Meet Joey Ones, the NYC Survivalist and World’s Most Loyal North Face Collector
The leader of the Gore Tex Hoarder movement says there’s a war between the hypebeasts and survivalists.
Photograph by Bruno Staub.
Joey Ones hardly goes anywhere without Gage the Gore Tex bear. When we met over lemonades during a lull in New York Fashion Week, Joey brought along Gage—who wears a bear-sized yellow and black The North Face Mountain Jacket—in a ballistic nylon North Face backpack. Joey was also wearing a yellow and black Mountain Jacket, and except for the Only NY long-bill cap on his head, every piece of clothing on his body was made by The North Face.
Joey is the leader of a crew of North Face obsessives called Gore Tex Hoarders. The Hoarders are prolific on Instagram, where they post fit pics that feature North Face jackets, pants, hats, and even shoes made out of the technical waterproof fabric. Joey was coy about just how much North Face he owns (rule #1 of the Gore Tex Hoarders, he said, is never reveal how much Gore you’ve got), but he is easily one of the premier North Face collectors outside of Japan. And in the process of amassing his collection, which began when a girlfriend gave him a North Face book bag in 1993, he’s become a leading evangelist for the brand’s mountaineering gear. The North Face doesn’t pay him to do so, like they do their team of elite athletes—Joey simply loves the brand so much that he considers it a duty to convert people into Faceheads.
One might think that Supreme (and one Kanye West) are doing Joey’s work for him, but he’s far from a hypebeast. As we talked, Joey made it clear that he is an environmentalist, survivalist, and outdoorsman. He buys The North Face’s Gore Tex gear for its technical superiority, and revels in nasty weather, when he can post Instagram videos of deserted Queens streets while he walks around warm and dry. In fact, Joey might be the closest thing to a human embodiment of The North Face’s cross-cultural appeal. Born and raised in NYC, Joey destroys the stereotype that The North Face’s gear belongs exclusively to crunchy climbers, embracing the technical side of the product while reflecting the urban culture that has co-opted it. The North Face has taken notice, and brought Joey on board as a consultant on a project to bring back the 1990 Gore Tex Mountain Jacket (which you can now buy). And for its Mel Ottenberg-styled archival North Face shoot with Constance Jablonski, GARAGE borrowed from Joey’s extensive collection—including Gage. Here, we talk to Joey about the Gore Tex Hoarders, the Lo Life crew, and what exactly is so special about Gore Tex.
GARAGE: What is it about Gore Tex? How did you become a Gore Tex hoarder?
Joey: I grew up across the street from Central Park West, so I was always an outdoors kid, and I used to wear other brands. And to be honest with you, Columbia didn’t have a waterproof membrane, so I would be playing outside and I would get wet. One day I just got fed up and I started searching around to find something that would keep me dry. Long story short, I ended up at Tent & Trails in Tribeca. And it was heaven. It was like a toy store. You look around and it’s wall-to-wall jackets and carabiners and posters and harnesses and rock climbing shoes. The first Gore Tex product I saw was a yellow and black North Face Mountain Light jacket. I remember touching it and it felt so thin. I think it was 1992. And my girlfriend at the time had a bubble jacket, and she would visit me with just a T-shirt on, even when it was [snowing] outside! I’d be like, “You’re not cold?” She’s like, “No, it’s this jacket my mother bought me. It’s The North Face or something.” That’s why I needed Gore Tex—it was just a hunger to be able to play outside. A hunger to be a kid and stay outside.
"This is a lifestyle. In 2002, nobody was getting no buns wearing North Face.... I’ve always worn it. I bleed this shit. It’s not a fashion statement to me. I love this brand."
What was the first North Face product you purchased?
I didn’t purchase it. The mother of my first son gifted me a North Face book bag for my birthday in 1993. But I originally wanted a JanSport bag. And hip-hop was in, the Lo Lifes were boosting. So she didn’t get the bag from the store, she got it from a Lo Life. When she brought me that book bag, first of all it was forest green, and I wanted purple. I always loved colors. So I look at it and I’m like, “Damn, The North Face, it’s this brand again.” And I’ve always been honest. And I look at her and I’m like, “Yo, what the fuck is this?” She was like, “If you don’t want it I’ll get you a JanSport, but they’re sold out. Everybody has them. Why do you want something everybody has?” And that started the sickness.
