While the phrase ‘cultural hub’ is often reserved for press-releases promoting hip, new office spaces, it is a pretty apt way to describe this city. Whoever you are and whatever your tribe looks like, you can find your space here if you know where to look.
This notion of finding your community and exploring the city was the central theme of The North Face store reopening last week in the Bullring.
With a mantra of Never Stop Exploring, The North Face was created back in 1966 by two hiking enthusiasts with the aim of providing modern-day explorers with the tools they need to push the boundaries of exploration. Known by some people for their high-performance clothing and equipment, and others for their stylish waterproof coats, today they sit nicely in between the streetwear and performance apparel spheres.
Their newly refurbished Birmingham store is the first of its kind in Europe and is designed to extend this commitment to adventure beyond a pithy slogan. At the launch event, they brought together local artists and creatives to share stories of exploration, community and discovery.
Speaking alongside Brand Communications Director; Amanda Calder-McLaren was Anna Akhtar, co-founder of Girl Dreamer and TedX Speaker, and Zeddie Lawai, co-curator of TEDxYouth@Brum and creator of HEADSPVCE.
Commenting on Birmingham’s changing landscape, they discussed the great independent business culture in the city. Whether you’re into obscure music, fancy coffee or street food, Birmingham will have something for you, and if it doesn’t… there’s no place better to create it.
Both speakers have created communities designed to empower and inspire through exploration. They discussed how the true nature of modern exploration lies in pushing boundaries, in order to bring people together and create safe spaces for those that may feel lost. Something the Birmingham community does beautifully.
Another key theme of this event was to highlight the importance of conserving and protecting our outdoor playground. As consumers are slowly starting to realise the implications of the fast fashion industry, it’s refreshing to see a brand that invests in its sustainability efforts beyond a one-off ‘conscious’ range. In this vein, the new store has a Clothes the Loop donation box for customers to recycle their old clothes in return for a discount on their next North Face purchase.
The new Birmingham store has been designed equally as a basecamp for exploration as it has a retail space. With this new store, North Face isn’t just selling clothes, it’s also selling the idea and possibility of exploration. It’s up to you whether you do something about it.
Before the Venn diagram of ‘Birmingham’ and ‘adventure’ may have met in the middle with ‘ticket from Grand Central to anywhere else’, the purpose of this event was to remind us that our sense of adventure can be satisfied right here on our doorstep.
We have got more miles of canals than Venice after all don’t you know?
If I had to rate the store then yep. It’s a nice store. It has fancy coats and nice bags and reclaimed wood and everything. 10/10.
Realistically, if you’re already aware of North Face and the kind of clothes they sell, then walking into the refurbished Bullring shop may be pleasant and make you excited for your next trip away. But more impressively, if you’re a casual customer that happens to wander in because of a nice mannequin display, then chances are you’ll leave with a heightened sense of wanderlust and a desire to find adventure, even in Birmingham.