Last night we were invited to check our phones at the door for a specially curated evening with The North Face in NYC. To help kick off their Explore Mode campaign, which launches across major cities this week ahead of Earth Day, the brand hosted a select group of editors and influencers in a space designed with disconnecting from technology in mind.
With welcoming remarks by Tim Bantle, the brands Global General Manager of Lifestyle, the evening kicked off with a few words from co-hosts British singer songwriter Ella Mai, activist and curator Gabrielle Richardson and NYC chef Angela Dimayuga (formally of Mission Chinese fame,) who curated a locally sourced tasting menu for the event.
“What we’ve learned, over time, is that people who have experiences outside, who get out and explore and connect to nature, are more interested in protecting the planet and open to new experiences,” said Bantle on expanding our notion of exploration beyond purely the physical to a state of mind.
“Everyone in the world should be way more devoted to [the earth] because it’s where we live and how we go about our lives day-to-day, but unfortunately not enough people are,” said Mai.
To mark the campaign, the brand announced they’ll be partnering with 15 organizations around the world to launch a global Change.org petition in hopes of making Earth Day a national holiday. “We think it’s time we have a holiday that supports and protects and focuses on planet earth,” says Bantle, and we couldn’t agree more. Additionally, the brand will be shutting down 113 stores, their online shop, and their global headquarters in Canada and the US on Earth Day, to provide their employees with a paid holiday and the opportunity to explore and disconnect.
Following the announcement guests at the event were invited to lock up their phones and given a disposable camera and taken on a culinary exploration curated by Dimayuga starting with a snowy mountain sculpture brimming with turmeric fish lettuce cups with herbs served with chicken bone broth with flowers, inspired by a trip to Niseko, Japan. We gravitated over to a campfire area for a smoked sweet potato with miso walnut sauce and grilled steak with crispy garlic, before digging into pretty plates of wild mushroom with egg yolk sauce and bay leaf seasoned steamed rice with braided garlic chive on top served at cruiser-height picnic tables brimming with beautifully arranged fungi grown sustainably year round by urban farmers in Brooklyn.
“Travelling and exploring urban spaces globally is super important to me for inspiration just to make food, so all of these dishes that we’re making tonight are inspired by my own travels,” said Dimayuga, “all the flavours are inspired from so many different places and I feel really fortunate that I’m able to share that with you guys.”
Dimayuga also brought along Brooklyn-based tea purveyor Kettl who was roasting fresh Hojicha on site from Fukuoka Japan in a food truck, plus chocolate and olive gelato from Superiority Burger served with olive oil and cocoa nibs.
There’s no denying it, climate change is the most important issue facing our generation and encouraging each other to switch off and explore their surroundings, urban or not, may very well be a tipping point our society needs. The brand has created a variety of spaces in New York in the days leading up to Earth Day on Monday April 22nd by partnering with artists, musicians, culinary influencers to host unique phone-free experiences encouraging people to disconnect, digitally speaking, and practice the art of presence at each activation whether it be food, music, or art focused.
The brand will activate experiences in London, Manchester, Munich, and Paris this week, but if you’re in the New York area this week you can catch an intimate performance by Ella Mai in a 90’s throwback space created by Brian Procell on Tuesday April 16th. Plus go on a ride with Angela Dimayuga as she shares the many flavours of NYC in which she takes inspiration, and finally a live art exhibition at Skylight Soho curated by Gabrielle Richardson on April 18th.
For more information on The North Face’s ‘Explore Mode’ campaign, click here.