According to activewear brand Patagonia, the best thing people can do for the planet is keep their stuff in use longer and cut down on consumption in the process. Their new Worn Wear store is a space to do just that.
Launched last week, the website is an online marketplace for used Patagonia gear. Now shoppers can return their apparel and backpacks to Patagonia for store credit and the brand will clean them (using an eco-friendly process that forgoes water altogether) and resell them at a discounted rate. This new model is meant to appease budget-conscious shoppers while also ensuring that more outerwear stays in the great outdoors where it belongs, not in a landfill somewhere.
A few years back, the brand kicked off the precursor to their latest sustainable endeavor, the Worn Wear van, which travels the country teaching people how to repair and repurpose their old gear.
"We're seeing a very natural pattern developing where this younger generation is looking at ways to share things—workspaces, cars, you name it," Worn Wear program manager Nellie Cohen told mbg earlier this year. "Maybe part of it is the circumstances of college students graduating with more debt than previous generations. Financially, they're not as able as their parents to buy so much 'stuff.'" The new site also has a section that shares some of the van's insights as well, so people can have the option to prolong their outerwear's life span that way too.
Wear, return, repeat.
This new, unique service that puts utility above profit shouldn't come as a huge surprise to those who have been following Patagonia since the beginning. Founded in the 1950s by mountaineer Yvon Chouinard, the company has always set out to be a force of good for the planet.
Rather than create a business model that plays into rampant consumerism, Chouinard wanted to create gear people could wear again and again and take care of forever. That means not playing into sales tactics like flash sales that are meant to make more money by encouraging people to buy more than they necessarily need. Instead, back in 2011 the brand actually took out an ad in the New York Times on Black Friday that read "Don't Buy This Jacket," and last year all—yes, all—of their proceeds from Black Friday went to grass-roots environmental nonprofits. The "100% for the Planet" raised $10 million in just 24 hours.
"It’s part of our mission to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy," a Patagonia representative wrote, explaining their unorthodox marketing techniques. After all, even the most eco-friendly of outfits takes energy and resources to put together.
Patagonia isn't the only brand doing good for the planet. Check out what other industry leaders like Eileen Fisher and H&M are up to here, and read up on the sustainable fabrics that are reshaping the future of fashion.