Ethically-conscious outdoor apparel and gear brand Patagonia uses sustainable processes to craft its apparel, accessories and outdoor gear and also donates one per cent of ales to support environmental non-profits.
For years rock climber Yvon Chouinard kept his eco-conscious practices largely to himself until he began retailing hand-forged mountain climbing gear in 1957 through his company, Chouinard Equipment. In 1965 he partnered Tom Frost, and during the nine year partnership, the duo re-designed climbing tools to make them stronger, lighter and more functional.
The company was growing and the partners perceived clothing as a way to help support the hardware business. By 1972, they were retailing rugby shirts from England, polyurethane rain cagoules and bivouac sacks from Scotland, boiled-wool gloves and mittens from Austria and hand-knit reversible beanies from Boulder. Cotton used in their own outdoor apparel was grown without the use of chemicals, in sync with their sustainable vision to save water and reduce CO? emissions by forty five per cent. Patagonia’s first store, opened in 1973 in Santa Clara, Ventura and the brand introduced Synchilla fleece. Older products made with polypropylene and bunting had contributed towards seventy per cent of sales but core customers realised the advantages of Capilene and Synchilla, and sales sky-rocketed.
Since 1985, Patagonia pledged One Per Cent For The Planet to environmental groups and also awarded reportedly $89 million to grassroots environmental groups making a difference in local communities. In 2002 Yvon Chouinard and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, created a non-profit corporation to encourage other businesses to do the same. In February 2005 Patagonia’s sourcing of wool from Australia was criticised by PETA over the practice of mulesing and subsequently Patagonia sourced wool from South America and the cooperative, Ovis 21. However, in August 2015, PETA released video footage showing how sheep were cruelly treated in Ovis 21 farms which led Patagonia to stop sourcing from Ovis 21.
Shortly, a store opened in Portland Oregon- in a 1895-built refurbished warehouse- and moved to another location later. Patagonia has since expanded its product line to include apparel for other sports such as surfing and skiing and also offers athletic equipment, backpacks, sleeping bags and camping food. In 2012 the brand became a Certified B Corporation. It was also the first to be registered as a benefit corporation in the State of California. However, it was also in the news for all the wrong reasons.
UK animal activist group Four Paws claimed Patagonia used live-plucked down feathers of force-fed geese. In an official statement, Patagonia denied using live-plucking down but agreed it used down from the foie-gras industry. Since 2014, however, Patagonia has been using hundred per cent traceable down to ensure birds were not force-fed or live-plucked. In fact, the Fair Trade certification is assurance that money spent on Patagonia products goes to its producers and stays in their community. Patagonia- in alliance with Fair Trade USA- made clothes that provide this benefit since 2014.
In 2015, the firm launched Common Threads Partnership, an online auction-style platform that facilitated direct sales of used Patagonia clothing. The following year Patagonia pledged to contribute 100 per cent of sales from Black Friday to environmental organizations reportedly totalling $10 million. In June 2018 the company announced that it would donate $10 million it received from President Trump's 2017 tax cuts to groups committed to protecting air land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis. In April 2017 Patagonia announced that merchandise in good condition could be returned for new merchandise credits. The used merchandise were cleaned, repaired and sold on its Worn Wear website. In 2019 it launched a program titled ReCrafted that creates and retails apparel made from fabric scraps. As of April 2020 ‘Worn Wear’ reportedly sold 120,000 items.
In September 2020 Patagonia announced that Rose Marcario was stepping down as chief executive officer and would be succeeded by Ryan Gellert. The firm also aims to become carbon neutral by 2025. However the outdoor brand made headlines when the Chouinard family transferred ownership to two new entities. The Patagonia Purpose Trust led by the family remains the company's controlling shareholder but will only own 2 per cent of its total stock. It will guide the philanthropy of the Holdfast Collective- a US charity "dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis" -which now owns 98 per cent of the company. Each year the money made after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the climate crisis.
“We are in business to save our home planet." This is the new mission statement which changed from the previous one: “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Patagonia's vision is deeply rooted in a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. The outdoor apparel and gear brand has a two-pronged vision. Their first prong focuses on offering stylish outdoor apparel and accessories that are not only aesthetically appealing but also made with organic fabrics. By using organic materials, Patagonia ensures that their products have a minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. The brand is dedicated to employing sustainable processes to ensure that their manufacturing methods prioritize resource waste reduction and eco-friendly practices. By combining style and sustainability Patagonia aims to provide customers with high-quality products that align with their values and promote a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
Patagonia's second prong involves a self-imposed Earth tax. This unique approach reflects the brand's unwavering dedication to environmental conservation. By allocating one percent of all sales proceeds to environmental non-profit organizations, Patagonia actively contributes to the betterment of our planet. These non-profits work towards preserving and improving the quality of our air, land, and water resources. Through this Earth tax initiative, Patagonia demonstrates a holistic commitment to protecting the environment beyond their own business operations. By taking responsibility for their ecological footprint and investing in causes that align with their values, Patagonia strives to create a positive and lasting impact on the environment, inspiring other companies and individuals to join the fight for a more sustainable future.
Ryan Gellert (CEO)
Yvon Chouinard (Founder)
Products and Services
Men's and women's jackets, fleece, vests, tops and bottoms in addition to bags and luggage, waders, wet suits and sleeping bags. The outdoor brand also has apparel and accessories for kids.
- Official website Patagonia
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- Twitter account of Patagonia Twitter
- Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company The New York Times
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- Instagram account of Patagonia Instagram
- Patagonia's Circular Economy Strategy BoF
- Patagonia's Black Friday sales hit $10 million CNN Business
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- LinkedIn page of Patagonia LinkedIn
- Patagonia: Billionaire boss gives fashion firm away to fight climate change BBC
- Wikipedia page of Patagonia Wikipedia
- Patagonia joins forces with activists to protect public lands The Guardian
Ryan Gellert (CEO)
Fashion and Textiles
Retail and Consumer Goods