Ain’t No Mountain High Enough for Three Well-known Brands – WWD

The health benefits of forest bathing have been detailed in recent years. But three outdoors-friendly brands are focusing on the greater heights of mountains to entice consumers and authenticate their marketing.

Vuarnet, Fire + Ice and The North Face have used some ingenuity and extreme adventurers to portray their respective brands in new lights and welcome new customers. Connecting with little-known mountain ranchers, outfitting a K2 climber and his team and creating AI-generated reasons to explore nature are among the ways these three companies are reinforcing their respective messages.

With a French alpine heritage that has been stretched to other mountainous regions of the world, Vuarnet presented more than climbers, hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts in its spring 2024 campaign. For the latest Vuarnet Fellowship Expedition, creative director Boramy Viguier was keen to meet mountain guides, farmers, shepherds, ranchers, forest rangers, rescuers, biologists and vulcanologists.

“Those laborers of the mountains fully belong to this community and more globally to the outdoor culture. They surely deserve, as any athlete or alpinist, to be equipped with the best protection. They spend most of their time in nature, sometimes in the most remote and exposed places.” he said via email.

The spring 2024 look book features images of not just the athletic people that Vuarnet equips, but also forest patrol officers, biologists and scientists. ”I feel they are high level mountaineers too. By working in the mountains. They are very much in the environment,” the creative director said.

Another outdoors-oriented brand, Fire + Ice, has been going to new heights — literally. The snowboard and skiwear label that is owned by Bogner has supported Willi Steindl on a K2 expedition, providing the accomplished climber with high-performance Fire + Ice attire and tracking his progress on the brand’s site. Steindl’s Instagram also gives followers play-by-play lessons about the challenge of trekking up 8,611 meters.

Rather than magnify the products side of his apparel choices, Fire + Ice breaks down some of the challenges that such achievements take. More than halfway done at Camp 2 at 6,700 meters, Steindl said his first impression of the mountain of mountains, which is called “The Savage Mountain,” was that this nickname is not without reason. “The mountain shows you that you’re not welcome.”

Online visitors learn how the altitude induces headaches, loss of appetite, freezing, coughing and heart palpitations. “You have every symptom that you don’t want to have, but the body has to adapt to the conditions,” he explained online, adding that the 1,800-meter descent from Camp 2 to K2 basecamp — an acclimation rotation — enables the body to recover.

Steindl has ascended 8,000-meter mountains before, having hiked up Mount Everest last year. He is plugging Fire + Ice on his Instagram and has been posting footage of the icy wonders that he has been encountering.

He and his team are pioneering a new route from Base Camp 4 to the summit for this year’s expedition to try to avoid what is known as “The Bottleneck.” That arduous 100-meter stretch in the final approach has a 90 percent sloping overhang surrounded by glacier towers that can collapse at any time. The new route is considerably more demanding technically to master, but it eliminates The Bottleneck.

The North Face also developed an industrious marketing effort with the independent creative agency Fred & Farid Shanghai to create an AI-generated campaign titled “TNF 1,000 Reasons to Get Back to Trail.” The campaign showed the potential of AI to transform 100 reasons into 10,000 motivations to get back to nature.

This spring the campaign debuted on social media in mainland China, and then it appeared during the TNF100 Ultra Marathon that was held at Mount Mogan or Moganshan, a mountain that is located in Deqing County, which is about 200 kilometers from Shanghai. The ultramarathon winner Shēn jiā sheng covered the 100 kilometer distance in 11 hours, 43 minutes and 26 seconds. The film is still accessible on Weibo and WeChat. The North Face plans to use it soon in a few other activations,, according to a spokeswoman, who did not specify what those will entail.

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