NEW YORK — Later this month, Patagonia catalogue shoppers will be among the first to find out about the company’s Common Threads Initiative.
Instead of just hailing the benefits of recycling and reusing clothing, the program is also meant to encourage consumers to think twice before they buy something new. “Don’t buy this jacket unless you really need it” will be one of the cautionary messages used on hangtags, posters and other in-store signage. Self-defeating as that might sound, founder Yvon Chouinard said this unconventional approach will “increase my business like crazy,” namely because the brand will cut into competitors’ sales. Over the past few years, the recession has made people more conservative about spending, more interested in long-lasting and better-quality items, he said.
“We want people to imagine our lives consuming less and living simpler lives based on what we need as opposed to what we want,” said Chouinard, whose company has donated 1 percent of its annual sales — $40 million to date — to environmental organizations for years.
The brand’s four Rs — reduce, repair, reuse and recycle — will be fleshed out in the holiday catalogue, which ships to about 1.2 million shoppers Nov. 15. To reduce, Patagonia is recommitting to making durable, multifunctional clothes that stay reasonably in fashion. Repair guarantees that if a zipper fails before a garment does, the company will fix it for free. As part of its reuse effort, the brand will help provide a way for shoppers to sell, trade or donate garments they no longer want.
During a speech at the 2010 Sustainable Textiles Conference in New York last week, Chouinard said eBay will play a role in this initiative. Approached afterward, he declined further comment, as did eBay executives, when reached later in the day.
For the recycle component, Patagonia will collect and recycle clothes in the least harmful way.
Patagonia is also still helping Wal-Mart with its environmental initiatives. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer was motivated to go more green after analyzing the life history of large clothing companies and retailers and determining that most do not last for more than a generation, Chouinard said. They also recognized that teenagers are much more concerned about preserving the environment than other generations were.
A consortium of large companies that account for 55 percent of the world’s apparel production is developing a sustainable fashion index along the lines of the organic standards that are used in the food industry. Within two years, shoppers should be able to walk into a store and scan a garment to see sustainability grades for energy and water use, social responsibility and other factors, Chouinard said. A Wal-Mart representative said the index would not be out for four or five years.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast