One Step, Then Another A climbers’ guide to building a business Patagonia started out as a bunch of climbers who loved being outside; we wanted to make high-quality clothes that let us stay out a little longer, even in difficult conditions. As a climber, you take one step, see if it will hold, then take another step. You’re constantly evaluating your current position, while thoughtfully examining your next move. This turned out to be good preparation for running a business. Especially as we gradually learned the full environmental and social consequences involved in the materials and labor that go into our clothes. We quickly discovered that even with the best intentions, our clothing line was contributing
to natural resource extraction, environmental degradation and social inequity. So, we took some steps into unknown terrain, looked into our supply chain and started asking questions. In 1993, in order to lighten our dependence on oil, we introduced recycled content to our polyester fleece and underwear. In 1996, after we learned how conventionally grown, chemically dependent cotton poisons the soil, we switched to only using organic cotton in our sportswear line. And in 2013, in order to move further away from petroleum-based materials, we produced wetsuits free of environmentally harmful neoprene.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIRST STEPS It was 45 years ago—with the aim of stopping the damage pitons create in a vertical landscape—that Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost introduced the “clean climbing” ethos in a catalog. Our company mission to “cause no unnecessary harm” is now more important than ever. Many of the milestones we’ve reached as a company have become pillars of how we make products and conduct business today. We’ve listed some of the big ones (in blue) along this timeline, and in the pages that follow, you’ll fi nd some of the thoughts behind—and results of—the decisions we’ve made.
1993 RECYCLED POLYESTER
BLUESIGN® APPROVED FABRICS THE FOOTPRINT CHRONICLES®
2003 TENCEL® LYOCELL 1990
APPAREL FACTORY AUDITS
LIFE CYCLE FIBER ANALYSIS
CLEAN CLIMBING ETHOS 2001
COMMON THREADS RECYCLING PROGRAM
FAIR LABOR ASSOCIATION® MEMBER
1996 100% ORGANIC COTTON
Trade principles—we launched a successful pilot of 10 Fair Trade styles in the fall of that year. This year marks a giant step forward as we grow our Fair Trade numbers to 480 styles and 14 factories. The effort has been worthwhile because now 15,700 factory workers are directly benefiting from every Fair Trade purchase, and the factories we work with can scale their Fair Trade production when other brands sign on. Looking back, are we proud of the steps we took to improve the way we make our clothing? Yes. Are we satisfied? No. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, and can be done, by taking one step, then another.
We took a similar “first-steps” approach when we looked at the factories that made our clothes. We started developing our social responsibility program in the mid-1990s, working side by side with factory partners. In 2001, we became a founding member of the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit that works to improve working conditions worldwide. With over a decade of close focus on our cutand-sew factories, in 2011, we moved one link back in the supply chain to audit labor practices in the mills that make our fabrics. After joining Fair Trade USA’s apparel program in 2014—an effort that required us to change our internal procedures and work across many departments to embed the Fair
YULEX® NATURAL RUBBER
CLEAN COLOR COLLECTION
2009 CO-FOUNDED SUSTAINABLE APPAREL COALITION
2015 PATAGONIA DENIM
2016 100% RECYCLED DOWN
2014 FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED™ SEWING RECYCLED COTTON UNDYED CASHMERE
2010 RECYCLED WOOL Heading toward Fitz Roy, Patagonia. Barbara Rowell
Next: Weather window with a view. Anne Gilbert Chase heading into the Torre Valley between storms. Patagonia, Argentina. Jason Thompson
Partnering with the People Who Make Our Clothing How Fair Trade makes an impact
Helena Barbour Vice President, Global Sportswear, Patagonia
How did workers use the Fair Trade premiums?
Helena Barbour is one of the driving forces behind
One of the most empowering aspects of the
our partnership with Fair Trade USA and the ongoing
FTUSA program is that a brand pays a premium
initiative to steadily increase the number of Fair Trade
to a worker’s fund, and through a democratic
products at Patagonia. We spoke with her to get some
process, workers decide how to spend the
insight into the early steps she took to usher in this
money. By making workers central figures in
financial decision-making, it creates a true sense of partnership.
Why did you want to create a Fair Trade apparel line?
In early 2014, I visited several factories in Sri Lanka with our production team. It reminded me that although we purchase clothes based on fabric and fit in the store, the people who make our clothes are a huge part of the equation and are often forgotten. Most people—including myself—know very little about the people who make our clothing.
everything happened quite quickly, and it was a matter of months before we had a program in place. We were able to launch 10 styles in June 2014. What happened next?
ety of ways, from water filters in every worker’s home to a cash bonus at the end of the year. But what was surprising was that it wasn’t always an obvious benefit that served the majority. For example, in Sri Lanka, the workers voted on a day care center, which serves the mothers and fathers who work in the factory. While not every worker will benefit from this directly, as a whole, the workforce felt it was worthwhile to have a program that helped parents maintain their jobs, which, in the end, benefits everyone at the factory.
We weren’t sure what to expect, but early on we
The way the premiums are used takes on the character of the people participating in the program.
I came back wanting to do something, and
realized the benefits extended way beyond just
af ter a colleague mentioned Fair Trade USA
paying premiums directly to workers. It opened
(FTUSA) was in the early stages of partnering with
up constructive dialogue between workers and
What would you say to someone who doesn’t know
apparel companies, I was hopeful that this could
management, and engaged workers directly
anything about Fair Trade?
be a tangible solution to empowering workers. FTUSA provided the link between what I saw
Because we were able to work with FTUSA,
For me, that was when the program really came alive. We have seen the premiums used in a vari-
in making collective decisions about how to use premiums.
in the factories and how we could make further
Sometimes the factory owners would ask, “Why
improvements. And in terms of the opportunity
don’t you just pay us more, and we’ll pay workers
to scale, I knew that we could use the sportswear
more?” But having a third party like FTUSA mon-
product line to amplify the really good work our
itoring the program was important. We can’t just
social responsibility team was already doing in
say to our customers, “We’re doing the right thing,”
and expect them to blindly trust us.
The people who make our clothing deserve to be seen and recognized. Fair Trade is one way to achieve that goal. It’s so much more than just paying premiums to workers. It positively affects workers’ lives, but also affects factories, brands and customers who get to make informed choices. It’s about a journey together to change the way we think about our clothing and the people behind it.
Change Beyond Charity Creating a more equitable global economy Since launching Fair Trade USA in 1998 (in a oneroom converted warehouse in Oakland, California), Paul Rice has helped build a vibrant global movement to change the way goods are produced, traded and consumed. We spoke with him about his early steps with Fair Trade USA and his goals for the future. Why is there a need for Fair Trade products?
First, we need to take a step back and look at the
How did you get started in Fair Trade?
Paul Rice President and CEO, Fair Trade USA
Can you explain how Fair Trade works?
I got started fresh out of college. I wanted to be
For every Fair Trade Certified™ product sold, the
involved in international development, so in 1983,
company pays an additional premium that goes
I bought a one-way ticket to Nicaragua to work
directly into a worker-managed account. The work-
with farmers. I worked on several well-intentioned
ers decide how to spend every dollar, based on
projects funded by international aid that aimed to
what their greatest needs are. It could be scholar-
alleviate poverty. All of them failed. I developed
ships, community projects or medical care. They
a belief that they failed because we didn’t figure
can also vote to take the premium as a cash bonus.
out how to develop the farmers’ own capacity to
bigger picture. Globalization is already happen-
solve their own problems. The farmers didn’t want
When did you start offering Fair Trade certification
ing. The lowering of trade barriers over the last
our charity. They just wanted a decent return for
in the apparel industry?
20 or 30 years has led to a dramatic increase of
all their hard work.
trade, and with that, economic growth. Unfortunately, the benefits of globalization are not trickling down to the world’s poorest people. Literally billions of people are being left behind. How does Fair Trade help with that?
What was your “light bulb” moment?
We spent several years developing a certification model specific to the apparel industry, and then officially launched in 2010. Even though the
I was pretty disillusioned with charity work and
factory program is different from our roots in agri-
was about to bail and head back to the U.S. Then
culture, the basic premise remains the same: If you
around 1990, I heard about these crazy people in
buy a Fair Trade product, you can reach halfway
Europe called “Fair Traders.” They were offering
across the world and help a family create a better life for themselves and their community.
