All paths lead to Patagonia when it comes to the Holy Grail of ethical and sustainable fashion! Founder, Yvon Chouinard, is the original when it comes to building a fashion empire that puts people and the planet before profits. The beginnings of this pioneering brand date back to 1957 when Chouinard's love of climbing uncovered a need for reusable pitons, spurring him to craft them himself. This quickly grew into a small business run out of a store he built in his parents backyard, which just as quickly outgrew demand and saw the beginning of a business partnership. By 1970 Chouinard Equipment had became the largest climbing equipment supplier in the US. This was also the year Chouinard captured the attention of his fellow climbers by wearing a rugby jersey he'd purchased on a trip to Scotland and unintentionally created demand for more colorful and exciting clothes for climbers.
As the clothing portion of the business increased a new name was introduced and Patagonia's varied and vast initiatives to serve the planet and it's people started to take shape. From the beginning fabrications have taken centre stage for Patagonia, with significant investments made in research and design at the brands fabric lab. This innovation extended to working with an external mill to develop recycled polyester for their trademark fleece, and the company has always been diligent to eliminate any colors from a range that require the use of toxic metals and sulfides. After commissioning an independent environmental survey assessment, which exposed cotton to be the most resource heavy of four fabrics in their range, Patagonia has maintained the use of only organic cotton for the entirety of their cotton range since 1996.
Patagonia's Company Mission:
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Giving back is also high on the list of priorities for this conscious company with an annual commitment to donate 10% of profits or 1% of sales, whichever is higher, to small groups working to save or restore habitat. But perhaps the most bold and talked about sustainability move came when Chouinard shocked the industry in 2011 with a full page ad posted in the New York Times on Black Friday. It read "Don't Buy This Jacket" and kicked off an ongoing campaign by the brand to tackle consumerism head on with their Worn Wear initiative. Patagonia continues to highlight reusing and repurposing through a trade in scheme that sees used garments mended and resold, educating customers on how to repair Patagonia garments themselves, and a repair truck that pops up at various events to repair Patagonia garments for free. Now that's a recycling scheme I can get behind!
Visit Patagonia to learn more and discover a range of functional clothing with a purpose.