Nov 18, 2013 at 9:18 am #1309955
My first memories of Patagonia are of cool catalogs with an environmental message in the early 90's. I then remember hearing the term "Patagucci" and references of the company making overpriced trendy gear for yuppies. Repeatedly hearing and seeing that said on various Internet forums over the years, I unconsciously began believing it myself, overlooking Patagonia's enviro message in the process. Then, in 2004, I stumbled on an online interview with the owner that NBC News did. My preconceived image of Patagonia and what I was reading didn't match up. I thought to myself, "Damn, I like this guy!".
That following year, the owner, Yvon Chouinard, published "Let My People Go Surfing". I didn't read it until 2 years ago, after finding the book in a thrift store. For those who haven't read it, the first sentence is this: "I've been a businessman for almost fifty years. It's as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer." I was blown away with the rest of the book. Not by Yvon's writing but his message and the depth of Patagonia as a company and all they have done over the years….a depth that can't be found on their website and definitely a depth one won't find on Internet forums.
Though I don't know if I'll ever pay retail for Patagonia gear, I can at least appreciate their higher prices now. And while I haven't been able to compare a lot of their gear to that of others simply by not being a big consumer, of the Patagonia gear that I do have, purchased second hand, I can see differences in quality…a difference in details (namely in their R1 tops).
Turns out Yvon's company philosophy carries over into his personal life too, his house being built mostly from reclaimed items…salvaged concrete from a CA earthquake, bridge timbers, etc (house featured in "Building With Vision".) A friend who used to paddle with Yvon confirmed that he is indeed the guy in the book. Genuine.
Given my experiences, and hearing/seeing the negative tones, I can't help but wonder if criticism towards Patagonia is as trendy as it is for the yuppies to wear it. I'm guessing neither truly knows much about the company.
Who has read the book and did it change your thoughts on Patagonia's gear and/or company? Even if you haven't read the book, your thoughts are welcome!Nov 18, 2013 at 10:13 am #2045807
I like the company. I never pay attention to whether it's "hip" or not to wear something, I just wear what I like. Patagonia's stuff is always simple, elegant in function, and colorful/retro in appearance. My Micro-D fleece is one of my favorite new items, and it's ultralight!
Sadly, I tore through my Houdini in a violent bicycle crash two days ago. I'll have to get another…Nov 18, 2013 at 10:58 am #2045829
MEC does more locally in the vancouver area (and canada overall) than patagucci ever will with basically the same environmental and "ethical" standards
with the same or better warranty and at decently lower prices
patagucci makes decent gear … but some of their decisions are really questionable in terms of being "the best" … such as using cheap PL sport in the micropuffs and the less insulating PL synergy in their flagship DAS parka … both of which previously used PL1
in vancouver people who wear MEC items tend to USE them alot … not to say that patagucciers dont, but no one wears MEC to look fashionable in town
;)Nov 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm #2045997
Not sure how to interpret your comment about Canada. How does Patagonia and their involvement in Canada fit in here?
Also, maybe you missed the other two times I asked you in another thread…but I'm curious if you have read the book. Have you?
Thanks.Nov 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm #2046001
Eric, do you work for MEC? How much is shipping to CA? How do I return merchandise? Can I try it on in a store near my house?Nov 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm #2046019
As a general rule, I don't buy Patagonia's products. They give to environmental causes, but they charge more than their competition in order to do it. And I have no say in where they give that money. I'd rather spend less on stuff and give my money to the causes that matter more to me. Thus, I've hardly ever bought anything from them since price and weight (even in clothing) are my first and foremost criteria.Nov 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm #2046034
The book is on my short list, but no, I haven't read it yet.
I think you're right in in the comment that "…criticism towards Patagonia is as trendy as it is for the yuppies to wear it."
I like their gear. A lot. I have no qualms sporting a Patagonia label or paying full price for a piece of gear I know I'll wear out. I am not afraid of being branded a yuppie. People that are worried about that sort of thing are the ones with the issues. (Come to think of it, the majority of Pat. stuff I own has very little branding on it aside from a small tag.)