Maybe three days later, one of the Brooklyn cats at school pulls up to the cafeteria, which was our runway, where you came and showed off, in this fucking tracksuit. It was bad enough he had the white Huaraches, and now he comes with a tracksuit that matches the Huaraches, and a small little purple logo: The North Face. There it is again. Everybody’s giving him props, the girls are giving him hugs. I still have my Columbia jacket on, with my North Face book bag; I’m not matching, I’m all fucked up in the game. I wasn’t color blocking in a good way. The kid was like, “Yo Joey, you know about this shit right here, bro? This is North Face, man. Bitches is loving this, your shorty’s gonna be feeling you if you rocking this right here.” His Lo heads boosted it for him. My gear wasn’t popping, so I told my girl I wanted more North Face stuff. And I would go to Tent & Trails literally every day. I would walk from 90th & Central Park West to Tent & Trails.
When did The North Face gear start getting hot in the streets?
The Lo Lifes started their thing in 1988. The first time I knew The North Face was a street thing, before I knew what The North Face was, was in 1990. I was on 42nd Street near Port Authority, and I specifically remembering seeing a group of guys, you know they had to be from Brooklyn, in these red and black North Face bubble jackets. It was brick dogs outside, and they were trooping, and I remember looking at them and being like, Wow. So I’m telling you, the Brooklyn cats had it popping by 1990. Even though the preppy kids were already wearing that gear cause they used it for the functionality, these cats seen it on some kids and adapted it to their style.
When did The North Face acknowledge what you were doing? The issue of crediting the culture came up when Polo re-released Snow Beach, and Raekwon said Ralph Lauren never called.
I think it’s because of Instagram. I think that’s what brought everything out. You can @ things to The North Face. They were forced to see. They had to let us in. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve met Jimmy Chin, I’ve met Pete Athans. Don’t get it twisted, I’m a hood dude, but I really love The North Face. I love it for the technical aspect. I love mountain climbing. I’ve travelled the world. But when you meet that side of The North Face, the mountaineering crowd, they don’t really respect our movement. Oh you’re from the city, this is for mountain climbers, or, the Bay came out with this brand, we made it hot. But we live in NYC bro, we’re surrounded by fucking concrete. One minute it’s raining, one minute it’s hot, one minute it’s cold.
When The North Face reached out to me they were interested in bringing back the Mountain Jacket, and my two favorite jackets are the Mountain Jacket and the Mountain Light. Supreme is real big when it comes to TNF, but I’m not a hypebeast. This is a lifestyle. In 2002, nobody was getting no buns wearing North Face. A girl wasn’t checking for you if you were wearing TNF. I’ve always worn it. I bleed this shit. It’s not a fashion statement to me. I love this brand. That’s why The North Face had to reach out to me. Gore Tex Hoarders is a movement now.
How many people are in Gore Tex Hoarders?
I can’t even count. I lost count past 25. In Gore Tex Hoarders America I got dudes in Hawaii, North Carolina, all over. With Instagram you can reach people all over the world. I got guys from the UK hitting me up with questions. And that’s how we started selling vintage gear. Eventually The North Face had to reach out. I guess I turned the business aspect and the lifestyle aspect and the collecting aspect into what it is now.
I saw someone on your Instagram had a Gore Tex tattoo.
Yeah! The North Face actually sends me stuff now, I test gear for them. I’m kind of like a ghetto ambassador.
Are there certain eras of The North Face you prefer?
It’s all about Gore. I love Gore. I do urban adventures, I’m out there in the rain, I love to walk. I’m a tree hugger. I don’t drive anymore. I don’t really like DryVent—nothing against it, but I’ve worn it out in the rain, and I’d rather get the Gore Tex one; it’s $299, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t have no flowers on it, it doesn’t have the extra patch on the arm, it’s just good old fashioned fucking Gore. It does what it’s supposed to do. No frills. My wife tells me all the time, “You’re too honest, shut the fuck up.” But sometimes you want to hear honesty. I think that’s another reason why TNF messes with me, ’cause if I like it they know it has to be good.
