Clean Clothes is a series examining the fashion industry’s impact on our planet, and the brands, technologies, and people helping us toward a cleaner, more environmentally conscious future.
"Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis" says Patagonia in its official mission statement. The Californian brand has been catering to the needs of climbers, hikers and assorted outdoors-y types since 1973, and along the way found itself an accidental streetwear icon (Supreme has riffed on the brand's logo in the past, and Patagonia's cozy outerwear has inspired tons of other brands, too).
The brand has gone to great lengths to minimize its environmental impact over the years — it donates 1% of its sales to environmental groups, for example — and one of its newer initiatives is the so-called "Worn Wear" program. Patagonia customers can get a discount on new pieces by trading in their old gear, which the brand will then repair and restore, before selling it on via a special online store and globe-trotting series of pop-up shops.
"Extending the life of our garments is the single most important thing we can do to lower our impact on the planet" reads the press release for Patagonia's latest pop-up, which opened up in Berlin last weekend. "This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care, reuse and repair reduces the need to buy more over time — thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output, and water usage required to build it." Basically, Patagonia wants you to buy less stuff because it's bad for mother nature.
Shoppers in the German capital were given the chance to get their hands on pre-owned Patagonia gear (at a very wallet-friendly price), which had been lovingly restored and repaired by the brand's experts. Many pieces sported contrast panelling or little quirks to distinguish them from brand-new pieces, as you'll see in the gallery above.
The Worn Wear pop-ups will also repair customers' clothing for free (even if it's not Patagonia), and will also give customers the tools to fix pieces themselves, to further lengthen their lifespan.
Head over to Patagonia's Worn Wear website to shop some pre-owned bangers of your own (in the USA only, currently), and find out more about the brand's history, and that of its rival, The North Face, while you're at it.
If you're interesting in reading about the environmental impact on mass clothing consumption, here's 12 mind-blowing facts that'll (hopefully) change the way you think about fashion. Proponents of what's called the circular economy believe that actually, in the future we won't own clothes — we'll rent them.