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Patagonia Outdoor clothing

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PATAGONIA OUTDOOR: WHAT IS IT?

Patagonia Outdoor has a cult following and it’s easy to understand why. Their logo stands for technical brilliance, and if you’re into climbing, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, fly fishing, or/and trail running then the brand has you covered.

Just ask their field-testing coordinator, Kelly Cordes, who does things like ski uphill in a soggy jacket, sits down in the snow and tracks the time until he gets cold – deep-bone cold, not just chilly. He figures if the gear works in worst-case scenarios, it should work for everything else. We figure that he’s probably a bit mad, but incredibly committed to the cause.

Talking frankly, Patagonia items are more functional than fashionable, the balance you quickly realise you wish you’d struck if you’ve ever done outdoor sports and made the mistake of choosing the latter over the former. But the technical jackets are still pretty cool, we’d just call it a particular aesthetic.

OK, so they’re not the cheapest bits of kit on the market, but these are investment pieces that are built to last – and Patagonia offers a repair service to make sure their clothes go the distance.

PATAGONIA OUTDOOR: HOW SUSTAINABLE IS IT?

It’s no coincidence that lovers of the great outdoors tend to be most in tune with environmental issues, and Patagonia has always stood for protecting nature.

They recently changed their mission statement from ‘build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis’ to ‘Patagonia is in business to save our home planet’.

It may sound sci-fi, but founder Yvon Chouinard was adamant there’s no Plan B and there’s no Planet B; he said “I don’t want to live on Mars”. Since starting 1% for the Planet in 2002, an initiative where companies pledge to give at least one per cent of sales – not just profits, an important distinction – they’ve given away $110 million. In 2018, they gave the $10 million tax savings Trump’s administration so generously bestowed upon large corporations in the US to environmental groups to help them build a “war chest”.

This year they are giving close to $20 million to fund climate activist groups worldwide and set up Patagonia Action Works to connect environmental groups with skilled volunteers for projects and campaigns, worldwide. They’re now a certified B-Corp, which involves companies committing to legally consider the impact of their decisions on their workers and the environment as well as their shareholders.

They truly value their staff, with countless anecdotal stories of them putting their staff wellbeing above profits. At their HQ they have a creche to help parents transition back into work.

PATAGONIA OUTDOOR: WHERE CAN I BUY IT?

Patagonia has stores in several major cities, but if that doesn’t work to you head over their website. The brand also lends its sizeable weight to different causes, creating films to highlight issues around the world – recently these have included saving the last wild rivers of the Balkans, and lifting the lid on fish farming and holds film showings throughout the year.

Read our interview with Patagonia’s vice president of environmental activism, Lisa Pike Sheehy, and director of environmental initiatives in Europe, Mihela Hladin Wolfe

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