Years ago our product design team set out to create a garment construction technology that fuses multiple materials to create one cohesive solution for bad weather — and so became FuseForm. FuseForm’s innovative process fuses light and strong fibers instead of using traditional stitching. Minimal seam construction allows for freedom of movement, a less bulky fit, and lightweight durability. With the launch of the FuseForm Dot Matrix Jacket, we connected with The North Face VP of Global Product, Joe Vernachio, to pick his brain on how this process came to life.
Where did the idea for FuseForm originally come from?
Joe Vernachio (JV): We admire good design. We feel the best contemporary designs today involve the integration of many materials. Some of our favorite designs have many integrated components that give the products a uni-body look and feel. The adoration we have for those products led us to seek out a way of doing that in our products.
When did the concept first come to mind?
JV: We first started on this path many years ago when we started to really study what weaving machines were capable of. Seeing machines from many different industries, besides the typical apparel textile manufactures, really got us excited.
What was the biggest challenge in getting this product made and to market?
JV: FuseForm has challenged us at almost every step of the design and production process. We hit road blocks at each turn until we finally realized we had to abandon all normal convention and let the design intent lead the way.
How long did it take to bring this idea to market, from original concept to being sold in stores?
JV: We first used FuseForm in the Freeskiing Olympic uniforms for Sochi. It took us about 20 months to make those garments. We had to hand cut each uniform one by one. At first it was almost inconceivable that we could ever refine the design and process to make them on a large scale. But an additional 18 months of work by our very talented product team has now gotten us to a point were we can make them in higher quantities. So I guess in total it has taken us about two and half years.
What are the overarching design principles of FuseForm and how did the design guide the manufacturing process?
JV:I would say our guiding principle was to make it as highly technical and as integrated as possible. Even though technically the Dot-matrix Jacket is an incredibly complicated product we hope people will view it as simple and elegant design.
Where do you see the applications of this technology headed in the future?
JV: This is as much a design philosophy as it is a technology. We have 3 – 5 years worth of ideas already in the works and there is no end in sight. We just keep pushing toward our own potential and what we see in our imagination. We will always keep striving to push the products and ourselves. The exploration of FuseForm has just begun.