Patagonia Inc. has revealed that it is cracking down on the proliferation of corporate logo vests that have come to be the wardrobe staple along Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
The outdoor paraphernalia maker says it will no longer create the products for any old company through its corporate sales program; in recent years, Patagonia has made a conscious shift toward working with “mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet,” as per a company statement released earlier this week. In the past, the company has made all kinds of gear for all kinds of companies, from nonprofit organisations to big banks.
Now, Patagonia says it wants to work with companies that have the B Corp designation to its client list. That is, companies that meet specific environmental, social and transparency standards and are certified by a private organisation. Patagonia is itself a B Corp listed firm, among several financial and technology firms.
The company has refused to reveal when exactly these changes were enacted, but existing corporate customers need not worry: current clients will remain in the program, and will continue to be able to order branded items from Patagonia.
In recent years, the characteristic fleece and puffer vests produced by the brand have come to be known as the go-to corporate uniform in the finance and technology sectors, so much so that Instagram account Midtown Uniform has garnered more than 119 thousand followers since its inception. It’s certainly an odd combination, given the outdoor brand is otherwise an essential for wild wear, hiking and camping gear.
Word of Patagonia’s shift first spread when Binna Kim, president of the communications agency Vested (of apparently no relation), shared on social media an email from a third-party supplier of Patagonia’s corporate products after it was reportedly rejected from making an order for a client.
“Patagonia has nothing against your client or the financial industry,” the email reads, “it’s just not an area they are currently marketing through our co-brand division. While they have co-branded here in the past, the brand is really focused right now on only co-branding with a small collection of like-minded and brand aligned areas: outdoor sports that are relevant to the gear we design, regenerative organic farming, and environmental activism.”
“We’re in the business to save our home planet,” the email continues, “Patagonia requires that we submit this info with all orders. Due to their environmental activism, they are reluctant to co-brand with oil, drilling, mining, dam construction, etc. companies that they view to be ecologically damaging…every end user is up to Patagonia’s approval and each order is approved or denied on a per case basis.”
The move might seem a risky one for Patagonia’s bottom line; Wall Street and Silicon Valley do, after all, have some of the deepest pockets in the world. Still, it’s likely Patagonia will be sticking to its guns on this one in a move that might actually boost its approval with the rest of its customer base. America’s wealthy might have deep pockets, but they won’t be made by Patagonia for much longer.