Not content with encouraging potential buyers to check out eBay for pre-loved products or resoling their shoes before purchasing new ones, outdoor clothier Patagonia recently took the audacious step of telling their customers simply to not to buy their jackets.
During the recent Black Friday, (America’s mad buying frenzy that somehow denotes an “official” start to Christmas shopping), Patagonia placed an advert in the New York Times, requesting of readers; “Don’t Buy This Jacket.”
As we noted about their eBay initiative such an exhortation is highly unlikely to decrease sales of their outdoor and lifestyle clothing and footwear. Such a blatant anti-consumption message is more likely to strengthen the bonds with existing customers and make for curious new ones.
Whether or not it actually slows sales of fleece jackets in this “shopping season” is probably of secondary concern. I suspect its main impact is to sow the seed of doubt, to be subversive, to jemmy open some thinking space in the minds of what the market lovingly calls “consumers.”
The core message from the advert is:
We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else. [...] Don’t buy what you don’t need. [R]eimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.
Naysayers will rightly argue that Patagonia didn’t get to be a $400 million USD company by NOT selling clothing. True. However what the pundits might not be aware of is that Patagonia is a still family business owned by Yvon and Malinda Chouinard. Yvon wrote in the introduction to his company’s autobiography (Let My People Go Surfing):
Patagonia exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business. We believe the accepted model of capitalism that necessitates endless growth and deserves the blame for the destruction of nature must be displaced.
Read more about the Black Friday advert at Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line. Along with a follow-up opinion piece by The Story of Stuff’s Annie Leonard, and Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives
• Patagonia Says, “Buy Our Stuff On Ebay”
• Patagonia Say: Resole Worn Shoes, Before Buying New
• Patagonia Launches Groundbreaking Sustainable Wool Program In Argentina
• The TH Interview: Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia (Part One)
• Patagonia to SIGG: We're Finished!