Bleak Future for Clothing Brand Patagonia as Consumers told 'Don't Buy Our Product'

Report by planetFear
Friday 2nd December 2011

Long standing clothing brand and leader in outdoors apparel environmental awareness Patagonia could be set for a shaky winter as it launches a new ad campaign urging consumers not to buy their products.

In a scheme which aims to question whether you genuinely 'need' or just 'want' a new jacket, consumers are being asked, can you reduce, repair, reuse, recycle or reimagine your existing kit?

In days or economic downturn and minimal growth in world markets are Patagonia leading the way in environmentally conscious consumerism or shooting itself in the foot? 


Patagonia Common Threads Environmental Ad Campaign 


'Just before Christmas, Patagonia launches its Common Threads Initiative focusing on the first

"R": REDUCE. Today, Patagonia is the only apparel brand to tell its consumers not to buy what they don't need. The picture on the following page was published as an advertisement in the New York Times by
Patagonia on November 25th as consumption in the USA is reaching a peak just after Thanksgiving.

In 2006, Patagonia was the very first apparel brand to ask its consumer to RECYCLE with our Capilene® Baselayers, when the Common Threads Program was launched. Extended season after season, Patagonia is now taking back every Patagonia garment put on the market, recycling what can be and keeping what can't be recycled yet. By giving back, consumers pledge to keep all this stuff out of the landfill and incinerator. But this "R" comes at the end. Recycling is what we do when we're out of options to avoid, repair, or reuse the product first.

Patagonia in turn commits, with its REPAIR "R", to make products that last and help repair quickly anything that breaks. Our policy is to get repairs unpacked, done and back in the mail to you within four weeks, including
transport. We pay for repairs that we're responsible for and charge a fair price for repairs due to normal wear and tear.

To help customers put back in circulation used clothes, and set up the REUSE "R", Patagonia and eBay Inc. have joined forces to launch a new marketplace for customers to buy and sell used Patagonia gear. Only available for the US market for now, we are already thinking about a similar partnership for Europe. "eBay and Patagonia have created this unique store to encourage customers to go into their closets, find the Patagonia garments they don't currently need, and list them on eBay to continue their useful life," notes Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's VP of Environmental Initiatives.

The goal is to get more and more pledges and therefore meet our fifth "R", REIMAGINE. Reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace. At this point, 8,500 people already took the pledge. Our goal is to reach 50,000 a year.

We are now using the resources of one and a half planets on our one and only planet. The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing. Consider the R2® Jacket shown, one of our best sellers. To make it
required 135 litres of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three litres a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.

"The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today's environmental problem - the footprint of our stuff," notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's Founder and Owner. "This initiative first asks customers to not buy something if they don't need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time - and to repair what breaks, reuse or resell whatever they don't wear any more. And, finally, recycle whatever's truly worn out. We are the first company to ask customers to take a formal pledge and be partners in the effort to reduce consumption
and keep products out of the landfill or incinerator."' 

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You will not last long with this statement - 08/12/2011
Don't buy our products? Patagonia will not last long if it doesn't start telling people to start buying it's products. If you want to be an enviromentally aware brand then lock the doors of your office and stop trading. That is the only way you will stop having an impact!
What a cynical reaction from planetfear who should know better - 16/12/2011
Patagonia are to be applauded for this most thought noble and provoking of advertisements coming as it did on Black Friday before the busiest shopping weekend of the year in the USA. The planetfear website would've been history a long time ago had it not succeeded in persuading its visitors to keep purchasing the latest fashions to ponce around in. Tim Jackson, the economics commissioner on the UK government's Sustainable Development Commission in a recent public lecture said that we are as a society "being persuaded to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about." I believe that most of the gear being advertised on this site be it clothing or other sports equipment is merely redesigned with each year but rarely provides the purchaser with a noticeably improved item unless of course the used item has truly reach the end of its useful life. For you to pen an article entitled 'Bleak Future for Clothing Brand Patagonia as Consumers told 'Don't Buy Our Product' goes to show how ignorant you are. Even though you sell Patagonia products and write this article about them you do not seem to know that Patagonia is a privately owned company and is not a corporation answerable only to shareholders demanding their share of the profits with each year. There is an environmentalist at the helm by the name of Yvon Chouniard who you may or may not have heard of. He is at pains to make his company impact in as minimal a way as possible on the environment in which most of his customers play. and form which he is indebted for all of the natural resources used in the manufacture of his products Instead of bashing Patagonia for making such a principled and risky stance as they take the high moral ground on all things sustainable planetfear should be taking a leaf out of their book. Future generations will have nothing to thank us for us unless this way of thinking takes hold soon.
seriously...? - 17/12/2011
Anybody who thinks Patagonia is going anywhere is nuts. Their entire company ethos has been built on exactly this kind of message- since their beginning. The difference is now they have a bigger audience. In fact about an hour ago i was admiring the fact that a wind shirt of theirs i've had since 2000 is still as good as new... and it's a jacket I wear almost daily- bike touring, bike commuting, trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, whatever- it's always with me. I'm not nice to it- it takes a daily beating. And you can be sure- in another 12 years when I need to replace it i'm buying another Patty jacket. That kind of quality makes them the least expensive brand on the market. And they have plenty of customers like me that go to them first when we do need something.
Smarter than it looks - 18/12/2011
You might think that this will destroy Patagonia, but that seems unlikely. Long ago they eschewed high volume sale growth, and this is part of Chouinard's overall approach to business - buy one jacket that it is bomb-proof, use it until it can be used no more, then recycle it. If you read "Let My People Go Surfing" by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, none of this campaign would be at all surprising, and only lazy journalists would express surprise. Patagonia will last a good deal longer than many of their competitors, and more strength to them.

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