Feature Friday: Patagonia
We enjoy highlighting one of many unique brands in our "Feature Friday" blog posts.
Patagonia is known for being an activist company with a sustainable and environmental mission. In 1953 founder Yvon Chouinard, at that time a 14 year-old member of the Southern California Falconry Club, was taught how to rappel down cliffs onto falcon aeries by one of the adult leaders at the club. Soon, rappelling became a passion for Chouinard, who then began to spend his falls, winters, and springs rappelling out in Stoney Point and Tahquitz Rock near Palm Springs every weekend. At that time, pitons, metal spikes that are wedged into rock while climbing or rappelling, were made out of soft iron, and were only good for one use after being place in the rock. Chouinard saw this as an issue as he had to use hundreds of pitons during multi-day ascends. In 1957 he began to teach himself how to blacksmith and soon he began fashioning hard iron pitons out of an old harvester blade, making them last for several uses.
After creating a splendid new tool for the sport he loved the most, Chouinard partnered with Tom Frost, an old friend who shared his passion for rappelling, to create new and better products. Over the years they improved the equipment, redesigning it to make it stronger, lighter, and simpler for the user. In 1970, they became the largest piton supplier in the U.S. but unknowingly, that same equipment they had created was harming the environment as rappelling became more popular. The gear was damaging the rock on the overused routes that climbers used in areas such as Yosemite Valley, and El Dorado Canyon, making the rock fragile, often having to endure the hammering and removal of pitons. After learning of the damages the pitons were causing, Chouinard and Frost took a risk and decided to move out of the piton business.
This was the first environmental step that Patagonia took towards sustainability, a decision that has marked the company since the day it was made, and set the tone for what was yet to come. Today they donate at least 1% of the their revenue to environmental focused groups that work to protect the world. Patagonia uses recycled polyester, nylon, and wool in many of its clothes and only utilizes organic cotton. They have began to import high-quality Hemp from China to be used in its clothing. Hemp is a natural fiber that has a low impact on the environment requiring no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers when cultivated. Garments are made 100% out of Hemp or can be blended with other fibers such as polyester, cotton, or spandex to maximize performance.
Today Patagonia focuses on Men's and Women's apparel. Their products range from t-shirts, jackets, backpacks, shorts, dresses and much more. Whether it is snowboarding or swimming gear, or new, technology-enhanced apparel for your inner runner, Patagonia has what you need. Check out some of our favorite picks below and we hope you have enjoyed learning about Patagonia as much as we have!