A chance encounter with artist and mountain athlete Fernando Elvira inspired The North Face to create a range of footwear and apparel that is as imaginative as it is performance-driven.

The process of improving – of striving to be the best – is built into the DNA of The North Face. It is in every item the product development team creates. It is in the stories the brand tells. It is in the athletes with whom The North Face chooses to work.

So when The North Face announced in early 2021 that it was formulating a trail running shoe range, it was clear that there would be no compromise. Whatever The North Face would produce for the trail running community would have to be the best it could possibly be. The range that was eventually developed, VECTIV™, includes shoes designed to give trail runners the edge – no matter where, or in whatever conditions, they find themselves.

But what happens next? What do you do if you want to improve on something that is already considered the best? This was the challenge for The North Face. The VECTIV™ range was already thrilling athletes around the world. How could it get better? A chance encounter provided an exciting next step. The VECTIV™ range was developed by running shoe experts at the French firm All Triangles in collaboration with The North Face. It was through this connection that The North Face met artist and mountain athlete Fernando Elvira. His creativity took VECTIV™ to the next level.

“I was introduced to The North Face by Julien Traverse and Jean-Marc Djian from All Triangles,” explains Fernando. “I was at the All Triangles headquarters a few years ago painting a mural and I was able to connect with The North Face, who proposed the idea of a collaboration.”

Fernando never approaches brands himself, so it was fortuitous that a connection was made: Fernando’s art aligns well with The North Face’s approach to designing footwear, as well as apparel and equipment.

The attraction on both sides was clearly based on the power and passion of the mountains. Fernando is what might best be described as a mountain athlete and connoisseur, and calls a mountainous region at the southern tip of Spain home. “I live in a mountain village in South Spain called Algatocín,” he says. The village, in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia, is nestled between three magnificent, mountainous areas. To the north-west lies the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema. To the south-west, the Parque Natural los Alcornocales and, to the east, the Parque Nacional Sierre de las Nieves. All three areas are packed with hills and hundreds of kilometres of trails – and Fernando takes full advantage. “Pretty much every day I go up the mountain,” he says.

From his home base in Spain, Fernando has travelled far and wide to challenge himself in the mountains. The first climb that Fernando considered to be a “real” one was up Rysy, a peak in the Tatras mountains of Poland, in 1995. Since then, he has bagged what he considers to be an “exotic collection” of peaks, including Stok Kangri in the Ladakh region of India, Mount Kinabalu, in Borneo, Jebel Toubkal in Morocco and Huayna Potosí in Bolivia, among others.

But with so much mountain experience under his belt, how does being amongst the high peaks continue to feed Fernando’s creativity? Fernando says that he always tries to find mountain challenges whenever he travels… not least because of the way being in the mountains nourishes his art.

“Time spent alone in the mountains always recharges and refreshes me,” he says. “From that state of consciousness, creativity arises naturally as part of play or as a celebration of life.”

Once Elvira and The North Face had met, the idea of the artist designing a range of VECTIV™ footwear and apparel started to come to life. The process involved Fernando working with paint on canvases and with cut-out pieces of paper. This analogue process of creating the art that would end up on The North Face products suited Fernando’s way of thinking. And the end results were definitely worth all the effort.

Fernando created a unique print for the latest trail running collection. Each symbol represents a thought, a moment in time along the trail, inside the mind of an ultra runner: the peaks and valleys, highs and lows, dead ends and new beginnings. The way Fernando’s work has been used is exemplified by the Flight VECTIV™ shoe. This shoe has been designed with long distances in mind. Tested by world-renowned athletes, it incorporates a 3D carbon fibre plate that delivers explosive energy return. To hold the foot in place, the mesh upper and padded tongue ensure optimal comfort and support. And with Fernando Elvira’s design, the shoe looks as outstanding as it performs.

Working on the VECTIV™ range has had a huge impact on Fernando, and the new collection will have an equally powerful impact on runners.“ This project has made me want to be more adventurous and take on bigger challenges,” says Fernando.

“Life is 100% about being courageous.”

The Fernando Elvira x The North Face VECTIV™ range will be available online and in selected stores from 18 August in limited quantities. And The North Face athletes will be wearing the new range of footwear and apparel as they participate in races around the world, so keep your eyes peeled for artistry among the sporting endeavours.

Discover the Elvira collection at www.thenorthface.com


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