Patagonia’s New Company is Helping Consumers Keep Their Gear in Play and Out of Landfills with its BuyBack Program, Repairs Warehouse, and Upcycled Clothing Line.
Patagonia is making second-hand clothing cool again with its Worn Wear program that buys back used items and re-sells or upcycles them at a discounted rate. The 40 year-old outdoor apparel brand has always viewed quality as an environmental issue and creates its durable clothes from organic and recycled materials. However, it has also realized that a missing piece in the sustainable equation is the consumer. The company introduced Worn Wear in 2013 to close this gap in its sustainability mission by creating a space dedicated to extending the life of Patagonia’s used clothing. Offering repairs, renewals, and factory seconds, Worn Wear aims to educate and empower consumers to more intentionally shop and care for their clothing for a lifetime.
Your Purchases are Your Demands
Worn Wear is an extension of outdoor giant Patagonia’s decades-long campaign to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the clothing industry on the environment. An industry that contributes up to 10% of the pollution driving the climate crisis. In their first catalogue released in 1972, Patagonia shared its conservation ethos that continues to drive the brand today, writing “No longer can we assume that our earth’s resources are limited.”
While the brand has since taken steps to ensure its clothing is made from organic and recycled materials that will last forever, and minimize its environmental impact in other areas of production and business as a certified B-Corp, Patagonia is now using its brand power to send a very clear message to consumers – we must also participate in closing the wasteful gap of the clothing industry, primarily by reducing consumption and mending what we already own, and secondarily by purchasing any new clothing from eco-friendly brands. In essence, the brand asks us to “Buy Less and Demand More.”
The Worn Wear program is helping us live up to this new rule of thumb by buying back our worn Patagonia apparel to re-sell at pre-owned rates in exchange for up to $100 credit for new or used gear. For its own part, Patagonia is taking responsibility by incorporating its flawed Factory Seconds into Worn Wear’s online stores. These include items that arrive at the brand’s warehouse with some sort of (usually minor and aesthetic) flaw. Still functional, but offered at a deep discount.
Worn Wear assures us our efforts are not in vain. Buying used extends a garment’s life by about two years, which cuts its combined carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%. And with 10.5 million tons of textiles entering landfills in 2015 alone, the company insists that following the life of our clothing is one of the most responsible things we can do as consumers.
If It’s Broke, Fix It
Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, and its overwhelming success, shows just how long-lasting the company’s eco-friendly apparel and outerwear really is. The company has repaired over half a million garments that are sometimes up to half a century old, at its Reno, Nevada warehouse, which has become the largest garment repair facility in the US. Impressive statistics considering Patagonia’s clothing is not made for the average wear and tear – it’s often been subjected to extreme, adventure-filled conditions.
Which is also what motivates the repair techs who receive damaged items at their warehouse or on one of Worn Wear’s global repair tours. It’s the stories behind the pieces that have been handed down or traveled with people to special places on special adventures around the world that inspire the extra patience and creativity required to do the repair.
And while replacing a zipper may seem like a simple fix (it’s actually a 90 minute job), the extra effort could help save your favorite jacket or lucky pair of shorts, not only reducing your ecological footprint, but keeping the cherished memories – and superstitions – alive.
Worn Wear is also investing in all of us as our own repair techs. The company has partnered with iFixit to create over 100 repair and care guides and DIY tutorials for Patagonia gear. Beyond clothing, they remind us we can learn how to repair an old vacuum cleaner, bicycle or video game console as part of our role as more responsible consumers.
Our Clothing’s Scars Tell a Story
Clothing items with scars beyond repair still get a chance to tell their story as part of new, upcycled gear available for purchase in Worn Wear shops.
However, the task of disassembling garments and piecing them together to make a new shirt, jacket, or even unique, imaginative items like travel bags, scarves and aprons, takes a special talent.
Perhaps similar to an episode of Project Runway, where the designers are encouraged to “make it work,” Worn Wear employs a full-time team of in-house creatives at their California warehouse dedicated to upcycling scraps and the garments that didn’t make it. These Cinderella items become reimagined pieces in the company’s ReCrafted Collection.
With some extra care and creativity, Worn Wear is changing the way we think about our chewed up, worn out, but still well loved clothing, and helping us do our part for the planet when it comes to what we wear.
As Featured In
Worn Wear’s dedication to keeping used clothing out of landfills was covered in The Washington Post.
Where to Find
Worn Wear has over 8 locations in California and many more across the US and around the world. Click here to find a store near you.