Started by a band of climbers and surfers, and the minimalist style they promoted, Patagonia has been committed to protecting the environment from day one of its inception. Never bound by convention, the company uses its business to inspire and implement solutions that address environmental causes and issues and encourages its ambassadors, employees and customers to get involved in the Patagonia Action Works Program. Ambassador Jason Slezak delves into Patagonia’s redesigned wetsuit lineup for the new season and the initiatives the company is working on.
Patagonia, just like the rest of the world, has had a crazy year. 2020 forced us all to stop and take a good hard look at everything through a slightly different lens and really evaluate what is most important to us and our families. We kept our entire Ambassador team intact and asked all of them to stay safe and stay home, rather than travel abroad. This has allowed many of our crew to be able to put even more effort into supporting local causes, devoting more time to their families, or simply just experiencing the joys of being home. Our designers and development specialists have continued to stay the course of leading the industry in environmentally responsible and ethically sourced materials, albeit while working remotely rather than together. Despite these destabilizing forces, we have emerged with a new CEO, Ryan Gellert, a new head of Patagonia Inc., Jenna Johnson, and a greater commitment to our mission statement, “We’re in business to save our home planet.” To put it in simple terms…we are now more driven than ever to do the best that we can do to provide the best product to consumers while being the change that we want to see in the world.
IS THERE A SINGLE INNOVATION THAT YOU WOULD FIRST LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT?
At Patagonia, we have always strived to build the best product possible, while doing no unnecessary harm—we are wholeheartedly in business to save our home planet because, without it, none of us will be able to live and play for generations to come. With that said, we are continuing our commitment to ‘Keep Kids Off Of Neoprene’ by producing our entire wetsuit lineup out of neoprene-free FSC Certified Yulex® natural rubber (85% Yulex natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber by polymer content) and solution-dyed exterior and interior fabrics (saving 26 gallons of water per suit and reducing CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional neoprene manufacturing). Additionally, the suits are sewn in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory.
For a greater explanation, what this means is that our suits are made from natural rubber that is sustainably tapped from hevea trees (from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council® certified by the Rainforest Alliance), which absorb carbon throughout their lifespan, and the solution dying process allows us to add pigment directly to the yarn as it is being made, rather than traditional vat dying in which an abundance of the water and dye becomes a waste by-product once the process is complete. This solution dyeing process not only results in less water waste but also results in a stronger overall yarn which lends to a longer-lasting and more durable product.
WHAT HAS CHANGED OR IS NEW IN YOUR 2021 WETSUIT LINEUP? WHAT ARE THE KEY FUNCTIONAL AND PERFORMANCE FEATURES INTRODUCED THIS YEAR?
We focused our efforts on improved fit and function for 2021. Taking feedback from our surf and kitesurf ambassadors has allowed us to re-examine the way our suits are put together. Our new suits have updated patterning across the back shoulder seam for ease of motion while surfing or kitesurfing. On the inside of the suit, a wider, lower-profile internal seam tape provides the utmost comfort against your skin. These functional performance and fit features are all wrapped in a 100% recycled spandex exterior fabric and 100% recycled, ultra-soft polyester arm and leg lining that saves 18 water bottles per suit. So, not only have we increased the performance of our suits in the water, we also have been able to reduce the impact that they have on the environment in the process.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ACCESSORIES OR OTHER PRODUCT LINES YOU WOULD LIKE TO BRIEFLY INTRODUCE OR DISCUSS CHANGES/HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2021?
Our product lineup is rather extensive and we are proud of all of the steps that we have taken to reduce our impact on the environment. But a major highlight that we would like to discuss is our Patagonia Action Works program. So often, and more so now than ever, people in our sporting communities want to learn how they can get involved and make a difference in their area. In our surfing and kitesurfing communities, we have been encouraging participants to join us in the ‘Protect Our Peaks’ initiative to help protect our waves, valuable coastlines and coastal communities. For more information on ‘Protect Our Peaks’ or to learn more about what you can do in your own region, check out Patagonia Action Works: https://www.patagonia.com/actionworks/#!/choose-location/