A Free-Market Energy Blog

North Face vs. Energy Reality, Business Civility

By Adam Anderson -- December 17, 2020

Editor Note: Adam Anderson, CEO of Innovex Downhole Solutions, wrote the letter below to Steve Rendle, CEO of North Face’s parent, VF Corporation, in response to the latter’s refusal to fulfill a shirt order for the oil and gas company. Mr. Rendle has not responded to date. The title above was chosen by the editors, not the author.

“I think this stance by [North Face to not fulfill our shirt order] is counterproductive virtue signaling…. We should be celebrating the benefits of what oil and gas do to enable the outdoors lifestyle your brands embrace. Without Oil and Gas there would be no market for nor ability to create the products your company sells.”

I am proud to be the CEO of Innovex Downhole Solutions.  We are an industry leader providing tools and technologies to service oil and natural gas producers worldwide. 

Our work enables our customers, employees and communities to thrive. Low-cost, reliable energy is critical to enable humans to flourish.  Oil and natural gas are the two primary resources humanity can use to create low-cost and reliable energy.  The work of my company and our industry more broadly enables humans to have a quality of life and life expectancy that were unfathomable only a century ago. 

The merits of low-cost and reliable energy are too numerous to cite in totality but here are a few key highlights:

  • Lifespans and quality of life have expanded dramatically over the last 150 years, enabled by access to abundant energy.
  • Low-cost and reliable energy enables life-saving technologies.  For example, the new Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70 0C.  This would be impossible without low cost and reliable energy.
  • American industry is dependent on low-cost and reliable energy to thrive and compete internationally. 
  • More than a billion people worldwide live today without access to electricity1.  As a result, these people live shorter, more difficult and dangerous lives than necessary.  The solution to this problem is more low-cost and reliable energy, not less.

Hydrocarbons are the only source of supply for the vast majority of our low-cost and reliable energy needs.  The Oil and Gas industry is essential to enable human flourishing and no low-cost and reliable alternative exists:

  • Oil and natural gas are the only viable sources for low-cost, reliable energy today.
  • Wind, solar and many other alternatives suffer from an intermittency problem that has not yet been solved.
  • Any attempts to move our energy consumption to these unreliable, higher-cost sources of energy will have many negative impacts for humanity as it will dramatically decrease our access to low-cost and reliable energy. 
  • For example, Germany has endeavored to transition their energy grid to alternatives such as wind and solar with disastrous consequences.  Electricity costs in Germany have tripled over the last 20 years and are roughly 2x the US costs (which are themselves elevated due to the partial shift to unreliable, intermittent sources of energy in the US).2
  • Oil and natural gas are used in many other important ways to create materials that go into thousands of critical products, including clothes, smart phones, vehicles and life-saving medical devices.
  • Lastly, the Oil and Gas industry is a bastion of high-quality, high-paying, industrial jobs for our people.  Last year, Innovex employed ~650 people and paid our employees an average salary of >$85,000 per year. More than 230 of our employees earned over $100,000 last year.  The majority of these individuals do not have a college degree and achieve these high levels of income due to their intelligence, dedication and work ethic.  We need more high-quality jobs staffed with individuals like my team members in this country, not fewer.

Frequently people are concerned about the impacts of CO2 released from the burning of hydrocarbons.  I acknowledge that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and modest increases in CO2 level will have modest impacts on global temperatures.  However, I think the climate catastrophists who claim we will endure dramatic negative impacts from these changes are terribly wrong and misunderstand how low cost energy can help us adapt to our ever changing climate:

  • The US Oil and Gas Industry has enabled an ~14% reduction in US CO2 emissions over the last decade, largely as a result of significant growth in Natural Gas production3
  • Climate-related deaths have declined ~90% since the beginning of the 20th century4 as a direct result of our industiral society’s being more robust against floods, draughts, storms, wildfires and extreme temps
  • As there has been a modest increase in CO2, there has been an increase in carbon-dioxide fertilization in plants across the Globe.  According to NASA5 there has been significant greening of the Earth over the last 35 years
  • This greening combined with incredible technological progress enabled by low cost and reliable energy has led to a dramatic decrease in death by famine.  The death rate due to famines has declined by more than 95% over the last century.6

At this point, you may wonder why I am directing this letter to you, the CEO of one of the world’s largest apparel companies.  We recently contacted North Face to inquire about buying jackets with the Innovex logo for all of our employees as Christmas presents.  We viewed North Face as a high-quality brand that our employees would value and cherish for years to come.  Unfortunately, we were informed that North Face would not sell us jackets because we were an oil and gas services company.

