Buy less, buy better, extend the life of a product. It’s a wise, shareable, smart message. Who could have come up with it? An ecologist? An association working to protect the environment and promote recycling? A public body?
Not even close: the author behind this message of responsibility, this call to be more aware of our personal consumption habits, is none other than a clothing brand. We’re referring to Patagonia, a company for whom sustainability has always guided their decision-making across production, raw materials and environmental policy. And while an increasing number of companies are adopting the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, incorporating them into their missions and business models and committing to self-regulate, Patagonia goes one step further.
Patagonia has set itself the challenge of not only operating in an ethical manner, but of educating customers about a smart, sustainable approach to consumption which focuses on recycling and reusing what we already have.
This principle is at the heart of the Worn Wear initiative launched by Patagonia across all of its channels. The campaign is already receiving widespread plaudits from the public and critics alike – just check out the hashtags #WornWear and #BetterThanNew for a quick taste of the brand’s initiative.
It is a wide-reaching campaign made up of several different elements. Some are the responsibility of the company itself, such as a commitment to producing better, more long-lasting products in order to avoid having to churn out too much stock and thus surpassing the true requirements of the market. Patagonia’s efforts thus translate into savings for consumers and relief for the environment, with reduced energy consumption, decreased wastage of resources and – as a result – a fall in global pollution levels.
Other facets of the initiative engage directly with consumers, who are encouraged to repair damaged garments rather than throwing them away and replacing them with new clothing. It is an honourable suggestion, but this is more than just hot air: Patagonia are leading by example, providing a paid repairs service for all customers who are unwilling to part with their beloved garments.
For those that would like to maximise the savings and carry out repairs themselves, the brand has published precise guidelines which teach customers how to successfully complete DIY repair tasks of varying levels of difficulty.
Last but certainly not least, Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative sends out a message that goes against the grain of enterprise and business, for whom profit is always king. Instead, the sports clothing brand is encouraging customers to buy less, to avoid buying things they don’t use and to opt for used products. Madness? Foolishness? Not according to Patagonia, who see the Worn Wear campaign – and sustainability in general – as a golden opportunity to increase brand awareness and win over their young, environmentally conscious target market.
It’s certainly a bold, counter-current policy, but one that has been met with wide approval from consumers, who are signing up to the initiative in their droves. On top of that, Patagonia has received recognition from some of the leading players in international business. Indeed, the Californian company’s status as one of the most innovative circular-economy organisations around was confirmed when it was honoured at the prestigious The Circulars initiative, which rewards achievements in the realm of sustainability and is promoted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture.