#TheStreetScene: How Patagonia are pushing us to be more sustainable

A look at the brand setting the high standards

“Repair, reuse, recycle this product” is printed on the labels of Patagonia items, straight away showing the intent of the popular brand. This encourages people to not waste the item after it has been used, but instead repair it if it needs to be fixed, reuse it in a way of reforming the materials in to something else, or recycling it properly so it doesn’t go to landfill. These are three very important things that have a massive effect on our environment, and Patagonia are at the forefront of pushing us all to look after the planet more.

Patagonia outdoor equipment in use. Image from Unsplash

Patagonia is a brand that has risen to popularity massively over the past couple of years. The California-based outdoor clothing company was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, an American rock climber and environmentalist, who had a massive interest in creating a business that was to be the main hub for environmental activism. The company started small as he designed a few styles of technical clothing, mainly for people to wear whilst performing outdoor activities such as mountain climbing. Since then over the past 47 years, the brand has become one of the biggest fashion companies, gaining a revenue of over $1 billion per year recently. Competing with other outdoor clothing companies such as Columbia, The North Face and Helly Hansen; Patagonia surely wins the race to being the most sustainable brand out there.

Patagonia exploration. Image from Unsplash

The best way of being a great company is being honest with your customers, and this is what Patagonia does best. They are see-through with what happens within the company, and are truthful with things that are right and things that are wrong within themselves. One example of when they were transparent with their audience for something which they were doing wrong, was the advert for their jacket in 2011 entitled “Don’t Buy This Jacket”. People may wonder why would a brand put out an advert stating to not actually buy their product, but the brand was directly addressing the issues of consumerism. Patagonia were openly saying how the jacket on show was causing more harm to the planet than good, considering how many greenhouse gases were emitted in to the atmosphere and how much water was “wasted” in creating a single jacket. On the other hand, they also said how they’re a business, and that they need to make money, especially as people’s livelihoods rely on their pay check from the hard-work in which they put in to the brand. They said this was part of their mission to “inspire and implement solutions to the environment crisis”, as they wanted customers to “think before they buy”. This advert was made to make people realise that there is a bigger problem in the world at the moment than the latest fashionable jacket or t-shirt, and that is people not looking after the same planet in which we all live on.

The Patagonia fleece. Image from Pinterest

Labour conditions within the fashion industry as a whole are a massive problem, especially due to the sharp rise of fast-fashion. This is where Patagonia lead the way when it comes to their policies surrounding labour and clothes manufacturing, where they received the second highest rating in the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report. Animal welfare is another category in which the brand thrives in, where they do not use any leather or fur on any of their products.

Someone with a Patagonia backpack. Image from Unsplash

Their “Worn Wear” project is one of their most ambitious, where Patagonia puts old and used items back in to fashion by repurposing them or reusing them in some form. Their Worn Wear website also sells second-hand Patagonia clothing, so that items do not go to waste. This is a really great idea from the brand as they look to dip in to the second-hand market, especially as the brand vows to make high-quality products that are made to last for years. By encouraging people to reuse their products or even sell them on if they need to, it extends the garment’s life by 2.2 years on average, reducing its carbon and water waste by 73% (stats from the Worn Wear website). These are really important things in which we should all take in to consideration, even if it may be easier to go to brands such as Primark and H&M for a single-use outfit. Through the Worn Wear project, the brand is reaching out to their audience and begging them to make a change to the world in such a simple, yet effective, manner. At the end of the day, Patagonia are breaking boundaries like no other brand, and they will continue to do so as they carry on growing at an outstanding rate.

Written by Matthew Nicoll for #TheStreetScene