The internet seldom offers anything that’s unspoiled by post-modern cynicism, headline-grabbing scandal, and of course, Rule 34 (don’t ask). But every once in a while, the cyberspace spits out something that’s delightfully wholesome. Something – or someone – like our favourite TikTok trainspotter Francis Bourgeois, who’s now enjoying a whole new level of fame by taking centre stage for the latest The North Face x Gucci ad.
The 21-year-old engineering student turned content creator was enlisted to help showcase the wildly successful ready-to-wear outdoor collection between two powerhouse brands, taking on the role of a train conductor. Bourgeois can be seen fulfilling all sorts of conductorly duties, from speaking over the tannoy system, checking passenger tickets, goofing off in his office, to playing tour guide as the locomotive approaches scenery.
“One of the most gratifying things is hearing about other trainspotters and their experience in school,” Francis Bourgeois tells Highsnobiety.
“They’ve said that people would bully them for their trainspotting hobby, but now they feel more confident and people respect them for it.”
“That’s a really defining thing for me because I experienced the same thing. It isn’t a cool hobby, so I didn’t make it very public, and I think giving other people the power to feel like they can be confident with it is very special for me.”
“The linearity in the predictability of trains satisfies the side of my brain that likes to know how things are done. Then the spontaneity and unpredictability of the nature of trainspotting itself fulfil the other side of my brain that goes, ‘Oh… what’s going to happen next?'”
In terms of the collection itself, as described by BH’s own editor Nick Kenyon in late December:
In the second chapter of this collaborative volume, the outerwear experts at The North Face and the heroes of hype at Gucci have released a collection that pushes the limits of what either brand has done before. Focusing on what looks to be watercolour painting prints, bold primary colours and a delightfully floral motif on some garments, the collection is varied and eclectic. While the range of patterns and tones is impressive, it’s nowhere near as impressive as the sheer range of garments included in the collection. All counted, the collaboration offers 130 different items within it, from iconic outerwear pieces that are instantly recognisable, to street-vogue slides emblazoned with the Gucci double-G monogrammed logo. The strength of the collaboration can be seen in the consistency of the design throughout the collection, focusing on aesthetic uniformity rather than prioritising a few standout pieces. Blending the retro-inspired middle layers with modern, cutting-edge outerwear styles is another strength within the collection, carefully balancing the two for a coherent aesthetic.
At the time of this writing, Francis Bourgeois has amassed over 2.1 million fans, 37 million likes, and countless more views since debuting on TikTok when the COVID-19 pandemic first kicked off.
Check out Francis Bourgeois in The North Face x Gucci ad above.