DATA

PATAGONIA HAS BEEN JUST APPROVED™ JUST SYMBOL - BLACK FOR DENIM & ATHLETIC WEAR

THE PROS:

Patagonia’s mission statement is ‘Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’ The brand reports that this goal is a work in progress that will never be finished.

Patagonia grew its offering of Fair Trade Certified™ products from 33 in spring 2015 to 192 in fall. They’re sewn by workers at Pratibha Syntex in India, four newly certified factories in Sri Lanka and one in Los Angeles, California.

Patagonia has worked with bluesign technologies since 2000 to evaluate and reduce resource consumption in the brand’s materials supply chain, and to manage the chemicals, dyes and finishes used in the process.

THE CONS:

It is unclear if the brand can trace its entire supply chain.

In August 2015, PETA released a video taken at Patagonia’s wool supplier, Ovis 21, in Argentina. The video showed cruel practices being carried out on sheep at ranches within the Ovis 21 network. Patagonia took responsibility for the practices shown and ended its relationship with Ovis 21. The brand stated that, other than verifying that no mulesing occurred, Patagonia had not audited the supplier’s animal-welfare practices and were unaware of the issues raised in the video.

We don’t have any information on if the brand uses renewable energy at any stage of its supply chain, if the brand has measured its greenhouse gas emissions for its supply chain, and the scope of its greenhouse gas emission measurements.

/ Patagonia’s mission statement is ‘Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’ The brand reports that this goal is a work in progress that will never be finished.

/ In 2011, Patagonia became a certified B Corp. In 2012, the brand incorporated as a Benefit Corporation which legally binds Patagonia to work to achieve the environmental and social commitments set out in its corporate charter.

/ Patagonia states that its Responsible Purchasing Practices Program guides the brand in making business decisions that minimize negative impacts on workers in the supply chain. These include refraining from disruptive acts, such as placing an order, then later, changing it dramatically; negotiating for unreasonably low prices; demanding short lead times; making late fabric deliveries and last-minute design changes. We don’t have any information on Patagonia’s lead times.

/ Patagonia states the following: “One of the most responsible things we can do as a company is to make high-quality stuff that lasts for years and can be repaired, so you don’t have to buy more of it.

/ We don’t have any information on how many people the brand employs in its supply chain, annual revenue and the number of garments made annually.

/ Patagonia shares a full list of the names, addresses and descriptions of its finished goods suppliers and some of the names, addresses and descriptions of its second tier and raw material providers through its Footprint Chronicles.

/ Patagonia requires its suppliers to complete a sourcing questionnaire and map their own supply chains. For every one of the brand’s fabrics or trims, Patagonia requires a profile sheet, a supply chain tracking sheet and all relevant third-party certificates.

/ Patagonia states that it is beginning to map supply chains to the farm level and, whenever possible, relies on certifications such as NSF Traceable Down Standard, GOTS, Organic Content Standard, and Fair Trade to assure the farms it uses are meeting the brand’s standards.

/ Patagonia’s e-commerce shopping site lists the social and environmental attributes of its products, including the names and location of factories where they were made.

/ Patagonia publishes its contract factory list of 70 suppliers for review by NGOs, customers and other stakeholders.

/ Patagonia grew its offering of Fair Trade Certified products from 33 in spring 2015 to 192 in fall. They’re sewn by workers at Pratibha Syntex in India, four newly certified factories in Sri Lanka and one in Los Angeles, California. In June 2016, Sourcing Journal reported that Patagonia said it expects to have some 300 Fair Trade styles, made in 13 different factories, in its offering by Fall 2017. As of May 2016, more than 7,000 workers have earned an additional $430,000 through Patagonia’s participating in the Fair Trade program.

/ Patagonia’s social/environmental team are working with factories in Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia and Mexico, hoping soon to enrol them in the Fair Trade program to help more workers earn closer to a living wage.

/ Patagonia’s Code of Conduct applies to every level of the brand’s supply chain from farm to garment factory, including all subcontractors and sub-suppliers.

