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Napapijri—or Napa to those in the know—is the Italian outdoor brand with a Finnish name and a Norwegian flag. But you may also know it as the brand with the iconic duffle bag and two legendary anoraks. The Rainforest and the Skidoo are to Napapijri what the 501 is to Levis or the Horsebit loafer is to Gucci: icons in fashion, icons to those in the know, icons to the brands themselves. Items that are meant to be worn on the daily and, to those who do, irreplaceable pieces that must be a constant in their wardrobe. Repaired and reloved until one day either replaced (with the same model) or handed down to the next owner. With Napapijri it's: ‘If you know you know.’

Napapijri is one of those brands that has seemingly been around forever, a colorful dream on the reminiscing mind of any European kid who grew up in the ‘90s. In fact, Napapijri was only established in 1987 when entrepreneur Giuliana Rosset came across a small bag manufacturer producing backpacks for climbers and mountaineers. With a curious eye for materials and an innovative mind, Rosset put them to work, creating bags from waxed canvas cotton, a material used to make military tents. Its hard-wearing and waterproof properties were perfect for creating the ultimate bag to market to adventurous travelers. Mocked up in a gargantuan duffle bag shape that would make Succession's Tom wince, the Bering Bag was born. The bag is still created using the exact same materials and methods today, even using the same mill to create the textiles. The Bering was a success, and it wasn’t only those heading for the mountains buying it. It was the perfect day-to-day travel bag for those in the city too, which led Napapijri to spot another potential gap in the market.

Thirty years before gorpcore and the mainstream adoption of outerwear into street fashion, the brand, before many others that followed, spotted the potential of anoraks worn by early explorers during Polar expeditions as a lifestyle garment that could retain all the performance properties needed to reach the North Pole but be adept at looking good as a fashion garment. Cue the Skidoo. A padded over-the-head anorak ready for the coldest of mountain scales, with drawstrings at the hood and waist to pull in for extra warmth and protection and an abundant kangaroo pocket for all your outdoor storage needs. Where the Bering Bag bore the Napapijri typography and Norwegian Flag logo (picked as an homage to the North Poles' first explorers) as a print on waxed material, the Skidoo placed these logos as patches inspired by those found on arctic expedition parkas. With its bold logo placements, an abundance of color and lifestyle tweaks, this was a functional piece that could be worn on the coldest tundras of the Arctic yet fashion-focused enough to grace the streets of Milan.

Napapijri / Maurizio Annese, Napapijri / Maurizio Annese

On the back of the success of the Skidoo, particularly in Italy as a day-to-day street item, Napapijri's mind was on evolution (something that has stayed paramount to the brand ever since). Not content sitting on the Skidoo and Bering’s success, they set to signaling pain points in the Skidoo to realize Napapijri’s next icon: the Rainforest. The Skidoo’s younger sibling, the Rainforest came from a simple thought, make the Skidoo but not for winter. A waterproof, windproof anorak as perfect for summer hiking as it should be for the office commute. Gorpcore before Gorpcore. Taking cues from popular hiking jackets of the time, the Rainforest was designed to be super lightweight and packable (which it still is to this day). Both the Skidoo and Rainforest anoraks were, and still predominantly are, made from materials derived from military outerwear. But Napapijri is never content and always moving forward. The recently introduced Circular Series is a testament to that. Material innovation has remained one of Napapijri’s key attributes.

They are also renowned for their use of block color. With one eye on outdoor innovations in tech wear and one on the street's trends, the designers and marketeers at Napapijri must have noticed the color-blocked tones of Milan’s famous '80s subculture, the Paninaro. What made the Skidoo and Rainforest jackets stand out over their competitors in the '90s and make them a street favorite was the almost infinite amount of block colorways the jackets were available in. This quickly made the Rainforest, in particular, a terrace favorite for football casuals across Europe as the jacket could be purchased in whatever color matched your casual collectives tone of choice. Once the football casuals pick something up, you are almost guaranteed to see said item's cultural status rise, as it did with the Rainforest.

We recently hit Napapijri’s archive, now situated at their headquarters in Stabio, close to the Swiss Alps. The abundance of Rainforest and Skidoo variations was an inspiring glimpse not just into the brand's past but also a sign of endless potential and possibilities for the future of the brand. A Skidoo slept-in version created for an expedition to the North Pole by explorer and photographer Sebastian Copeland in 2009 could have come straight off the catwalk of a multitude of this year's F/W shows, as did the bright and bold rack of '90s Sherpa fleeces with Napapijri’s almost-trademark jacquard debossed patterns.

Napapijri / Maurizio Annese, Napapijri / Maurizio Annese

Napapijri’s illustrious list of collaborators shows how the brand has always been a couple of steps ahead. Martine Rose worked with them on the Napa line from 2017 until 2021. Looking back, Rose and Napapijri’s collections were well before their time. A 2017 image of Kendrick Lamar donning a full sherpa Skidoo on Billboard's front cover says it all. Link-ups with Patta and Fiorucci also prove that Napapijri is a brand not to be slept on.

Furthermore, the recent appointment of former Bally CWO, Silvia Onofri, as brand president shows Napapijri's intention to continue the brand on an aspirational trajectory. As she explains: “My background in luxury and fashion underpins a vision of Napapijri’s future squarely grounded in elevation. Revisiting and reevaluating its iconic past while marrying innovation, design, and sustainability will dramatically reassign the brand’s contemporary role and cultural relevance.”

The crossover between the outdoors and fashion has yet to reach its apex. Even if it does slow, Napapijri has out-weathered the peaks and troughs of trends before. With Rainforest, Skidoo, an archive of treasures to pull from in its arsenal, and a team of talented designers and textile experts driving the brand’s original vision for innovation and evolution, Napapijri has a bright future ahead.

Discover this yourself at the upcoming edition of Pitti Uomo in Florence (June 13-16), where  Napapijri will present an immersive experience into its journey and icons, giving you a glimpse into what its future might look like.

Learn more at Napapijri.

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