid types experience a spring in their step as they venture further and faster off-road.
We linked up with TNF’s Senior Director of Global Footwear, Michael Thompson, to talk about how VECTIV could change the outdoors sneaker scene.
Why do you think GORP is currently a prevailing aesthetic in the sneaker world?
It’s definitely part of a wider trend where consumers are seeking products with function, items that have authenticity and rich technology built in. The purpose the product serves ultimately becomes a reflection of the individual’s identity – and that’s an exciting development for us.
Which trail shoe trends have you identified over the past few years?
The world of trail – the sport, the leisure, and everything that sits alongside it – is growing, so it’s natural that more attention is paid to it. The desire to get out and explore the world around us was growing before the pandemic, and will likely continue after. So, any footwear that can help enhance the enjoyment of the outdoors – be it running, hiking or walking – will find its place amongst consumers.
Can you explain TNF’s latest VECTIV technology?
VECTIV is a totally new footwear technology and will be a platform for our footwear development to be built upon. The unique combination of a plate for forward propulsion and lateral stability alongside a rocker midsole not only maximises energy return on the trail, but is also highly tuneable. For example, the Flight VECTIV carries a carbon plate for maximum energy return and speed. Meanwhile, the Enduris offers more cushioning and uses a TPU plate for that same stability.
The Flight VECTIV is reportedly the first trail runner to use an energy-returning carbon fibre plate. How do you think this will influence the wider footwear industry?
It’s an exciting time for the industry as a whole, and we’re stoked that we are bringing a game-changing innovation to the trail. Our global athletes have now clocked up more than 20 Fastest Known Times (basically a record time for a given route) wearing VECTIV footwear. And once races resume we’re hoping to propel athletes to the podiums too – which will no doubt attract lots of industry attention!
While VECTIV will be primarily used for performance shoes, what design considerations have you made to ensure the product’s crossover appeal with other markets and disciplines?
Because VECTIV technology is really tuneable, the design concept and framework can be applied to all trail footwear, not just the top-end of trail runners. It’s all about enhancing people’s experiences of the outdoors and enabling exploration – wherever that may be.
TNF have collaborated with a number of brands – including Gucci, Supreme and Brain Dead – on the apparel front. Are there any future plans for VECTIV footwear colabs?
We’ve got some cool ideas and projects in the pipeline but you will need to wait on that front, I’m afraid! I will say this is very much the beginning of the journey. VECTIV was more than two years in development, and we’re already hard at work on VECTIV 2.0 and 3.0, which is something that’s brilliant to say!
For more info about VECTIV, visit The North Face.