In 1973, in Ventura, California, Yvon Chouinard created Patagonia. This outdoor company, which is now renowned throughout the world, is a major environmental player offering quality products. Indeed, "We are in business to save our home planet" is the brand's watchword.
Thanks to its functional, high-quality and always repairable products, Patagonia offers one of the best alternatives to reduce its ecological impact. The brand has also been able to produce technical clothing. This collection is durable over the long term and can be recycled to reuse their materials.
Today 69% of the materials used for Patagonia products are eco-designed: from organic cotton to hemp, or fleeces made from recycled plastic bottles.
The company is also B-Corporation certified. It has supported activist organizations and associations by investing more than $100 million to protect the planet.
As for technical products, Patagonia offers surf suits in Yulex. They are the first alternative to neoprene suits in the world.
Since 2016, and after eight years of research, the brand has been able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 70%. This record was achieved thanks to the natural rubber used to exclude propylene, an energy-intensive element.
In addition, natural rubber comes from sources certified FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) by the Rainforest Alliance. These forests are cultivated, reasonably and sustainably and guarantee respect for the surrounding fauna and flora.
From the first years after its creation, Patagonia began to finance and invest in the environmental crisis. Faced with galloping deforestation, acid rain, plastic pollution and the disappearance of living species, urbanization and hinterland pollution, safeguarding a little of this wildlife became one of the brand's points of honour and spearhead.
In 1988 Patagonia conducted its first national environmental campaign for the Yosemite Valley. This date marks the beginning of a process to support the environmental cause. Every year Patagonia positions itself in favour of an activist environmental association. To do this, several tools are being implemented simultaneously, such as the installation of conferences every 18 months (Tools for Field Activists).
Within the company itself, the environmental impact is minimized as much as possible. Printing on recycled paper (since 1985), use and development of a recycled polyester dedicated to the manufacture of Synchilla fleece, ecological dyes
The most important thing is the respect of the brand's workers and employees.
Passionate about climbing since the age of 14, Yvon Chouinard is the founding father of Patagonia.
Originally from Southern California, he finally learned to climb the cliffs of Stony Point, west of the San Fernando Valley. He was also passionate about birds of prey. Yvon crossed the south by freight trains and abseiled down to reach the eagles and falcons.
Passionate about climbing and mountaineering, Yvon Chouinard manufactured his equipment very early on. For practicality's sake, he thought his equipment in a light and practical way. This way of thinking was ideal for traveling and for not cluttering up.
During his crossing of the Yosemite, Yvon Chouinard realized the need to create new peaks. They had to be reusable, removable and adapted to the valley's many movements. Unlike the peaks of the time, which were designed to stay in place.
In 1957, he bought the equipment necessary to forge himself. He builds himself a portable workshop that he ends up installing in the trunk of his car. Free to surf the California coast, he did not deprive himself of carrying his anvil on the beach after a session.
In the years that followed, he forged winters and climbed summers on the walls of the Yosemite, in Wyoming, Canada or in the Alps.
Very quickly, the growing demand for his equipment pushed him to partner with Tom Frost, aeronautical engineer and climber. It was with him that he redesigned and improved almost all the existing material.
Thus, Chouinard Equipement, offering a stronger, simpler, lighter and more functional material, became the first climbing supplier in the United States in the 1970s.
Already concerned about the environment and the damage of the peaks on the rocks, Chouinard and Frost decided to stop the production of climbing peaks.
They then wrote an essay on clean escalation to justify this decision. They began to propose a new cleaner system: aluminium clamps. Which they proposed in their catalogue in the following years.
In the 1960s, brightly coloured clothing was unusual, consisting of plain, dull pants and sweatshirts. The same was true for climbing clothing.
However, in 1970 Yvon Chouinard bought a traditional Scottish rugby jersey, thick and strong, which he wore many times on the Yosemite passes. This top was a real success with the climbers of the time who wondered where they could get it.
From then, Chouinard Equipement understood that outdoor clothing could bring in more than the sale of technical products and much more than the sale of climbing pitons. This represents a turning point in the brand's history. It was at this moment that Yvon Chouinard decided to change the name of his company. He wanted to expand and offer a range of clothing.
He chose Patagonia, which evokes a romantic vision of glaciers cascading down into the fjords of spiky, windblown peaks, gauchos and condors. Patagonia is a distant, interesting point, but it did not really exist on the maps. It is a name that defines the new brand well, probably because it can also be pronounced in all languages.
In search of new materials and innovations, Patagonia is inspired by technologies present in different trades. At a time when mountaineers are dressing in different layers of cotton and wool, the brand is developing a polar fur used by North Atlantic fishermen. This material is ideal for climbing because it keeps the heat without absorbing moisture.
Samples were tested in the mountains under real conditions. The tests were successful. Even when wet, the wool was warm and reduced the layers of clothing usually worn during this type of activity.
In a second step, Patagonia developed a series of tests based on a synthetic, hydrophobic and ultra-lightweight fibre: poly-propylene.
This material used in marine ropes and baby diaper liners had the property of floating.
Only these two materials have some defects. They melted in the dryers of dry cleaners and were difficult to wash and kept the odours.
That is why Patagonia worked closely with Malden to develop a new fabric that was more resistant and adapted to everyday life. This fabric is called Synchilla. Patagonia also worked with Milliken, a company specialising in the manufacture of football jerseys.
It has developed a process to permanently alter the surface of the fibres to make them hydrophilic. This gave rise to the Capilene treated polyester that Patagonia uses for the manufacture of T-shirts and other outdoor clothing.
The properties of these new antiperspirant underwear have allowed Patagonia to differentiate itself. The brand was able to offer a new system of different layers: an anti-perspirant undercoat, a layer for heat and a third to protect against wind and rain.
In a second phase, the brand's clothing also stood out for its design and the militancy of bright colours. From cobalt blue, to silver, or even vermilion red to orange, turquoise blue and light brown, Patagonia garments increased their popularity.
After a few trips, Patagonia decided to set herself the objective of a sportswear range made of 100% organic cotton. This decision was made in 1994. The brand's objective was to transform its synthetic cotton production into organic cotton in 1996.
Research continues and new fabrics are being used to enrich this range of organic fabrics, such as hemp. Patagonia also works with recycled polyester fibres from other sources such as plastic bottles.
Patagonia does everything in its power to think of its recyclable, infinitely transformable clothing.
30 years after its creation, the brand is constantly innovating. The materials have evolved completely, from the Capilene undergarment to the warm Regulator garment, lightweight and quickly dispersing perspiration.
Epvolutions are multiplying and the brand is gaining in notoriety, quality, durability and without ever moving away from its initial path.
The heart of the brand remains in travel, trail running, climbing and surfing. The brand's philosophy remains unchanged and obvious. Enjoying the simple moments of life, in harmony with its environment, nature and for which it is good to work.
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