In another chapter in the company’s long history of introducing environmentally sound practices to the industry, Patagonia recently launched their new range of jeans that are produced in a more sustainable way than conventional demin legwear.
Denim, they say, is ‘dirty business’ and a justifiable target on which to focus their attention. Patagonia claim that the production of their new jeans uses 30% less energy, 84% less water and as a result reduces CO2 emissions by 25% against ‘normal’ jean production. They also use organic cotton and fair trade sewing methods along with having zero toxic dyes in the dying process.
There is still a good deal of misunderstanding and cynicism in the UK directed at outdoor brands who have an environmental voice. One person I was chatting with recently implied that they would only adopt environmentally sound practices in their company if there was money to be made from it. I guess if you don’t really care then that may well be your attitude. However, it just struck me that this individual didn’t recognise that doing the right thing on a daily basis could (or should) simply be part of the way that the business is run. No big deal, no marketing, no extra turnover, just everyday method.
Anyway, it seems like demin is a pretty good area for Patagonia to try and improve, seen as we all wear jeans, almost all the time. Patagonia’s new jeans need to be durable though. No doubt we have all had jeans that last years, along with those that have been tired after just a few months. As Patagonia themselves say, the best thing we can do as individuals is to make sure our clothes run the distance. A manufacturer’s commitment to producing durable garments that last as long as possible should also be part of the equation.
On a different note Patagonia also released their ISPO Gold Award winning Merino Air baselayers recently. They look great (without actually looking that great, if you know what I mean) and although I haven’t tried one yet, I’d be willing to bet the fabric works super well for cold weather aerobic use like ski touring and splitboarding.
A few people in the media commented on how early this essentially winter product was being launched (mid July). The thing that caught my attention though was the fact that Merino Air products are ‘exclusive’ to Patagonia. As in, you can’t buy them anywhere other than the Patagonia website or their own stores. Arc’teryx did something similar with the revamped Alpha Comp Hoody a couple of seasons back. I guess it’s a sign of the times and I don’t blame Patagonia for doing it. However, if I were a retailer and Patagonia was an important brand for my business, I’d be pretty concerned with the precedent being set.