The North Face Is Closing All 113 of Its Stores — but It’s Not What You Think

The North Face is making a statement this Earth Day.

On April 22, the outdoor standout will shut down all 113 of its stores in the United States and Canada, as well as its global headquarters to commemorate the annual event, which draws attention to the importance of environmental protection. The VF Corp.-owned brand said closing its doors on Earth Day will provide its employees ample opportunity “to disconnect and explore.” It is also hoping to make a major push to have the occasion recognized as a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration, and this Earth Day, we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Tim Bantle, global GM of lifestyle at The North Face. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it.”

Starting today, the label will activate “Explore Mode” in major cities leading up to Monday’s Earth Day observance. As part of the initiative, The North Face will partner with musicians — including Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Ella Mai — artists and culinary influencers to host a series of experiences that encourage people to disconnect digitally and engage with their surroundings.

“’Explore Mode’ urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward,” Bantle noted.

Today in New York, Mai will join vintage fashion collector and curator Brian Procell to throw a “’90s throwback party.” At the event, the singer will pay homage to the era’s music and fashion while Procell’s collection, including vintage looks from The North Face, is on display.

On Wednesday, celebrity chef Angela Dimayuga will bring a select number of consumers along for the ride as she explores the flavors of New York that bring her inspiration. On Thursday, model and activist Gabrielle Richardson will take over Skylight Soho to curate an art exhibition under the theme of exploration.

The brand will also activate “Explore Mode” in other major cities globally, including Munich, Paris, and London and Manchester in England.

The week will culminate with The North Face and 15 organizations around the world partnering to launch a global Change.org petition aimed at making Earth Day an officially recognized holiday.

The North Face joins a growing list of outdoor brands such as REI and Patagonia that are becoming increasingly vocal about social causes, most notably environmental protection. For such names, closing their doors and trading off short-term profits has become a powerful tool to make a statement about serious global issues.

REI in 2015 launched #OptOutside — an initiative that sees the retailer close its doors on Black Friday, pay its employees for the day and encourage them, and REI shoppers, to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Despite the short-term sales loss for a day of store closures, experts have suggested REI enjoyed a significant marketing payoff because of its messages around social responsibility.

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