In addition to creating rigorous social, envi-
a dramatically higher price if we could just get
ronmental and economic standards to improve
our coffee farmers organized and sell directly
working conditions and protect the environment,
to them. It was such a simple, powerful concept
we’re using a market-based approach that
based on trade, not aid, and a fair price for a
uses the power of companies and consumers
great product. I got 24 brave souls to sign up.
to create sustainable solutions to some really
We went from getting 10 cents to $1.26 for a
pound of coffee.
Where do you think all of this is heading?
I see a new model of globalization that’s emerging and growing very rapidly. Fair Trade proves that you can eliminate the conflict between profitability and sustainability. If we can combine this idea of doing the right thing and supporting company profitability, then we’ve hitched ourselves to the
Photos left to right: Tim Davis, Keri Oberly, Paul Rice Collection
most powerful force around.
Fair Trade Better Sweater ® We’ve increased our offering of Fair Trade Certified™ fleece products It’s no coincidence that we chose to make some of our best-selling products in Fair Trade Certified™ factories. We deliberately picked them because every Fair Trade product we sell sends more money back to apparel workers through premium payments. From fall 2014 through June 2017, apparel workers who made Patagonia clothing earned an additional $1,000,000 in premiums that can be allocated as cash, used for a collective social investment or both. Our much-loved Better Sweater ® 1/4-Zip is an easy-wearing, moisturewicking pullover that provides bulk-free comfort and warmth. Built from 10-oz 100% polyester knitted fleece dyed with a low-impact process, it has a stand-up collar with zipper garage for next-to-skin softness, raglan sleeves for mobility and back seams that create a classic silhouette. Imported.
Key details • 10-oz 100% polyester knitted fleece dyed with a low-impact process that reduces the use of CO2 by 19%, energy by 32% and water by 15%, compared to conventional dyeing methods • Zippered chest pocket (Men’s); left-arm zippered pocket (Women’s and Kids’) • Micropolyester wicking jersey trim at the cuffs and hem
Men’s Better Sweater® 1/4-Zip $99.00 I 25522 I XS-3XL I Regular fit
Women’s Better Sweater® 1/4-Zip $99.00 I 25617 I XXS-XL I Slim fit
Girls’ Better Sweater® 1/4-Zip $79.00 I 65695 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Boys’ Better Sweater ® 1/4-Zip available online
Fair Trade Fleece Since 2014, our participation in Fair Trade has grown rapidly. We began by offering 10 Fair Trade clothing styles made in a single factory. In spring 2017, we offered over 287 styles made in 12 factories—including the world’s first full line of Fair Trade Certified™ board shorts and bikinis. To date, we offer 480 Fair Trade styles made in 14 different factories.
Men’s Retro Pile Jacket $139.00 I 22800 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit Lightweight Synchilla® Snap-T® Pullover $119.00 I 25580 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit Lightweight Better Sweater® Marsupial Pullover $119.00 I 26000 I XS-3XL I Regular fit 10
We now offer 94 fleece products that are sewn in Fair Trade Certified™ factories. From the baby-blanket-softness of our Diamond Capra Jacket to our thick and wooly Retro Pile Vest, there’s more than one way to stay warm while supporting the factory workers who make our clothing. See them all at patagonia.com/fairtradeclothing. Imported.
Women’s Retro Pile Vest $119.00 I 22825 I XXS-XL I Slim fit Diamond Capra Jacket $169.00 I 25100 I XS-XL I Regular fit Lightweight Synchilla® Snap-T® Pullover $119.00 I 25455 I XXS-XL I Regular fit
Next: Shoulder stand with a twist on the rocks. Squamish, British Columbia. Ken Etzel
Fair Trade Womenâ€™s Yoga and Running Maybe you spend your Sunday mornings sweating through Sun Salutations.
Maybe you spend them ticking off miles on your weekly long run even before
Market Tote $29.00 I 59280
Ahnya Pants $79.00 I 21970 I XS-XL I Regular fit
last nightâ€™s frost has thawed from the trails. Or maybe you manage to squeeze in both. Whatever your motivation, our moisture-wicking fabrics were meant to be
Fleur Tank $49.00 I 54932 I XS-XL I Regular fit
layered and un-layered to accommodate all the temperature ranges that come with the ways you like to move. Imported.
Lightweight Better Sweater® Marsupial Pullover $119.00 I 26010 I XS-XL I Regular fit
Latticeback Tank $59.00 I 54770 I XS-XL I Slim fit
Centered Crops - 20 ½" $69.00 I 21915 I XS-XL I Formfit ting
Centered Bra $49.00 I 32065 I XS-XL I Formfit ting
R1® Pullover $129.00 I 40118 I XXS-XL I Slim fit
Capilene® Lightweight T-Shirt $39.00 I 45656 I XXS-XL I Slim fit
10 Borderless Tights $99.00 I 24000 I XS-XL I Formfit ting
Fair Trade Men’s Lifestyle If you’ve ever paid the price for skipping out on chores in October—
won’t happen again. Enjoy the crisp air that gets your butt in gear
Synchilla® Alpine Hat $35.00 I 22260 I S/M, L /XL
like running out of firewood in February—it’s a pretty sure bet that 2
P-6 Label Midweight Crew Sweatshirt $59.00 I 39486 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
and layer up for the inevitable first frost. Imported. 3
Performance Twill Jeans $99.00 I 56490 I 28-40/even + 31, 33, 35 I Slim fit
Wild Rapid Band Cotton/Poly T-Shirt
$29.00 I 39105 I XS-XXL I Slim fit
Retro Pile Vest
$35.00 I 38861 I XS-XXL I Slim fit
$119.00 I 22820 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit
Flannel Lined Performance Straight Fit Jeans $129.00 I 56515 I 28-40/even + 31, 33, 35 I Slim fit
Flying Fish Recycled Poly Pocket Responsibili-Tee® Synchilla® Snap-T® Pullover $139.00 I 25450 I XXS-XXL I Relaxed fit
Straight Fit Cords $89.00 I 55930 I 28-40/even + 31, 33, 35 I Slim fit
Next: Getting in shape. Hunter Dahlberg at his blacksmith shop, Orion Forge, in Bend, Oregon. Ben Moon
Patagonia® Denim Patagonia® Denim uses only 100% organic cotton grown without
Advanced Denim Technology in 2015 resulted in much
shorter production lines that use 84% less water, 30% less energy and emit 25% less CO2 compared to conventional denim dyeing processes.
Men’s Performance Regular Fit Jeans $119.00 I 56200 28-40/even + 31, 33, 35 I Regular fit short and long inseams available online
GMO seeds, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Our switch
Women’s Performance Jeans $119.00 I 55505 24-32/even + 25, 27, 29, 31 I Regular fit short inseam available online
When you’re on an extended road trip, you need jeans that do more than just look good—like have enough stretch to be able to land on a crashpad without splitting. These jeans feature a DWR (durable water repellent) finish and possess the classic 5-pocket styling that originated in 19th-century jeans. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. Imported. 20
Sit. Stay. Cross. Bob Metzler and Pard make their way over the Merced River. El Portal, California. Greg Epperson
Organic Cotton Flannels In 1996, after creating a new supply chain, we began the exclusive use of organically grown cotton in all of our cotton products. Our decision was not without considerable financial risk, but we decided never to go back to conventional cotton, regardless of the outcome.
Menâ€™s Long-Sleeved Lightweight Fjord Flannel Shirt $79.00 I 54020 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit Insulated Fjord Flannel Jacket $169.00 I 27640 I XS-XXL I Regular fit Long-Sleeved Fjord Flannel Shirt $89.00 I 53947 I XS-XXL I Relaxed fit 22
At our Ventura, California, headquarters, jeans, a T-shirt and a flannel are our version of a men’s three-piece suit. Cotton shirts are an important staple for women, too—especially the ones trying to warm up after a lunchtime surf session. Size up if you need more changing room. Imported.
Women’s Aspen Forest Tunic $89.00 I 53235 I XS-XL I Regular fit Long-Sleeved Fjord Flannel Shirt $89.00 I 53915 I 0-14/even I Regular fit
Recycled Cotton Sweaters Since 2014, thanks to a partnership with the TAL Group—one of the larger garment manufacturers in the world—we have been able to use cotton scraps swept up from factory floors, saving tons of usable cotton in the process. Unbleached and undyed, these scraps are then spun into fully functional fabrics.
We’re paying homage to knit patterns used for centuries by fisherman, and others who work long hours in cold conditions, with these classically patterned sweaters. Rib-knit details. Made from 48% recycled cotton/47% recycled polyester/5% other fibers. Imported.
