Two days ago I had an amazing opportunity to visit the Patagonia store here in Milano and talk to some of the workers who have been there for more than 10 years. Patagonia is such a unique business that everyone should know about and use as an inspiration, especially if you are a brand or a consumer operating in the fashion industry. As you may already know I am very passionate about sustainability and especially how it can be applied to the fashion industry, the second most polluting industry after oil. In this post I would like to introduce you to Patagonia more deeply than just their mountain t-shirts that you probably know it by (as was the case with me) and I am very excited to learn more about it together with you. I was so amazed at the achievements and values Patagonia has set and the way it is operating when our planet is in such a critical state that I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it and I have no doubt you will be mentioning it more in the future as well. Therefore this post is just a general introduction to Patagonia that I hope will inspire you!
WE’RE IN BUSINESS TO SAVE OUR PLANET.
Literally. Patagonia does business to save our planet which means it does not follow the normal business model and have profit maximising as their top priority, instead they are completely dedicated to using their company and all the power they have within it to help our planet the best they can. Any technology Patagonia develops and uses to reduce negative impacts the fashion industry has on our environment it invites other likeminded companies to use, really showing how what really matters is the people and our planet, not the profits. In fact, whatever sales Patagonia makes it will donate 1% of them for the planet, meaning that even if Patagonia doesn’t make profit, it will still donate 1% of its sales. Patagonia has pledged its loyalty to 1% for the Planet non-profit corporation since 1985 due to their deep understanding of carrying social and environmental responsibilities that they as any other business has.
What started as a company for climbing equipment from a young surfer/climber, Yvon Chouinard still to this day remains a company with a deep respect towards the environment and its people. As any surfer/climber has a unique ability to appreciate minimalism it is important to see it in the company values as well. Patagonia does not support excess consumerism, a huge problem of nowadays especially and not only within the fashion industry, but all over. Walking into a Patagonia store you are asked what it is you really need at the moment. This is such an important question to ask yourself whenever you are buying anything at all. Is this something I really need, or is it something I will buy just because I can and like the outlook of? Consider what you already have at home and what you can do to make your garments last longer. The responsibility of producing a garment does not end after it is bought from a store, but continues in the aftercare in the hands of a consumer. Patagonia is on a mission to change consumerism habits from instead of replacing and tossing a broken item to repairing, repurposing or recycling it instead. With this in mind, Patagonia launched Worn Wear program offering free repair of your already existing Patagonia items. If you are no longer using a Patagonia garment or if it is too broken to fix, you can bring it to the store and it will be recycled and used in the making of new items. Yesterday, on Saturday 22nd, Patagonia Milano offered free repair of any brand item you have and a Swap event where the idea was to bring in an item you no longer use and take another in exchange, this way what you don’t find suited for you can have a longer life in someone else’s home.
From protecting a local surf break in the early 70s to giving 1% of their sales for the planet, Patagonia also has a deep passion for its staff. If you talk with anyone working at Patagonia you will notice how genuinely passionate they are about the work they do and how proud they are of the progress Patagonia is making. Workers are supported financially and even encouraged to do volunteer work through some of the organisations Patagonia works with. This allows the workers to connect with their passion for our environment and help it while not having to worry about loosing their job. Patagonia workers organise different events raising awareness about current issues such as climate change and invite anyone interested and willing to help and make an impact to join. For any climate strike or any demonstration with Fridays For Future or the Extinction Rebellion for example, Patagonia stores are closed allowing workers to take part in these events. In 2016 Patagonia donated 100% of their sales made on Black Friday to grassroots environmental groups.
The Patagonia website (https://www.patagonia.com/home/) is very transparent and informative when it comes to why the brand does so much for our planet and you can find an incredible amount of information on materials used to produce their products and their production line from sourcing the materials all the way to their aftercare done by us, the consumers. Each store in every location does its best to work and connect with the local community and help raise awareness within it creating a socially and environmentally aware and informed community. After having a look at their website I highly recommend just walking into any Patagonia store and having a chat with the employees, it will blow your mind and make you rethink your own actions and values and best of all, inspire you to do better, because lets face it, action needs to be taken.