28 May 2015

Patagonia hits the road to spread sustainability message

If it’s broke, fix it. This is the philosophy behind Patagonia’s Worn Wear Tour, which saw Patagonia take to the road to spread its sustainability message.

The six-week tour traveled through 21 US states, stopping to repair old Patagonia gear free of charge, sell second-hand clothing and host DIY workshops.

The tour was undertaken in a custom-made repair truck, which was built using up-cycled materials including redwood wine barrels and was fueled by biofuels.  The Worn Wear Wagon, a one-of-a-kind created by artist/surfer Jay Nelson, was fitted with an industrial Juki sewing machine. 

The Worn Wear Tour stopped at branded events across the country held at surf shops, eco events and festivals it was staffed by Patagonia staff from the brand's repair facility and was open to anyone who wished to bring in a garment - all garments were accepted regardless of brands. 

The tour aimed to promote the brand’s Worn Wear initiative, which encourages consumers to repair, recycle and reuse products rather than buying new ones. Patagonia grabbed headlines in 2011 when it launched ad campaigns during the US shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday urging people not to buy its products. The ads were part of the brand's Common Threads Initiative, which paved the way for Worn Wear. 

The Worn Wear initiative has become a significant pillar in the brand’s sustainability credentials and it has helped the brand engage with consumers and share its brand values. The Worn Wear Tour aimed to build on this and generate greater awareness by connecting the movement with communities across America and demonstrating how responsible the brand is, while empowering consumers to follow their lead. 

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said, "There is nothing we can change about how we make clothing that would have more positive environmental impact than simply making less. Worn Wear is a celebration of quality products and their relationship to our lives. It's a simple but critical message: keep your gear in action longer and take some pressure off our planet."

As part of the Worn Wear platform, Patagonia has published repair manuals through iFixit and sells dedicated repair kits, which include needles, threads and other materials to extend the life of Patagonia products. It has also partnered with Yerdle to encourage people to swap and share clothing. 
in 2013 Patagonia created a branded documentary called, ‘Worn Wear: A film about the stories we wear’, which brought the initiative to life by featuring Patagonia customers sharing the stories of much loved – and worn - items of Patagonia clothing.

The Worn Wear Tour aimed to build on this by inviting people to bring their worn and aging Patagonia gear to gatherings where they could repair them and share their stories. They also invited people to bring other branded items in a true sign of sustainability. 

The objective was to create a brand experience where the brand values and ‘If it’s broke, fix it’ messaging is brought to life for customers by providing tips and advice on how to repair products and extend a garment's lifetime. Patagonia wants to empower individuals to live more sustainably. 

It was also a significant branding exercise to reinforce Patagonia’s sustainability message and its mission to make people more responsible and conscious of their impact on the environment.

As founder Yvon Chouinard has said: “We can’t be a society that is based on consuming and discarding endlessly. What we are trying to do is to make clothes that can be handed down, that can last forever. “

It’s all part of an ongoing investment by Patagonia to really live and breathe the company’s brand values despite being a commercial operation, which makes money by manufacturing and selling clothing. 

This is a supremely brilliant strategy by the brand. It demonstrates leadership, bravery and most significantly humanity – something many commercial brands struggle to find. Branded Arts Review has previously written about how brilliant the Worn Wear strategy is, you can read more on this here.

The Worn Wear Tour is a brilliant way to bring the brand values to life with an immersive brand experience and to reach out and engage with communities to share the brand's messages. 

The repair shop also helps people experience first hand Patagonia's message of quality. All Patagonia clothing comes with a lifetime guarantee as the clothing should last the wearer a lifetime, by allowing people to repair the products and keep on using and wearing them, this speaks volumes to the overall quality of the products.

Patagonia already operates the largest repair facility in the US, in addition to a repair facility in its New York store, the success of this tour may lead to the company opening more in other stores throughout the states.

It also puts the sustainability back in consumers hands. You can choose to repair your items and embrace and live the Worn Wear philosophy, or throw away and buy new. It is immensely powerful stuff.

At a time when brands are looking for purpose and values to help engage consumers, Patagonia has created an impressive initiative that aligns with the brand and provides consumers with a great platform. This latest tour is a brilliant brand experience to bring the message to life.

5 stars.




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