So how many North Face pieces do you have in your hoard?
Well everything is TNF, so I can’t even count. Literally. Our cups. My chapstick. My wallet. My beer opener. I have a picture frame that’s freaking Gore Tex, so.
Where did you get a Gore Tex picture frame?
From the [Mountain Light] project that we worked on, TNF gave me the material, the Gore, so I literally made the picture frame out of it. But as far as how many pieces, I can’t put a number on it. It’s everything. It’s my wife, it’s me, it’s all of my sons. I was always extra. I’d rather be prepared. I’m a survivalist. The movie Red Dawn made me who I am. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but the Russians came over and tried to take over America, and these kids, the Wolverines, they were fucking survivalists. And I believe I’m a survivalist. I want to be prepared. If shit hits the fan, god forbid, at least I know I’m good. I’m not going to die because of hypothermia. I’m not going to die because I had to leave from my hiding space because I was cold.
What’s your ultimate TNF grail piece?
My 1990 Ski Patrol jacket. it’s a one-off, the logo’s on the other side, it has a big cross on the back, it’s from 1990, it has the big pockets, it’s made in the USA, it’s red and black and white. I don’t even wear it. And anything yellow and black—Gage, my '92 mountain jacket. I just love yellow and black. That’s TNF’s color, and it’s a popping color.
What’s your reaction to seeing Kanye wearing a Nuptse jacket around? It seemed like a lot of people are re-discovering The North Face because of those photos.
I’m gonna be honest with you, to me that’s all hype. I see Kanye wearing the Nuptse and now it’s popping, but everybody was wearing the Nuptse before. That’s nothing new. That’s why TNF reached out to me and Gore Tex Hoarders to find out about the Nuptse, and we obliged ’cause I want people to know the real story of the Nuptse. It’s not just because Kanye wore it or Supreme is doing it that it’s popping. It’s popping because it’s an iconic jacket that serves a function.
Kanye is not a proper representation of the brand—maybe of the culture, yeah, the hip-hop culture and the youth, that’s good, but let’s incorporate both. Because knowledge is the key. Kids want to know. Why do you think my page is so hot? Because somebody sees Kanye in that, now they want to buy it, they don’t want the new one, they’ll go Google vintage The North Face, my name will pop up, and I’ll tell them this is why it’s popping: it’s iconic, old-school, vintage and strong. Now they want it for that reason. It’s like a war. It’s enthusiasts versus hypebeasts. I’m telling you. I have a couple Gore Tex Hoarders who wear Supreme—don’t get me wrong, Supreme did the Mountain Light jacket, I like the leaves one, it looked nice. I’m not gonna sound like a grumpy old man—shit is hot! I’m not gonna say it’s not hot cause it’s not Gore Tex. I’m not gonna be a hater.
I like the idea of a war between Hypebeasts and enthusiasts. Seems like the Gore Tex survivalists will win.
It’s alway gonna be a war. And we’ll win, 'cause at the end of the day look at Japan. When you look at the whole movement, Japan was first, and they’ve always been doing it. They even have a magazine dedicated to Patagonia and The North Face. Japan goes in. But I really don’t like when I’m called the greatest North Face collector. I don’t consider myself the greatest. I’m just loyal. I’m the most loyal North Face collector. I get a lot of beef and a lot of haters, Oh he didn’t do it all, he didn’t have everything. All I’m saying is when you guys turned your backs and started wearing Iceberg and Phat Farm and all the other brands, Joey was still in his North Face jacket. I’m frugal. I bought a jacket in ’95, gave it to my son, my son gave it back to me in 2016, and I sent it back to The North Face and got my money back. So who’s the dumbass. I mean, come on. It’s not only a good brand, but shit, it doesn’t take rocket science—they back their product, bro.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Samuel Hine is an editorial assistant at GQ Style.