Patagonia’s creative director on being a leader in sustainable production

“It’s not as difficult as people think it is.”

Patagonia leading the way when it comes to ethical and sustainable garment production isn’t anything new. But we still like to stay up-to-date with the brand’s latest eco-friendly projects.

Under the leadership of Global Creative Director, Miles Johnson, Patagonia recently released the re//collection. It’s a line of clothing made entirely from recycled materials, like reused down from reclaimed items, wool from discarded sweaters and polyester from recycled plastic bottles.

We wanted to find out a little more about Patagonia’s focus on sustainability, so we went straight to the source. Here’s what Miles had to say about Patagonia’s business model.

How does Patagonia source its recycled materials?

We work closely with all our fabric suppliers to encourage the highest level of recycled fibre to each cloth. Sometimes, it’s a low percentage, whereas other times it’s 100 per cent. It’s something we chip away at every season to see things change for the better. 

Tell us more about Patagonia’s philosophy and approach to sustainability?

As a brand, we’re lucky to have such a clear mission statement that gives direction for everything we do. The sustainable side of manufacturing clothing is responsible and common sense. Other brands need examples to see that practices can be set up better. If brands choose not to see that (because they’re worried they won’t make as much money), they have their heads in the sand. Not being sustainable is not sustainable.

Patagonia is definitely cementing itself in the fashion space. Was this ever intentional?

No, not really. Patagonia doesn’t think of itself as a fashion brand. But, when you have a commitment to your own style and identity, trends often come around to your aesthetic. Oversized fleece tops, which were so out of fashion three years ago, get picked up by those who appreciate the look from the past. And there you are, back in it.

We really don’t mind that sometimes people think we’re being fashionable but it’s always the functionality of every garment that drives our reason for designing clothing.

What are the current areas for improvement with Patagonia? What are you working towards?

We’re reducing our water consumption, increasing our recycled content, certifying all our factories to Fair Trade. [We’re] working towards saving the environment and the places we love and decreasing our manufacturing footprint.

What are your thoughts on fast fashion brands?

I hope they disappear as fast as they seem to appear.

Advice to brands wanting to improve their sustainability?

Just make some long-term decisions to improve sustainability where you can and stick to it using a strategy. It’s not as difficult as people think it is.


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