Post B: Patagonia’s Worn Wear

Worn Wear is a not for profit project established and funded by clothing brand Patagonia in 2013 that aims to educate consumers on ways to mend damaged clothing items rather then replacing them, reducing the significant amount of landfill waste caused by clothing goods yearly. The project is an extension of Patagonia’s originally mission Common Thread Initiative, that promotes consumers to reduce, repair, recycle, reuse and reimagine their clothing products, constructing a more holistic approach to waste reduction an consumer attitudes to disposal. By simply keeping our clothing for 9 extra months we can reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by 20-30% each (WRAP, 2015) a much needed reduction to the environmental impact caused by the fashion industry considering Australians send $500 million of clothing and textiles to landfill every year, an average of 30kg per person (TFIA, 2015). Consumer culture currently sits within a fast fashion trend, garments are purchased regularly and unnecessarily, creating waste through disposed landfill, production and manufacturing waste.

Originally techniques such as replacing worn collars, cuffs, patching trousers, unravelling old knits for yarn and darning bed sheets were widely used (Fletcher, 2008). within society. However within a two generations these skills and techniques have been lost due to the financial and time incentives that purchasing a new product offers. Patagonia’s Worn Wear aims to reeducate consumers on the importance of garment appreciation and value, translating through to an interdisciplinary approach to waste management through consumer behaviour.

Through the Common Threads Initiative Patagonia launched a campaign in November 2011 reading ‘Don’t buy this jacket.’ The initiative ran in the New York Times on Black Friday weekend, when retailers traditionally launch their Christmas shopping holiday advertisements. Patagonia’s spread is in line with their mission statement, “there is nothing we can change about how we make clothing that would have more positive environmental impact than simply making less,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario (Simpson, 2015). This consumer understanding sits within the Dunne and Raby’s response to design activism in that “design is assumed to only make things nice, it’s as though all designers have taken an unspoken Hippocratic oath, this limits and prevents us from fully engaging with and designing for the complexities of human nature which of course is not always nice” (2001). Patagonia challenges this notion of a ‘fashion retailer’ through this campaign, aimed at educating consumers of the detrimental effects of every garment produced on the environment.

Don't Buy This Jacket advertisement within the November New York Times
Don’t Buy This Jacket advertisement within the November New York Times

Patagonia’s responsibility as a brand is aimed at shifting consumer understanding, consumption and trends. One only has to take a quick walk through Sydney CBD to notice the abundance of discounted clothing stores littering the streets, that aim at selling clothing for $10 or less. This attitude and consumer habit pushes the fashion industry towards a destructive path where overconsumption and waste are creating a devastating environmental impact. Patagonia’s Worn Wear and Common Threads Initiative are welcome and much needed response to the environmental impact of fast fashion on the world, in relation to waste and overconsumption. As Eric Hoffer, a mid-20th century philosopher, put it, “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need to make you happy.” (Chouinard, Gallagher, 2004)
References Text:
WRAP, 2015, Sustainable Textiles, United Kingdom, viewed April 22 2015, < http://www.wrap.org.uk/sustainable-textiles >

TFIA, 2015, Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia: Sustainability, viewed 22 April 22 2015 < http://www.tfia.com.au/sustainability >

Simpson, C, 2015, Patagonia Mobile Worn Wear Tour: If Its Broke Fix-it, weblog, Patagonia works, USA, viewed April 22nd 2015, < http://www.patagoniaworks.com/press/2015/3/31/patagonia-mobile-worn-wear-tour-if-its-broke-fix-it >

Fletcher, K. 2008, Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys, published Earthscan, UK

Patagonia, 2011, Don’t Buy This Jacket spread, weblog, The Cleanest Line/The New York Times, USA, viewed April 22 2015, < http://www.thecleanestline.com/2011/11/dont-buy-this-jacket-black-friday-and-the-new-york-times.html >

Dunne and Raby, Critical Design FAQs, academic online blog, viewed April 22, < http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0 >

Chouinard, Y. & Gallagher N., 2004, Don’t Buy This Shirt Unless You Need it, Patagonia, USA, viewed April 22 2015, < http://www.patagonia.com/eu/enGB/patagonia.go?assetid=9093 >

Reference Images:
Patagonia, 2011, Don’t Buy This Jacket spread, weblog, The Cleanest Line/The New York Times, USA, viewed April 22 2015, < http://www.thecleanestline.com/2011/11/dont-buy-this-jacket-black-friday-and-the-new-york-times.html >

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One thought on “Post B: Patagonia’s Worn Wear

  1. It’s great to see you’ve chosen to post about ‘The Worn Wear and Common Threads Initiative’ as this focuses on one of the biggest issue the fashion industry is facing. We all need to be more conscious of our consumer habits and this initiative is doing great work to educate consumers on sustainable ways we can do our part in reducing the environmental impact.

    As it is up to us to change the way we reduce waste and overconsumption, more initiatives like these are needed to spread the word!

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