Men’s Off Country Crewneck Sweater
Women’s Off Country Cardigan
Women’s Off Country Turtleneck
$99.00 I 50590 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
$129.00 I 50575 I XS-XL I Regular fit
$99.00 I 50570 I XS-XL I Regular fit
Menâ€™s Off Country Pullover Sweater $119.00 I 50595 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Next: Toasting tasty pastries. San Juan River, Utah. Andrew Burr
Recycled Polyester Synchilla® Fleece We’ve been transforming trash into fleece for 24 years. Today, we recycle used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn-out garments (including our own) into polyester fibers to produce clothing like these fleece products. By doing so, we use less water and energy compared to nonrecycled polyester.
Our first pile jacket was cleverly crafted out of toilet seat cover fabric in 1976, at a time when insulating layers were made from scratchy wool or sweat-inducing polypropylene. It would be 10 years before we switched to Synchilla® fleece, and now we make a wide array of pile and fleece garments. The fleece products on this page are all made from 100% recycled polyester and are Fair Trade
Mikhail Martin trying to find Evilution’s solution. Bishop, California. Ken Etzel
Women’s Classic Synchilla® Jacket
Men’s Classic Synchilla® Marsupial Pullover
Men’s Classic Synchilla® Vest
$99.00 I 22995 I XS-XL I Regular fit
$89.00 I 23000 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
$79.00 I 23010 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Recycled Polyester Jackets Thanks to the westerly winds that skate off Chicago’s Lake Michigan, the odds of being bone cold are the same as the odds of being buried up to your antenna by a surly snowplow driver if you park your car in a seasonal tow zone. Bundle up in insulated armor designed for city use and built to buffer against wind and snow. Our Lightweight Crankset Jacket and Transitional Jacket have 100% recycled polyester shells; the Radalie Jacket has 92% recycled polyester insulation. Imported.
Mills Halpin and Vinny range over their own personal snow globe. Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jeff Diener
Women’s Transitional Jacket
Women’s Radalie Jacket
Men’s Lightweight Crankset Jacket
$199.00 I 28060 I XS-XL I Regular fit
$159.00 I 27690 I XS-XL I Slim fit
$159.00 I 27810 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit
Toasty protection in shoulder season weather
Just right for moderate, possibly wet conditions
Water-resistant and lightly insulated for everyday protection
all styles imported
Traceable Down Sweaters and Vests We introduced Traceable Down in 2013, and by 2015, all of our nonrecycled down products contained only Traceable Down. Traceable Down means we trace the source of our down from parent farm to apparel factory to help ensure that the birds that supply it are not force-fed or live-plucked. We’ve been sharing our work with down suppliers and other brands that also use down, and we’ll continue to collaborate to improve animal welfare industrywide.
Key details • Made from a lightweight, windproof, 100% recycled polyester shell • Insulated with 800-fill-power (Boys’ 600-fill) Traceable Down (down traced from parent farm to apparel factory to help ensure the birds that supply it are not force-fed or live-plucked).
Men’s Down Sweater $229.00 I 84674 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Women’s Down Sweater $229.00 I 84683 I XXS-XL I Regular fit
Boys’ Down Sweater Vest $99.00 I 68222 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Girls’ Down Sweater Vest available online
Previous: Anne Gilbert Chase laying down an old school (bus) workout. Kelly, Wyoming. Jason Thompson
Down is the archetypal hero of insulation. It compresses small enough to fit into a fruit-sized stuffsack, springs back to life when it needs to shield you from cold and stays fluffy for decades. Our Down Sweaters and Down Sweater Vests offer the perfect level of warmth for a wide variety of endeavors. Imported.
Traceable Down Outerwear Our version of staying warm doesn’t require staying inside. Choose one of our down-insulated jackets and take the warmth with you whether you’re winter commuting on a bike or running errands in subzero temps. Imported.
Men’s Tres 3-in-1 Parka
Women’s Down With It Jacket
Men’s Windsweep Down Hoody
$549.00 I 28387 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
$229.00 I 28040 I XS-XL I Slim fit
$349.00 I 84890 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Waterproof/breathable shell with zip-out down-insulated jacket
Hip-length insulation with removable hood and slimming princess seams
All-in-one waterproof/breathable, insulated shell for urban trekking
Womenâ€™s Tres 3-in-1 Parka $549.00 I 28407 I XS-XL I Slim fit
Versatile season-stretcher with removable down-insulated jacket 37
100% Recycled Down Jackets and Vests In 2016, we started using down diverted from the trash so we could reduce discards that might otherwise end up in landfills. It took some time before we found the perfect partners who were able to meet our high-quality standards, but the legwork really paid off. And our demand for high-quality Recycled Down has already led to an increase in supply. As other apparel companies follow our lead, we expect their demand will boost down recycling in even more countries.
Womenâ€™s Bivy Hooded Vest $179.00 I 27746 I XS-XL I Regular fit
Core warmth with the freedom to wrestle with the snow shovel Previous: Kurt Stolzenburg has the chops for a Sierra winter. Bishop, California. Greg Epperson
Bivy Jacket $249.00 I 27741 I XS-XL I Regular fit
Practical, rugged everyday warmth
Styled a bit longer to keep hips covered and warm
$279.00 I 28025 I XS-XL I Slim fit
Whether you’re living in Bozeman or Boston, these downinsulated jackets and vests will sof ten the blow of your migratory commute when it’s bone cold for days on end. Imported.
Men’s Reversible Bivy Down Vest
Ukiah Down Hybrid Jacket
$189.00 I 27587 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit
$199.00 I 27835 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit
$399.00 I 27900 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Warmth that turns inside out to hide the grime on beer runs
Mountain-weather protection in an understated style
Recycled down insulation in a stormlevel jacket that seals out brutal weather
100% Recycled Down Jackson Glacier Refined warmth If you think you’ve had your share of epics, try waiting 30 minutes for a bus during a Madison, Wisconsin, blizzard. The Jackson Glacier Jacket and Parka draw from our experience in the mountains, yet both are refined enough for everyday city life. We chose a supersoft, quiet fabric, then insulated it with 600-fill-power 100% Recycled Down. Riffing off the Grade VII Down Parka, we utilized bonded channel construction throughout the entire jacket to keep the down in place—something we’d never tried before, but got right after numerous takes. Getting the bonding right was crucial because we wanted to create strength and durability while keeping the jacket soft and compressible. By creating no-sew channels, which we then filled with down, we were able to eliminate water-entry points (in the needle holes), plus shifting insulation and cold spots—the bane of any sewn down jacket. Imported.
Key details •
Innovative bonded channel construction throughout keeps down in place
• Insulated with 600-fill-power 100% Recycled Down (duck and goose down reclaimed from down products) • Waterproof polyurethane-coated 2-way center-front zipper • Two high-volume handwarmer pockets lined with ultrasoft brushed jersey • Phone-compatible internal zippered pocket • Oxidized trim finish with matte waterproof coating
Women’s Jackson Glacier Parka $399.00 I 27915 I XS-XL I Regular fit
Men’s Jackson Glacier Jacket $349.00 I 27920 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
see parka on back cover
From Shirt to Dirt Thoughts on the Patagonia design philosophy Miles Johnson, our senior creative director, oversees the work of all our designers
Nor can we change course as quickly as other companies; we have to be
in both technical and lifestyle categories, as well as the work of product develop-
ment and textile, graphics and color teams. We caught up with Miles recently at the picnic tables outside our child care center to ask him about his work and the role of environmentalism in the creative process at Patagonia. Can you tell us how Patagonia’s environmentalism inspires you as a designer— and, in the opposite case, how our concern for our footprint might inhibit the creative process?
It’s essential that the materials be right. It’s wonderful to be positively involved in a thorough way with the development and improvement of materials to make sure they’re made in the least harmful way. But it is also restrictive to be so thoroughly involved with your fabrics. As a result, we work with a much smaller range of materials than most companies do. So if we have a problem, a shortage, a quality problem with the weaving or knitting or the dye, we can’t just snatch or grab a substitute that might be lying around the factory and make an on-the-spot change.
Miles Johnson Senior Creative Director, Product Design and Development, Patagonia
Quality testing is a huge part of our work. Sometimes it takes a full year longer than we would like to introduce a new fabric because it has to be right in the first place. We want to instill confidence in the customer. Does this level of attention result in innovation and improved performance?