I have either not found (or I'm not looking for) substitutions for the following products. In my book, they nailed it on these:
**Rock Craft pants are the best fit and feel of any outdoor pants I've owned. So what if their $80. They work, they fit well, and they've lasted me many seasons of use.
**Stretch Wayfarer Board Shorts. Expensive ($79 retail), but I live in them. I wear them just about every morning on the way to the beach, do yardwork in them, swim at the pool in them. I actually sleep in them probably 3 nights/week. Wore them every single day for a month last summer. Again, best fit and feel (stretch fabric) of any surf trunk I've owned so far. And they're plain black without obnoxious logos or patterns.
**Wetsuits and booties. Again, expensive. Twice the price of many other suits out there. But guess what? It's lasted twice as long as any other suit I've had, is as warm, has a top notch fit, and actually uses thinner neoprene. Their secret is in the lining. They're also a handmade wetsuit. Their booties are the warmest I've ever used. You get what you pay for.
The venerable Houdini. My favorite windshirt. And in black, I can just about wear it everyday, anywhere.
Capilene 1, tops and bottoms. Runningwear, sleeping wear, backpacking wear… I've used my current pair of tops and bottoms for at least 4 years.
Baggies. I've been running in them for a few years.
I could probably find cheaper versions or imitations of a few of the same products. But most of the items I've mentioned have been in their line a long time, have proven themselves to me, and there's no reason to change. I know what I'm getting.
And why not purchase from a company that has its actual roots in the outdoors and tries to establish a positive model? We complain about the sad state of affairs in this world and then lash out in cynicism at companies that are at least trying to create a better model. Call it hype or marketing if you want. But they're trying and they have some dedicated, real people on their roster.
The constant search for and flipping of gear is far more distasteful to me than walking into the Patagonia store 3 miles from my house and paying $80 for a really good pair of surf trunks.Nov 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm #2046039
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
I've been buying or coveting Patagonia equipment since it was Chouinard Equipment and GPIW. I still have a 1970s vintage RURP and Repair Kit. Patagonia's equipment is usually well-made, and usually lasts a long time, though I have owned the occasional clunker. I knew Patagonia pioneered corporate support for small environmental groups, and pioneered reducing their environmental footprint, long before I read The Book.
I have also called them "Patagucci" more often than not. I've always bought for my needs and budget – I have never been a slave to the Patagonia brand, with the exception of their Standup Shorts and Baggies.
Reading the book helped me appreciate how hard it can be to run an ethical company, but that running an ethical company can lead to long-term success, but not necessarily huge sales and profits.
I don't buy more stuff from Patagonia since reading the book, partly because I don't need a lot of stuff (another Patagonia theme), partly because their stuff lasts a long time (ditto), and partly because very few of their products are good for lightweight backpacking. I buy a lot more from "cottage manufacturers" these days.
I wish more large companies were run like Patagonia. Low prices are not the only way to judge a product or a company.
— RexNov 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm #2046044
@skomaeLocale: northeastern US
I am totally with you Craig W.
Patagonia can be expensive but many of their items that I have bought have become favorite pieces of mine. At my urging, many of my friends have also picked up a piece of Patagonia here and there — suffice to say each piece of Patagonia gear becomes a treasured item, worn almost nonstop.
One thing that I think is important to note is that Patagonia is a private company not beholden to investors, shareholders, or even a parent company. They answer only to themselves, and to that end can provide a product that does not need to meet an artificial set of goals imposed upon them by some one or another, subject to whims of investors and trends of a market.
In that respect I have often found Patagonia's products appealing, and also satisfying. Their gear is equally at home in urban and daily life, and on the trail, and although not shaving every ounce, are trim and lean enough that there's rarely extraneous widgets to clutter up the end product. Their products never feel made to check bullet points, but rather to fit a real need, something I feel quite a few other companies fail at from time to time. Let's not kid ourselves, except for the luckiest of us, we spend only a handful of days a month out on the rock or the trail, and it is nice to have something that works for both parts of our dual lives.
I also appreciate that Patagonia is always forwards-thinking about how they can run a business ethically as well as environmentally friendly, yet the end result, the product, still leads the pack.
