Patagonia's founder Yvon Chouinard started climbing in 1953 at the age of 14. By age 18 he was manufacturing climbing gear, and by 1970 Chouinard Equipment had become the largest supplier of climbing gear in the U.S. Before long, Chouinard realized that the standard climbing gear of the time was damaging popular climbing routes, so he developed an entirely new type of climbing gear—nuts instead of pitons—and started all over again.
Patagonia, originally a clothing division under the Chouinard Equipment brand name, was created in the mid-'70s and stayed true to the brand's spirit of environmental awareness. Through organizations such as the Conservation Alliance and 1% For The Planet, Patagonia has since led an environmental charge in the world of outdoor clothing. Patagonia jackets, pants, shirts, board shorts, T-shirts, and other men's and women's apparel feature goods designed and manufactured using recycled materials, organic cotton, and low-impact construction methods.
Patagonia is more than an environmentally friendly clothing manufacturer, however. It has led the way in technical apparel with moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics and other industry-changing innovations. Its timeless designs and legendary durability have made Patagonia one of the most widely respected names in ski and outdoor clothing. Patagonia has also expanded its manufacturing to include everything from backpacks to belts, hats, shoes, and even beanies.
Patagonia has also had a huge influence on the outdoor industry from the fashion perspective. Chouinard believed that perfection in design was achieved 'not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away'. Minimalism has been a guiding principle in Patagonia design from the very beginning, allowing form to follow function. This wisdom is recognized and appreciated throughout the outdoor industry. In the early '80s, Patagonia made a bold move that would change the industry forever. It drenched its outerwear in vibrant colors at a time when all men's outerwear was strictly tan or forest green. Soon cobalt, teal, French red, aloe, sea foam, and iced mocha became standard colors for outerwear, and the look of the outdoors changed forever.
These days, Patagonia is everywhere. Although it never strove to influence fashion, you can't go to the grocery store, the movies, or the local pub without seeing Patagonia's influence on what we wear every day. Unlike many manufacturers, however, Patagonia put its stamp on the outdoor clothing industry forever while to staying true to its roots and its promise to environmentally conscious ideals.