New fabrics have to pass a hard look through the lens of sustainability, and that can lead to gains in performance. But we have some heritage styles that perform very well and require no innovation, yet still use virgin polyester or nylon. That remains a challenge, to improve the environmental per formance of these styles without sacrificing their other qualities, including durability. We don’t always make the mills happy when we ask for more sustainable fabrics. But they know we’ll stick with a fabric longer than anyone else does, and that they’ll eventually have a good market from new customers because we influence other brands.
Materials aren’t the whole story; design and design details also shape the final product. How does Patagonia’s design philosophy affect the process for you and your team?
Our design philosophy is restric tive, but, as with our environmental
What about the future?
We constantly work on technical innovations to improve performance. In the future, we should be able to make versatile clothing with a wider range of comfort. Imagine a jacket that keeps you comfortable in hot weather
concerns, in a good way—the bias toward simplicity and utility helps keep
and offers sun protection, yet keeps you warm and dry when the weather
us focused on intended use. It also makes Patagonia clothes identifiable; if
changes. Extremely versatile clothing will require fewer resources and offer
you were to take the label off, you can still see it’s ours. Other brands may
more to the user.
adopt a clean look to their design, but subtle details still differentiate us: the placement of the chest seam out of the way of shoulder straps, whether on an alpine parka or fishing shirt; the way we block color, or use different fabric for the chest pocket. Can you speak a bit about how you work with your team?
When our designers work on a new style, I often ask to see two options: One
But some great improvements might not be high tech. When you think about traditionally producing clothes, they would be on the planet longer than we are, longer than our grandchildren will be. Eventually, clothes made of natural fibers should be compostable: At the end of a shirt’s natural life, you stick your shirt in the ground and it makes your carrots more orange. The challenge is that every element of that shirt, from thread to button to interlining, will have to be compostable as well, not just the base fabric.
that raises the bar—surprises, invigorates, inspires; a second version has only to be straightforward, to perfectly fulfill its intended purpose. Next, we’ll ask the question, does it have to be one or the other? Are there elements of both
Read the full-length “From Shirt to Dirt” interview at patagonia.com/blog.
that will create an original, exceptional product that’s best in class? Some of our best ideas now come from our archives, which holds many of the styles Patagonia has produced over the years. The collection offers us an amazing menu of ideas, perhaps not brilliantly executed the first time around, but still solid, something that can be made new and extraordinarily modern and forward-looking. That’s the virtue of concentrating for so long not on fashion, but on timeless design and function.
Photos by Tim Davis 45
Recycled Wool Outerwear
We introduced recycled wool in 2010. Recycled
There’s a reason why prospectors heading up to the Yukon Territory during
wool uses less virgin materials and reduces the land-
the Gold Rush wore wool: It was durable, reliably warm, and it sheltered
use requirements for sheep grazing compared to
them from endless days of frozen fog. We took a look at this heritage
nonrecycled wool. And it encourages new recycling
material and employed synthetic insulation where it was needed to come
opportunities for wool products that are no longer
up with a modern interpretation of wool outerwear. Parka outer fabric: 60%
usable. We’ll continue to look for innovative materials
recycled wool, 36% recycled polyester, 4% other fiber; vest outer fabric: 60%
like this so we can lessen our impact in the apparel
recycled wool, 33% polyester, 4% other fiber, 3% spandex. See the entire
industry and on our finite natural resources.
collection online at patagonia.com/recycledwoolouterwear. Imported.
Women’s Recycled Wool Parka
Men’s Recycled Wool Vest
$399.00 I 26965 I XS-XL I Regular fit
$199.00 I 26970 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
Creating treasures out of trash at Figli di Michelangelo Calamai, a factory that’s been collecting secondhand wool garments since 1878. Prato, Italy. Jeff Johnson
Prsrt. Std. U.S. Postage PAID Patagonia, Inc.
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Cover: A hole ‘nother level. Exploring the Big Skylight Cave lava tube at El Malpais National Monument. Grants, New Mexico. Kennan Harvey
Men’s Jackson Glacier Parka
$399.00 I 27915 I XS-XL I Regular fit
$449.00 I 27910 I XS-XXL I Regular fit
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Women’s Jackson Glacier Parka
Inspired by the mountains, refined for the city (see pages 42-43)
on orders over
Jackson Glacier Parkas
*not valid in Patagonia® retail stores or with the Patagonia Pro Program
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