Competitive sport climbing fans will finally get a chance to see the best of the best compete on the global stage at the Summer Games in Tokyo. After a lengthy delay triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to open on July 23, 2021. As the long wait draws to a close, Steve Lesnard, The North Face CMO and global VP of product creation, has been talking up its 4D-inspired climbing kits designed specifically for sport climbing:
As climbing is introduced on the ultimate global stage this year, the opportunity for athlete recognition is monumental, and we are honored to continue to be a part of the growth of the sport and to celebrate the united spirit that these games will represent after such a trying year.
While The North Face has provided Olympic winter sports uniforms in the past, this is the first time that the company has used technology to customize a fit and design that enhances body movement unique to climbers. Both men and women United States athletes will have the option to wear a sleek, form-fitting tank with equally tight pants or shorts or a looser version tank paired with pants or shorts.
Olympians participated throughout the development and design phases, providing input and feedback on everything from fit and form to functionality preferences that reduce friction while scaling walls and high-sweat area ventilation. One competitor says that climbing in The North Face gear feels like “you aren’t wearing anything at all.” With nothing to slow them down, a climber can focus on the wall without traditional distractions.
Aesthetically speaking, uniforms for the American, Austrian, Japanese, and Korean teams are simple yet representative of The North Face’s traditional visual image. Each uniform reflects the unique heritage of the athlete’s home country, based on a Swiss Grid style. U.S. competitors will wear a kit that features stars and stripes. The South Korean gear options represent national values of harmony and movement, with a bold border that emphasizes the design. Japanese participants have a Japanese flag-inspired design with a visual interpretation of sobriquet: Land of the Rising Sun. Austrian climbers will be easy to identify with an abstract version of the country’s red and white, three-stripe flag.
The world will get its first glimpse of the new designs in July. It remains to be seen if these extraordinary kits will be available to anyone outside the Olympic arena. The company has not mentioned making these kits available to the public, although it has not ruled that option out completely.