Spotlight on The North Face Apparel Designer

Designing a winter wardrobe that seamlessly blends unbelievable warmth with timeless style, Katie Higgins’ creations for The North Face are here to take you from hillside to hearthside.

Katie Higgins
Photo by Grace Fries.

Katie Higgins is a Type II fun kind of girl—the kind of fun that’s challenging as it’s happening but enjoyable in retrospect. Blending her flair for fashion with a passion for outdoor apparel, she designed for Adidas and Reebok before landing her dream job as the women’s snowsports apparel designer at The North Face. That is, of course, after her sabbatical year as a ski bum in Utah and a wave chaser in Maui. Our paths crossed on a backcountry ski trip, where her insights into the technical nuances of gear design and trend forecasting two to three years out left me in awe. We sat down over some après cocktails to talk about how she carved her path in the world of snow sports and her dreams of making waves in the surf world.

“Being outside is who I am as a person.”

“Whenever I wear test our gear, I always destroy it. It’s the best way to test out new ideas and see if something is working”

- Advertisement -

“Fashion is your way of expressing yourself. Bringing that with you everywhere you go, including the outdoors, makes you who you are.”

“Outside of being a designer, I am a landscape and lifestyle photographer. Having a creative outlet that gets me outside all the time keeps me balanced, inspired, and ultimately makes me a better designer.”

“Our design team is super goofy, shooting each other with Nerf guns and building pretend sets of Cloud 9 in the office. We can be intense when we need to be, but the bottom line is that we like to have fun, and I think the product is better because of that.”

“Most of the technical design work is computer-based, but the conceptual work is hands-on with products and sketches.”

“We get samples back from the factory and only have a couple of days to give our notes and feedback, then the factory creates an updated sample to send us.”

“Good design is just about improving the product.”

“Sustainability is a huge component of our design process. The future of sustainability isn’t just recycled products; it’s about keeping apparel out of landfills by creating less at a higher quality.”

“My style icon is my mom when she was my age. She had such great vintage pieces she passed down to me that I still wear today. I also love Kelia Moniz’s street style.”

“If I could do a collab with one brand, it would have to be Ganni for its disruptive and carefree nature.”

“My go-to winter piece is the North Face Nupste. It’s been around longer than I’ve been alive. It’s just the warmest coat.”

“Every girl needs a good pair of sunnies for the winter. I wear Crap Eyewear because they have such funky designs you won’t find with other brands.”

“We’re leaning into a new feminine energy with our resort product for 2024. It’s bold, disruptive, and fun. And then in 2025, you’ll see more genderless styling and unisex silhouettes.”

“This season’s colors center on TNF’s iconic hues: red, gold, and blue.”

“This is my dream job. But I am young and always thinking about what’s next. I’d love to design wetsuits or anything surf-related since that’s my other passion. I think there’s space to disrupt that industry and I love pushing limits.”