Interview with Julian Lings: The North Face sustainability manager

Dec 03, 2019 BY Luke Rees

We recently had the chance to conduct an interview with Julian Lings, The North Face sustainability manager. The environment is big news at the moment and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. So it was interesting to find out how one of the outdoor industries biggest brands is making a difference.

Lhotse expedition in the Himalayas © The North Face

In the discussion we find out about how The North Face has developed eco friendly and sustainable practices. We also look at the Futurelight range, how it will revolutionise outerwear whilst also being more environmentally friendly.

Interview with Julian Lings

We asked The North Face sustainability manager the following questions:

Q. What is your relationship with the great outdoors?

A. I’ve always had a passion for travelling and exploring new places and fortunately with The North Face I’m able to combine this passion with work and help others to explore the outdoors and find out for themselves the benefits that this brings.

Q. How did you end up working for The North Face?

A. With The North Face, the brand’s heritage and reputation in sustainability, I was thrilled to be joining a company that has a heartfelt belief that brands have a key role to play in helping to address the environmental challenges that our planet faces.

It’s a privilege to work on the continued evolution of the brand’s sustainability strategy and bring to market products that leave an ever smaller footprint on our planet.

Interview with Julian Lings The North Face sustainability manager © The North Face

Q. What is the aim of your role as The North Face sustainability manager?

A. My responsibility centres on product sustainability, outdoor exploration and conservation. Essentially, we want to continue to develop industry-leading strategies with our products, events and brand ambassadors, empowering the next generation to enjoy the outdoors but in a sustainable way.

Q. We have heard a lot about the new FUTURELIGHT™ range. How is this is different to other outdoor gear?

A. FUTURELIGHT™ fabric is unique in that it was developed using innovative nanospinning technology that offers the first of its kind breathable, waterproof protection.

The nanospinning process used to create FUTURELIGHT™ fabric has allowed the brand to add unmatched air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time. The process creates nano-level holes, allowing for incredible porosity while maintaining total waterproofness, letting air move through the material and provide more venting than ever before.

Significantly, it’s an innovation that was developed out of specific requests from The North Face global athlete team looking for increased performance and breathability in their waterproof gear. Therefore, a focus on quality was our priority here.

Q. In what ways is FUTURELIGHT™ eco-friendly and sustainable?

A. With the launch of FUTURELIGHT™, The North Face is aiming to deliver industry-leading sustainability practices through its new fabric creation process. These advances have allowed the brand to responsibly create three-layer garments with face and backer layers made up of 90 percent recycled materials.

Futurelight material © The North Face

The production is also much more sustainable using less chemicals than standard waterproofing. The durability element of the technology further increases the longevity of the product, reducing the consumption of product by the consumer and all the environmental impacts that come with this.

Q. What is ThermoBall Eco and how does it make The North Face eco friendly?

A. ThermoBall Eco is the latest iteration of the award-winning down-alternative jacket. Every ThermoBall Eco style is made with 100% recycled insulation and the new collection has given the equivalent of 3.6 million plastic bottles new life this season.

Just the recycled insulation alone, sourced from fabric partners at Primaloft, is made from 100% recycled plastic diverted from landfill.

Q. Please explain the Clothes the loop initiative?

A. An estimated 3.1 million tonnes of textile waste go to landfills or incineration in Europe every year. We can’t stop people from outgrowing their clothes, wearing through them, or deciding that it’s time for something new.

However, we can help to ensure that worn clothes don’t end up in landfills. Through our Clothes The Loop programme, customers can bring in their old unwanted items of clothing, footwear and equipment and drop it in one of our collection bins to earn coupons towards their next purchase.

Interview with Julian Lings The North Face sustainability manager © The North Face

Q. In what other ways is The North Face eco-friendly and sustainable?

A. All our new products and developments keep these two concerns at the forefront but recently, we have launched a store in Birmingham which has been designed with sustainability at its heart. This is shown as it was created with FSC certified reclaimed wood, steel and granite and low VOC paints, with a focus on a decrease in waste production.

Furthermore, The North Face has committed to offsetting all carbon emissions from athlete expeditions. In addition earlier this year The North Face announced a formal partnership with EOCA (European Outdoor Conservation Alliance) and has funded projects across Europe including a reforestation project in Hardknott Forrest, UK; improving alpine biodiversity in the Berchtesgadener Land Biosphere Region, Germany and fighting single use plastic to protect the turtle nesting ecosystem in southern Calabria, Italy.

Q. What is your next step to improve the sustainability at The North Face?

A. We have exciting new product launches over the next few months, with a heavy sustainability focus. We are always working to lessen our impact and encourage the love of wild places.

We hope you found this interview with Julian Lings, The North Face sustainability manager, interesting and informative. If you want to check out The North Face range head to:

Please note all images are Copyright of The North Face. Most are from an expedition to Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest mountain in the Himalayas. The Athletes are wearing North Face FUTURELIGHT™ outerwear.


Multi Activity
eco, Environmentally Friendly, Expedition, Green, sustainability, The North Face

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