Patagonia’s Worn Wear: “If It’s Broke, Let’s Fix It”
by Obi Elledge
There is a common myth that people in Northern California do not care about fashion. This is false, of course, as anyplace that supports a class system has a system of style values; and NorCal is a vigorously classist place.
The myth might be fueled by the misunderstanding that caring about fashion means you desire to reflect the pages of Vogue magazine. With this belief you’ll easily miss the trends and tropes conveyed by the residents of this part of the country, who are sooner to take their queues from the brands seen at the X-games than those shown at Fashion Week. Folks here like to show off their labels, too, mind you. Yet instead of Hermes they choose Hurley; rather than Oscar de la Renta, they love O’Neill; and the highest praise goes not to Prada, but to Patagonia.
Trendspotter that I am, I peeped these preferences immediately. Cynic that I am, the trend turned me off immediately. I’d go into Patagonia stores (outlets, that is) trying on jackets, pulling on pants, poring over fabric tags, hoping to spot the reason I should be gagging over china-made polyester garments. I couldn’t find anything in the make of the clothing that made it instrinsically better than, say, Champion or another brand with retail price a fraction of those of Patagonia. I wrote it off as just another status label and, indeed, many people in this region wear it to convey class.
However, if I’ve learned nothing else from my two years in the Bay Area it’s that cynicism isn’t just unproductive, it’s downright destructive! So when the press release for Patagonia’s Worn Wear program came across my inbox I resisted the urge to send it straight to the bin and actually gave it an audience. I am pleasantly surprised:
Patagonia’s Worn Wear program was created in 2013 as a way to encourage people to take good care of their gear, washing and repairing as needed. The program aims to keep clothing, regardless of brand, in circulation for as long as possible. When it’s time for a replacement, we want you to invest in something that lasts.
That’s why Patagonia makes the best quality, most functional products in the world, guarantees them for life and owns the biggest garment repair facility in North America. And it’s why were going on tour – bringing Worn Wear’s critical message to communities across the country.
“There is nothing we can change about how we make clothing that would have more positive environmental impact than simply making less,” notes Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. “Worn Wear is a celebration of quality products and their relationship to our lives. It’s a simple but critical message: keep your gear in action longer and take some pressure off our planet.”
The notion that one should repair clothing instead of chucking them is one that is resonates with the Manifesto. It seems so reasonable, but so few brands spend anytime speaking to clothing care and repair – presumably because their business models thrive on throwaway culture. This action by Patagonia makes me feel better about the brand’s premium price tags. I believe in investing in good brands, especially when those brands then invest in new ideas that promote responsible consumption.
Learn more about Worn Wear and get tour dates at Patagonia.com.
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