/ Patagonia is trying to address living-wage issues as a member of the Fair Labor Association. Currently, the FLA is collecting wage data worldwide and will publish charts that plot poverty lines, minimum wages and living wages against factory compensation. Patagonia reports that it will use these charts to gauge the gap between what its pays and what is considered a living wage. By December 2017 Patagonia states that it will have established wage benchmarks with the FLA and will have plans in place to begin raising wages in its finished-goods supply chain.

/ Audits of Patagonia’s raw-materials suppliers in 2012 revealed that labor brokers charged migrant workers from Asian countries up to $7,000 to get a job in Taiwanese fabric mills that supply Patagonia. For full details of how the brand remediated the issue refer to its website. The brand’s efforts included:

  • Working with Verité, Patagonia developed a comprehensive migrant worker standard for its factories that covered every aspect of employment, including pre-hiring interactions, labor contracts, wages and fees, retention of passports, living and working conditions, grievance procedures and repatriation.
  • In December 2014, Patagonia hosted a forum for its Taiwanese suppliers to explain the new standard that requires them to stop charging fees to foreign workers hired on or after June 1, 2015. They can either pay the fees themselves or hire workers directly without the use of labor brokers. Patagonia mandated that they repay currently employed workers, who were hired before June 1, all fees that exceeded the legal amount.
  • In 2015, Patagonia applied its new migrant worker standard to its entire tier 1 supply chain (but have not found the same issues as the brand encountered in Taiwan). The standard is publicly available to any company that would like to adopt it.

/ In the fall of 1994, Patagonia made the decision to make its cotton sportswear 100% organic by 1996. Every Patagonia garment made of cotton in 1996 was organic, and has been ever since. To achieve this Patagonia had to go direct to the few farmers who had gone back to organic methods. Then the brand had to go to the ginners and spinners and persuade them to clean their equipment after running what would be for them very low quantities. Patagonia had to talk to the certifiers so that all the fiber could be traced back to the bale.

/ Patagonia’s material development team research, develop and approve materials and suppliers by evaluating performance in four key areas: quality, traceability, environmental health and safety, and social responsibility.

/ Patagonia began making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles in 1993–the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to upcycle trash to fleece. Patagonia recycles used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn-out garments into polyester fibers to produce clothing. Since 1993, Patagonia reports that it has eliminated the need for over 20,000 barrels of oil and has kept millions of plastic bottles from the waste stream.

/ In June 2016, Sourcing Journal reported that Patagonia has commissioned a study that found that washing clothing made from synthetic fibres contributed to microfiber pollution. The study revealed that when washed, aged jackets shed higher fiber amounts (1.8 times more) than new jackets. The study also showed that if jackets are washed in a top-load machine, they shed 5.3 times more than those washed in front-load machines. As a brand that also contributes to this environmental problem, Patagonia said it’s taking initiatives to change Earth’s current situation. With the Patagonia Plastics Project, the company will assess its own clothing ecological impacts and also help other apparel industry members and consumers increase sustainability and decrease microfiber pollution.

/ Patagonia developed the Chemical and Environmental Impacts Program for the purpose of managing chemicals and environmental impacts in the brand’s global supply chain. The program covers all areas of environmental management systems, chemicals management, waste management, water use and emissions, energy use, greenhouse gasses and other air emissions. It requires compliance with local laws for manufacturing site operations, as well as compliance with the strictest international consumer products legislation. Patagonia reports that it also assists the brand to recognize suppliers who apply best practices as environmentally responsible supply chain partners.

/ Patagonia’s Worn Wear program aims to reduce the footprint of Patagonia products and encourage consumers to change their relationship with stuff. The brand states that Worn Wear promotes investing in quality, repairing things when they break, passing along clothing to others when it’s no longer being used, recycling worn out goods and celebrating the clothing that travels with us through life. Through this program, Patagonia fixes its customers’ gear at its stores and garment repair center, teaches them how to fix broken items themselves and provide opportunities to purchase quality used clothing and gear instead of new. Patagonia employs 45 full time repair technicians at its centre in Reno, the largest repair facility in North America. The centre completes about 40,000 repairs per year.

