Yvon Chouinard, the founder of one of my favorite hiking apparel companies – Patagonia – has a new book out suggesting that capitalism as we know it is on an unsustainable path. The Responsible Company discusses how most products that are produced are of extremely low product quality. Chouinard’s company, Patagonia, has taken the opposite approach, designing and manufacturing product like my favorite Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater Jacket. If a Patagonia product wears out, they encourage you to send it back to them for repair or recycling.
As a consumer, it is reassuring to know the origin of product I buy. While I don’t need to know the specifics, I do know that certain brands are committed to making sure that even the supplier of the dyes and fabric aren’t causing major environmental damage to make something I ultimately wear or consume. I also know certain brands, ones like Patagonia and Icebreaker, make products that will last years, not months.
Is it possible for other companies to follow in the footsteps of Patagonia? Will consumers be able to afford the higher prices associated with higher quality, longer life products? What do you think?