The North Face may have realized something the rest of us haven’t

A major theme in Entertaining Welsey Shaw is about connecting with other people, and how difficult that is, even in a world bursting at the seams with human beings. In an early scene, our protagonist Daniel is noting that he is in a coffee house, which is where people used to go to converse, and he is the only one without a laptop or cell phone in front of him.

It’s no shock that less and less of our interaction these days is face-to-face. TV and movies are the last to pick up on this, as they are with most trends. The Internet has barely been part of most media reality until just a few short years ago, and still doesn’t figure that much into most plots. In scenes depicting cafes, restaurants, etc., everyone is still talking to one another, undistracted. I rarely see this in real life anymore.

It was with this in mind that I realized the other day that The North Face people are geniuses. They put their logos on the back shoulders of their jackets. I can only imagine this is because they realize most people these days will see their apparel from behind, waiting in line or crowding onto the subway, or sitting in the back seat of a carpool. We are with people today like never before, but we don’t really interact with the frequency that we used to, building little air cocoons around us with our ear buds and eReaders and ironically-named social-networking web pages. You tend to see more of those around you from the back than from the front these days. You may be able to filter your social experience via Twitter, but to do things in the real world you still have to stand in line. And now you’ll know the dude in front of you paid $200 for his hoodie.

It’s a sad situation, really, but going about my business lately I’ve noticed this is largely the state of social affairs. In the last three days I have had one real conversation with a person—in a coffee house, appropriately. I’ve stood in numerous lines and noted numerous North Face logos I would not have seen had they been only on the garment front. Until now I thought Apple was the most clever, with a logo that lights up on their laptops.

Of course, you could argue the jeans people have understood what the North Face people know for years.


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