Let My People Go Surfing is a pretty great origin story. Chouinard certainly is a man with a powerful vision and an incredible ability to see it through. The respect with which Chouinard treats people, and the respect that Patagonia shows its customers, its staff, and its manufacturers, is certainly the kind of thing the world could do to have a bit more of.
I don't always elect to buy Patagonia over their competitors when I need something, but I always consider them because I like their environmental responsibility policy, the Ironclad Guarantee, their incredible customer service, and their product design philosophy.Nov 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm #2046049
delNov 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm #2046077
I saw your post about being about the morality and ethics of a company and buying their gear
Im simply saying on canada i can get what i consider similar environmental and ethical comittement
As to patagucci i own several of their pieces … However i didnt buy them becausebof some book
I bought them because
– they work fine
– they were on sale
– and i bought them at MEC where they were the same price as the T1/T2 regular price at the time
As to MEC, if you are in canada its easy as apple pie to go try on their gear in a major city … I didnt realize we were only talking about california here
I support companies that re-invest into our local resources here … Even dead bird ..
so in short what companies do near me is more important than some book written by someone on surfing …
Now this may mot be answer that some may want to hear
And no i dont work for mec … But i buy ALOT of gear there over the years
;)Nov 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm #2046080
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Yeah, well I buy a lot from REI and their environmental record at least matches Patagonia's in terms of $$$ contributed. And then there are the REI reasonable prices which become VERY reasonable when I get my yearly 10% dividend.
So I'll stay with REI and sometimes Cabela's and let others buy Patagonia. There is virtually nothing in the Patagonia line that I cannot get somewhere else for a better price and equal quality. I have Eastern Mountain Sports gear that is 20 years old and still going strong. Same with an old REI GTX parka and Cabela's poly long johns.
I mean, can Patagonia better my REI Kimtah eVent rain suit? Really? Or make a better fleece than my EMS Polartec 300 fleece jacket? Doubtful.
These daya a lot of manufacturers are making clothing from recycled material, Eddie Bauer being one. Kudos to Patagonia for being a pioneer here and for their environmental efforts but not for their inflated prices. Take the green money out of profits, not from higher price margins.Nov 19, 2013 at 3:49 am #2046090
"So I went to a Patagonia store here in Tokyo and was impressed with their clothing and service, especially since they don't resize for Japan".
Not with everything anymore though. Cap base layers are now in 'Asian Sizes'.
A U.S. Medium roughly becomes an Asian XL, so roughly same sizing as the Japanese North Face (though TNF XL is a little smaller I think).Nov 19, 2013 at 4:17 am #2046092
I can't help but be a little cynical about how much of their environmentalism is sincere and how much is marketing. Their "Don't buy this jacket" campaign is a good example.
"Not surprisingly, the corporate plea didn’t work, which is to say it worked perfectly for a burgeoning company in the business of selling $700 parkas." http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-28/patagonias-buy-less-plea-spurs-more-buying
The article is worth reading.Nov 19, 2013 at 6:02 am #2046100
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
One of the things that I enjoy so much about discovering cottage gear makers is that I don't mind spending a little extra to get a product I can feel good about. I am generally disgusted by most corporate practices, and any time I can find a company that cares about it's employees IN PRACTICE, not words (costco anyone?) I purposely shop there instead of its competitors. I will not ever set foot in a walmart, even though if we want to talk about buying based solely on price…
I don't always have choices in the matter, so when I do I try very hard to patronize them if I can. And sometimes I don't know, so I really appreciate learning about companies that behave differently and don't have profits as the ONLY factor in their behavior.
Besides, I've really, really liked every piece of Patagonia clothes I've ever bought. It's great stuff, and lasts forever. I have a set of capilene baselayers that I bought 15 years ago and have been wearing every winter since. It's still going strong….Nov 19, 2013 at 6:38 am #2046108
"I saw your post about being about the morality and ethics of a company and buying their gear"
No, it was more about anti-Patagonia sentiment from people who, in the whole picture, know very little about the company. Given your history of anti-Patagonia sentiment here, I have point blank asked you three times if you have read the book. At this point, there's no need to answer.
"I didnt realize we were only talking about california here…"
I didn't say California…or any other particular place.
