kottke.org posts about Yvon Chouinard

The business lessons of Patagonia

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2012

A profile of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia and an unlikely business guru.

Then he looked at everything Patagonia made, shipped or processed, and resolved to do it all more responsibly. He changed materials, switching in 1996 from conventional to organic cotton-despite the fact that it initially tripled his supply costs-because it was less harmful to the environment. He created fleece jackets made entirely from recycled soda bottles. He vowed to create products durable enough and timeless enough that people could replace them less often, reducing waste. He put “The Footprint Chronicles” up on Patagonia’s website, exhaustively cataloging the environmental damage done by his own company. He now takes responsibility for every item Patagonia has ever made — promising either to replace it if the customer is dissatisfied, repair it (for a reasonable fee), help resell it (Patagonia facilitates exchanges of used clothes on its website), or recycle it when at last it’s no longer wearable.

Posting this partially for my wife, who is a life-long Patagonia customer.