/ Patagonia takes back its garments that its customers no longer need. Customers can mail the unwanted garments or drop them off at a Patagonia store for repurposing or recycling. Since 2004, Patagonia has recycled or upcycled 164,062 pounds of Patagonia products. Patagonia partners with ReFleece, Enjoy Handplanes, Green Guru Designs, Upcycle It Now and Alabama Chanin to upcycle the brand’s worn-out products into other products. If the item has a little more life left in it, Patagonia will donate it to a nonprofit. If it’s worn beyond use, but has salvageable parts and materials, the brand’s repair department will use them to fix broken clothing. Everything else Patagonia sends to its upcycle partners.

/ Patagonia is trying to address living-wage issues as a member of the Fair Labor Association. Currently, the FLA is collecting wage data worldwide and will publish charts that plot poverty lines, minimum wages and living wages against factory compensation. Patagonia reports that it will use these charts to gauge the gap between what its pays and what is considered a living wage. By December 2017 Patagonia states that it will have established wage benchmarks with the FLA and will have plans in place to begin raising wages in its finished-goods supply chain.

/ Patagonia’s social/environmental team are working with factories in Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia and Mexico, hoping soon to enrol them in the Fair Trade program to help more workers who make Patagonia’s clothing earn closer to a living wage. Patagonia plans to roll out human trafficking awareness training for its suppliers. The training will be given at the time of the brand’s required annual Code of Conduct training (an FLA requirement). All factory employees must attend.

/ In the last five years Patagonia began swapping out non-recycled nylon for a recycled replacement. After years of research, development, and testing, Patagonia discovered some recycled nylon fibers that are suitable for apparel and can pass the brand’s rigorous tests of manufacturability and product quality. Some of the recycled nylon Patagonia uses comes from post-industrial waste fiber, yarn collected from a spinning factory, and waste from the weaving mills that can be processed into reusable nylon fiber. Another recycled nylon fiber the brand is experimenting with is re-created from discarded industrial fishing nets. The brand is still working towards a suitable recycled nylon fabric.

/ During 2015, Patagonia established an internal scorecard to rate the quality of Patagonia products on a scale from 1-10 (1 being the worst, 10 the best). The brand defines and measures quality by a product’s durability, repairability, multifunctionality, non-obsolescence and lack of environmental harm. It is Patagonia’s goal to consistently produce products that average a rating of eight or better.

/ In 2011, Patagonia became a certified B Corp. In 2012, the brand incorporated as a Benefit Corporation which legally binds Patagonia to work to achieve the environmental and social commitments set out in its corporate charter.

/ Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. The brand has awarded over $70 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities. In 2002, founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, created a non-profit corporation to encourage other businesses to do the same. 1% For The Planet is an alliance of businesses that understand the necessity of protecting the natural environment. Members, generally businesses, contribute 1% of net annual sales to grassroots environmental groups.

/ In 1994, Patagonia organized its first Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference. The brand invited experienced activists to help train members of some of the environmental groups Patagonia supports. Patagonia covered all conference expenses – training, lodging and meals – and asked participants to bring their stories, passion and ideas. The brand has since repeated the event every 18 months. To date, more than 1,000 activists have attended.

/ Patagonia states that the goal of its blog, The Cleanest Line, is to further the brand’s mission by encouraging dialogue about the products it builds, the sports Patagonia loves and the environmental issues the brand is concerned about. The brand reports that by spreading the word about specific environmental issues, Patagonia can increase awareness and inspire action as quickly as possible.

In 2013, Patagonia launched $20 Million & Change, an internal investment fund to help like-minded, responsible start-up companies bring about positive benefit to the environment. The brand reports that this investment fund is one of Patagonia’s attempts to use business to help solve the environmental crisis and inspire change in the next generation of business leaders.

/ On September 21, 2014, Patagonia closed its New York stores until 3pm so its employees could participate in the People’s Climate March. Patagonia also invited customers to join employees at its Upper West Side store for a pre-march community gathering.

/ We don’t have any information on how much the CEO made in the last financial year.

/ There are no reported management scandals or issues.

/ In November, 2014, Business Insider quoted CEO Rose Marcario saying, “If you’re making decisions based on meeting your earnings-per-share number and not about the long-term health of your company, its employees, the environment, and the community you’re operating in, then you’re probably making a decision that isn’t good for the long term. People recognize Patagonia as a company that’s going to keep asking deep questions about our supply chain, the impact we’re having in the world, and looking at business through a more holistic lens other than profit.”

/ On 23 September, 2014, The Guardian reported that Patagonia had agreed to pay a $4,000 settlement to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, after rock climbing policies were violated in the making of a catalog photograph. The agreement came after park rangers discovered illegal climbing routes in the red rock park after seeing the photograph in a September 2011 Patagonia catalog.

/ In October 2015, ABC Australia reported that hundreds of customers of outdoor clothing company Patagonia may have had their bank details stolen after hackers breached its Australian website.

/ Patagonia reports that its R&D department is constantly looking to improve and innovate on the materials it uses to ensure the brand is truly making the most durable, long-lasting, best-in-class products.

/ Patagonia has worked with bluesign technologies since 2000 to evaluate and reduce resource consumption in the brand’s materials supply chain, and to manage the chemicals, dyes and finishes used in the process. In 2007, Patagonia became the first brand to join the network of bluesign system partners. The brand committed to the highest level of consumer safety and the continuous improvement of environmental performance in its textile supply chains by applying the bluesign system to help conserve resources and minimize impacts on people and the environment

/ Patagonia is actively researching and developing Durable Water Repellent (DWR) chemistries that will afford high performance and durability with less environmental impact. For the past decade, Patagonia has researched and tested every available fluorocarbon-free alternative. Patagonia states that its temporary solution, which is also being adopted by a number of manufacturers, is not good enough, but it’s the best option the brand has found so far. Patagonia has switched from a C8 fluorocarbon-based treatment to a shorter-chain C6 treatment, also fluorocarbon-based, but with by-products that break down faster in the environment and with less potential toxicity over time to humans, wildlife and fish. In July 2016, the brand reported that the transition out of C8 was complete.

/ In early 2014, Patagonia began working collaboratively with numerous other brands and the Textile Exchange to develop the forthcoming Responsible Wool Standard for treating sheep and lambs that meets “21st century moral standards for the ethical treatment of animals.” The reworked Responsible Wool standard was released in July 2016.

/ On Black Friday in 2011, Patagonia bought an ad in the New York Times highlighting the environmental damage of excessive consumption and asking its customers not to buy clothing they don’t need.

VOICES

GuardianALISON MOODIE | THE GUARDIAN

Outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia was one of the first to carve out a niche sustainability message with its commitment to responsible consumption, which it has pushed in various campaigns over the past decade.” – 10/23/2015

 


NewYorker

J. B. MACKINNON | THE NEW YORKER

“All of this would be jet fuel for the engines of modern cynicism, if not for the fact that Patagonia, a privately owned corporation now in its fifth decade, has a distinguished record of environmental philanthropy and investment. The company has often made risky choices in favor of its ecological and social ethics, including early bets that consumers would pay more for products made with organic cotton or Fair Trade certification, the latter of which is now available on thirty-three of its products.” – 05/21/2015


WSJ

LAUREN SHERMAN | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

And now, the Ventura, Calif.-based outdoor apparel brand is becoming trendy itself, earning the droll nickname “Patagucci” from some of its most committed fans, and inspiring runway looks from both women’s and men’s designers.” – 01/09/2015

 

ROSE MACARIO, CEO | ECOUTERRE – 12/01/15

I tell you this as CEO of a clothing company that, despite a deep commitment to responsible manufacturing, still takes more from the Earth than it returns.”

YVON CHOUINARD, FOUNDER | SURFLINE – 07/21/2015

Every time I am stumped with a business problem, it doesn’t matter what it was, the answer is always  “increase the quality”, always…. whether it’s the quality of the benefits to the employees, or the product itself.”