"so in short what companies do near me is more important than some book written by someone on surfing …"
A book by "someone on surfing"??? Hehe…dude, you are a shining example of the trendy person I was talking about. Seriously, thanks for chiming in, Eric Chan! :-)Nov 19, 2013 at 6:41 am #2046110
Thanks, Eric Blumensaadt. Just curious. Have you read the book?Nov 19, 2013 at 7:29 am #2046119
anti-patagucci sentiment … i do OWN patagucci things
im simply pointing out that many people including people on this very thread have pointed out that the reasons they buy patagucci are
– "quality" of the gear
– environmental contributions
– "ethical" standards
i can get all the above IMO from MEC
i didnt realize this thread was ONLY for those who read "the book"
honestly what does a consumer "need to know" about the company other than
– how the gear works
– what price they pay
– what their CURRENT environmental and "ethical" standards are … and MANY on BPL here dont know that about many popular brands they buy
– how good their warranty service is
so its anti-patagucci now for pointing out that i can get the same out of another company for a lower price???
but MEC doesnt have a book, or a film (which i started watching and fell asleep through) …
they do have everything else that matters … publicly posted factory inspection reports, 1% towards the planet, many local contributions towards the outdoors, no questions asked warranty, functional gear that last just as long as anything else, a desire to drive DOWN prices, etc …
other than a "book" what else is there???
;)Nov 19, 2013 at 8:24 am #2046135
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"And I have no say in where they give that money. I'd rather spend less on stuff and give my money to the causes that matter more to me. "
Interesting logic. If you have extra money to donate, shouldn't your boss / clients pay you less so THEY can donate money to their causes instead of yours?
I have clients who donate to worthy causes, many wife has many patient who do. We do. I'm inclined to support those local and national business that do likewise.Nov 19, 2013 at 8:43 am #2046142
Thanks for the book suggestion Rusty. I just ordered it for the Kindle which is a few bucks cheaper than Nook for those who are interested.Nov 20, 2013 at 8:22 am #2046468
You're welcome, Ian. If you think about it, please report back in this thread after you finish. Thanks!Nov 20, 2013 at 8:40 am #2046478
@buddyjLocale: Western Oklahoma
Read the book recently and it gave me better insight into how the company works and the importance of letting values drive your organization. For me, working at a smaller start-up company who is desperately trying to define its culture, it was nice to see an example of a company who's been down that road and experienced the benefits and problems along the way. I also really took from it a drive to buy less gear and it sparked a desire to shop for quality used gear instead of always buying new.
Having read the book, it's also clear that the company both wrestles with and ignores certain aspects of doing business in a global economy. They don't seem bothered that they ship products all over the world for manufacturing using planes and ships that consume gobs of oil, but they'll give employees time off to go fight against hydroelectric dams and bail them out of jail if the person is arrested for civil disobedience. It's a loaded word, but the only thing that comes to mind is "hypocrisy."
I'll probably never buy Patagonia gear at retail, but I'll happily pick it up off the gear deals here. The used Nano vest I got earlier this year from there has been wonderful, and knowing that it can be repaired by the company makes me that much more likely to use it for its intended purpose.Nov 20, 2013 at 9:07 am #2046490
"It's a loaded word, but the only thing that comes to mind is "hypocrisy.""
We're all the same in that hypocrisy is in all of us. We're all different in that the levels are different. I like the following quote by Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Thanks for you post, Peter. Thanks also to all the others who have posted. IMHO, these subjects are important to talk about.Nov 20, 2013 at 9:11 am #2046493
"It's a loaded word, but the only thing that comes to mind is "hypocrisy.""
Perhaps a different word comes to my mind that's a little less loaded: compromise. We all do it, and in today's world it's hard to get away from. I guess it comes down to what you're willing to compromise on, and how much.Nov 20, 2013 at 9:41 am #2046503
@buddyjLocale: Western Oklahoma
Compromise is a good word, and certainly less inflammatory. I still get the impression that Chouinard is doing more than just compromising when his personal philosophies are diametrically opposed to some of his business's practices. It's obviously a tough place to be in, hence why he and others write so many editorials and essays to be included in their catalogs and website. Which, now that I think about is, is why in the book he references his so-called "atonement for his sins" despite not being a religious man.
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