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The North Face prepares to climb into fashion markets for autumn

Outdoor pursuits brand The North Face is to venture beyond its technical credentials by launching two urban fashion collections for autumn 07.

The news follows the opening of its 27th store worldwide, in Leeds this week.

The higher-end 485 Collection will launch in Europe, with UK distribution restricted to three retailers: Snow+Rock and Ellis Brigham in London, and The North Face stores in London, Manchester and Leeds.

Named after the Pantone red colour of The North Face logo, the range is characterised by minimal branding, with a logo at the wrist, a red square on the zip and different internal labelling.

All styles in the 13-piece collection are made from Gore-Tex Proshell fabric and come in shades such as ivory, pale grey and pewter.

The 485 Collection is priced about 60% higher than the brand's mainline skiwear ranges, with prices starting at £180.

The North Face's second push into more fashion-forward styling for autumn will be via a new urbanwear sub-collection.

The menswear and womenswear range is priced at the same level as The North Face's mainline skiwear, with jackets starting at £112.

It features trend-focused gold and silver down-filled coats and trench-styled Prince of Wales check coats. All pieces are constructed to the same technical standards as the extreme sports range and use The North Face's version of Gore-Tex's waterproof and breathable fabric, called HyVent.

The ranges join its existing snowsports sub-brands Free Ride and Elevation.

The North Face has also been trialling a flash collection for spring 07, which will launch officially for spring 08. It claims to the first outdoor brand to offer a flash range.

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