Patagonia’s Drive Toward Sustainability by Ciarra Wentzel, March 20 2017, 29 Comments
Worn Wear Wagon from erinfeinblatt.wordpress.com.
Can you remember your first day of school, going on your first date, or getting a big promotion at work? Can you remember what you were wearing? I bet your old, beat-up jacket, worn-out jeans, or favorite T-shirt were there with you for these milestones. It is amazing how a piece of fabric can become a sentimental belonging that reminds us of our favorite memories. We, as consumers, become so emotionally attached to certain pieces of clothing that we wear them over and over again causing them to tear and wear out. But no matter how many holes they have, or how torn the ends are, most of us tend to hold onto our favorites, in hope that our memories will also be preserved. However, there always comes the moment when your old companion is too tarnished and faces one of two fates: being disposed in a landfill and harming our earth, or being fixed and reborn into a new garment. And one particular company has captured that process flawlessly.
On Black Friday 2011, Patagonia originally launched a campaign that promotes the concept of bringing old clothes back to life. The company’s motto “Don’t buy this jacket,” was printed all over a full page in The New York Times. The campaign encourages consumers to think twice before buying a new garment, and to instead think about repairing old clothes.
Alongside the campaign, the company started a program called “Worn Wear” in 2013. The program creates an outlet for sustainability in the fashion world. As a part of the program, Patagonia offers instructions from washing to sewing as a way to inform consumers on how to repair worn-out clothes and “make them last a lifetime”.
As a part of Worn Wear, the eco-conscious company promises to repair any damaged Patagonia products for customers free of charge. All the customer has to do is mail in their item(s). Patagonia also acts as a recycling station; customers can send in their old Patagonia garments to be recycled by the company.
The most recent initiative to join the program is the Worn Wear Tour. Started in 2015, the Worn Wear Tour takes Patagonia’s repair services on the road.
Patagonia hired artist Jay Nelson to build a truck that would allow Patagonia employees to repair consumers’ garments all across the globe. Nelson hand crafted a wagon out of upcycled redwood wine barrels that is attached to a tow truck. This concept revolutionized the way consumers recycle clothing.
As part of the tour, Patagonia employees participate in month-long tours riding along in the truck repairing garments for citizens free of charge. On the tour, 40 garments are repaired every hour.
This year, the Worn Wear team partnered with the Post-Landfill Action Network to go on a special tour, College Spring Tour 2017, stopping at colleges all over the country. One of the colleges on the tour was the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. On Friday, March 3rd, fashion students were surprised to see a strange truck parked right outside of the school, waiting to repair their old garments.
The Worn Wear Tour inspired FIT students to keep sustainable initiatives alive in the fashion industry.
“I thought it was amazing how Patagonia went around schools in the U.S. trying to start an initiative. There were people sitting both inside and outside the truck on sewing machines in the freezing weather, fixing people’s garments. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is," said Judy Greco, an FIT student.
The College Spring Tour 2017 will hit the University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, Rochester Institute of Technology, Ohio University, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Colorado, Utah State University, University of Oregon, UC Berkley, Cal Poly SLO and UC Santa Barbara in the next coming weeks. If you have old favorites that need repairing, make sure to bring them to the Patagonia wagon!
Eager Patagonia fans waiting for their clothing repairs. Photo from ecouterre.com.