In Praise of Patagonia

Posted by Whole Earth | 03.10.2021


Quality Responsibility Action


Whole Earth Provision Co. has been carrying goods from Patagonia for so long that they weren’t even called Patagonia at the beginning of our long relationship. We first knew them as Chouinard Equipment, purveyors of climbing gear. Later they were Great Pacific Iron Works, and we loved their standup shorts and rugby jerseys. And finally, they settled on the name Patagonia. Several members of our Whole Earth staff even doubled as reps for Patagonia in the early days and have fond memories of sales meetings at Yvon Chouinard’s home on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.


Patagonia’s first incarnation was Chouinard Equipment, a business that grew out of the back of Chouinard’s car. He forged reusable chrome-molybdenum steel pitons that freed climbers from covering climbing walls with permanently placed pitons. But there was a problem. The pitons were destroying the rock faces on popular climbing routes. Chouinard phased out pitons and developed aluminum chocks, an alternative that could be wedged into cracks for support rather than hammering in and pulling out pitons. They called it clean climbing – climbing rock without changing it. Chouinard and his partners redesigned and improved almost every climbing tool, making them stronger, lighter, simpler and more functional.

Great Pacific Iron Works was first a store and then later the name of Patagonia’s clothing line. They imported items from around the world and were on the hunt for clothing that could be redesigned and repurposed for climbing and other outdoor activities. As they began to make more and more clothing, the time came to find a new name for the brand. They settled on Patagonia, a name that evoked magnificent landscapes and faraway adventure.


Patagonia invested in fabric research and developed materials that were lightweight and warm. Synchilla and Capilene were early success stories. Patagonia extolled the virtues of layering – a Capilene base layer for warmth, with a Synchilla pullover for added warmth and insulation, covered with a waterproof shell for wind and water protection. Color also set Patagonia apart from the competition. Outdoor clothing generally came in two colors, forest green and tan. Patagonia added cobalt, teal, French red, aloe, seafoam and more to the outdoor clothing palette.


Today, when people think of Patagonia, the first word that usually comes to mind is quality. Patagonia clothing and gear are thoughtfully designed and carefully constructed from materials that combine good looks, durability and environmental sensitivity. From dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, baggies, shirts, tees, vests, rain jackets and winter wear, Patagonia’s clothing for men, women and children is ready for all seasons and weather. And their clothing for children is so well made, that despite the normal ‘wear and tear’ of an active childhood, it can be handed down to younger siblings.


The Black Hole Duffel is made for short or long hauls. Pack it for the weekend or take it around the world. It’s made of tough, laminated rip-stop nylon with a DWR, durable water repellent, finish, and has a padded bottom to protect your clothing and gear from the slings and arrows of outrageous baggage handling. Best of all, the Black Hole Duffel packs into its own pocket. You can carry it in your luggage on the way out, and have a second bag ready to fill with goodies from your travels on the return trip home.


Patagonia is a responsible manufacturer of clothing and gear. They source basic materials that have been produced according to strict environmental standards including the humane treatment of animals and the safety of workers, as well as adopting Bluesign® standards to make the textile manufacturing process as environmentally sound as possible. Patagonia also monitors their production facilities to assure that there are safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions throughout the supply chain.


When problems arise, Patagonia does not turn away but instead works to solve the problem. Microfibers from synthetic materials that find their way from our washing machines to the oceans are a current concern. Patagonia has joined in the search for new materials that don’t shed, and is calling for washing machines to include filters to capture microfibers and for waste treatment plants to be updated to do the same. In the meantime, Patagonia developed the Guppyfriend washing bag that protects synthetic garments and reduces the number of microfibers that get flushed through washing machines and that eventually may enter our rivers and oceans.


For almost 40 years, Patagonia has supported grassroots organizations working to preserve and protect our land and the environment. Through their 1% for the Planet program, Patagonia has donated almost 89 million dollars to groups around the world and groups here in Texas. And in the face of these challenging times, Patagonia has created Patagonia Action Works, a digital tool to connect activists, grassroots organizations and communities so that they can better respond to local, national, and global environmental challenges.


So these are just a few of the reasons we’re proud to be long term partners with Patagonia. Their quality clothing and gear, corporate responsibility and championing of environmental causes make them a company we believe worthy of your support.


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