The irony in this statement is that your jackets are made from the oil and gas products the hardworking men and women of our industry produce.  I think this stance by your company is counterproductive virtue signaling, and I would appreciate your re-considering this stance.  We should be celebrating the benefits of what oil and gas do to enable the outdoors lifestyle your brands embrace.  Without Oil and Gas there would be no market for nor ability to create the products your company sells.

I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Adam Anderson, CEO, Innovex Downhole Solutions, 4310 N Sam Houston Parkway E Houston, TX 77032


1 – http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators

2 – https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/what-german-households-pay-power#

3 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/183943/us-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-1999/

4 – OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database, www.emdat.be

5 – https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

6 – https://ourworldindata.org/famines

Appendix: Snopes Summary

Outdoor clothing company The North Face allegedly refused to fulfill a corporate clothing order to Houston-based oil and gas company Innovex Downhole Solutions due to concerns over the company’s environmental practices.

The accusation was reported by retail and energy publications, as well as a number of local news affiliates around the U.S. On social media, some users pointed out the irony of the alleged refusal, citing the fact that some products made by The North Face contain materials produced by oil and gas companies.

The North Face did not respond to follow-up questions from Snopes as to whether or not the company denied the request on the basis that Innovex is an “oil and gas services company” as its CEO alleged….

The North Face has a history of strong environmental messaging, including its commitment to making products by improving environmental performance and social responsibility in the supply chain. And while The North Face’s parent company, VF Corporation, made a commitment to reduce some greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, it is true that the company has previously used petroleum-based materials in its products — particularly those that are waterproof — and continued to do so into late 2020.

On one of the company’s Frequently Asked Questions pages, The North Face noted that its DryVent® waterproofing technology utilized a polyurethane coating — a polymer whose principal raw materials come from crude oil and natural gas.

That being said, The North Face has made efforts to reduce its use of oil-derived polyurethane as it moves to waterproof materials made from natural castor oil from beans, which the company said reduces the use of synthetic components by half compared to traditional waterproof materials.


Oil & Gas CEO Pushes Back Against Winter Apparel Maker | IPANM


  1. John Garrett  

    You have got to be kidding me.

    BTW— VF is also the maker of Lee jeans. VF has, historically, been a well-managed company. There aren’t many U.S. based textile concerns that survived the onslaught of cheap offshore-sourced products.

    This is a really dumb (as in colossally stupid) corporate decision.

    One would hope that North Face/VF Corporation will come to their senses.


  2. JavelinaTex  

    This whole thing is really stupid; but this isn’t new.

    Two or three years ago one of the largest independent US refiners got rebuffed by an apparel company (can’t remember which one) for the exact same reasons.

    A funny one, is we were able to get our company’s logo (were in the same industry) on Patagonia a few years back. Personally, while it is sort of a funny “punk” and we’d probably get turned down, I’d just as soon not do business with Patagonia.

    The other interesting thing to me is Snopes focusing in on polyurethane… heck petroleum is in every fiber that North Face is using… The jacket I have from them would melt if I got too close to any sort of fire or heater.


  3. John Garrett  

    See Francis Menton’s (Manhattan Contrarian) blog entry:

    “…But today’s prize for climate reality-denial in the impending Biden era goes to yet another contestant — a guy named Steve Rendle, who is the President of VF Corporation, an apparel company best known for the North Face brand of outdoor wear. It seems that North Face got an order for a few hundred jackets from a Houston-based company called Innovex, which is in the business of oil and gas services. North Face turned down the order, giving as the stated reason that “North Face will not sell [Innovex] jackets because [you] are an oil and gas services company.” Apparently, the association with the evil oil and gas industry was just too much for the environmentally-correct people at North Face to stomach…

    …What does Rendle think his jackets are made of? Valerie Richardson at the Washington Times notes:

    [T]he vast majority of The North Face hoodies, coats, gloves, snow pants and other apparel, as well as tents and backpacks, are made with nylon, polyester and polyurethane — all of which come from petroleum. Fleece jackets are also polyester. . . . With the exception of gasoline stations, there may be no industry in the world more dependent on fossil fuels than outdoor recreation, and yet The North Face is hardly alone. Patagonia for years has supported anti-fracking causes despite its heavy reliance on petroleum products for its apparel…”


Leave a Reply