2009 AIGA CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Recognized as a leader in materials innovation and for a commitment to quality, authenticity, functionality and sustainability at every level.
From top: Patagonia logo; Nano Puff Pullover, made from recycled polyester shell fabric; and screenshot from the Footprint Chronicles website.
Anyone who has hiked through unrelenting rain or paddled out to catch winter swells is indebted to the thoughtfully constructed gear protecting them from the elements. As a company founded on improving every step or stroke for outdoor enthusiasts, Patagonia has many grateful—not to mention dry and warm—supporters. Patagonia consistently sets the trend by innovating streamlined outdoor clothing and progressive business practices—from introducing fleece made from post-consumer recycled plastic soda bottles to ensuring safe, legal conditions for its workers.
Founder Yvon Chouinard, an avid rock climber, experienced firsthand the need for lighter, more functional climbing equipment that was less damaging to the environment. So he began to forge climbing gear and a company was born. Thirty-five years later, Patagonia's commitment to creating thoughtful, responsible products has expanded to include the sports of surfing, fishing, hiking, skiing and trail running. The modest tin shed that served as Chouinard's first workshop still stands today as a reminder of the company's roots at headquarters in Ventura, California. Visitors to the Patagonia website can virtually explore the tin shed environment to uncover adventure stories, videos, slideshows, podcasts and field reports.
Patagonia's engaging website and catalogues exist not only to sell, but also to provide a snapshot of the Patagonia lifestyle. Presented more like magazines, the lush guides address environmental issues and feature stories and images submitted by real people, known as “Patagonia ambassadors.” Authenticity is key, thus Patagonia strives to be more than a label, but to be associated with those real life adventures.
Welcoming consumers into the world of Patagonia means not only enticing them with the breathtaking images of where a garment has traveled, but also educating them about where it came from. True to its core values, Patagonia participates in the fight to preserve those wild and beautiful places where its gear is put to the test. Last year alone, Patagonia donated—in direct grants, clothing donations and sponsorships—more than $3 million toward grassroots environmental giving. Twelve years ago, Patagonia converted its entire sportswear production process from conventionally grown to organic-only cotton, and it has instituted, among other initiatives, the web-based Footprint Chronicles, which tracks the impact of a product from design to delivery.
Through the forward thinking that goes into its garments and corporate ideology, Patagonia proves that even large companies can leave minimal trace while making a big positive impact.