Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has made an unprecedented announcement that he is donating the company. In a letter posted on the Patagonia website, Chouinard explained that his decision stems from a desire to preserve the company’s values and safeguard its global team of employees.

Considered selling the company and donating the proceeds, but Chouinard was concerned about a potential new owner compromising the company’s principles. Taking the company public was also not an option, as Chouinard believed that the pressure for short-term gains would undermine the company’s long-term sustainability and responsibility.

Hence, Chouinard and his family have decided to transfer all of their shares, totaling 100%, to a trust called the Patagonia Purpose Trust. This trust will ensure that the company’s values are dutifully upheld. Additionally, the profits generated by Patagonia will be donated to the Holdfast Collective, an organization dedicated to combating the environmental crisis and protecting nature.

Throughout his career, Yvon Chouinard has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to environmental preservation. Starting as a rock climber, he invented reusable steel pitons and carabiners, selling them to sustain himself. Eventually, he partnered with climber and aeronautical engineer Tom Frost, and their company, Chouinard Equipment, became the leading supplier of climbing gear in the US.

In 1973, Chouinard Equipment expanded its product range to include outdoor clothing and accessories and rebranded as Patagonia. Since then, the company has remained dedicated to environmental protection. Chouinard replaced environmentally detrimental climbing pitons with more sustainable aluminum belaying devices. Patagonia quickly gained recognition and support from climbers.

In recent years, Patagonia has also made efforts to incorporate recycled or natural textile fibers into its outdoor clothing lines. The company has been annually donating 1% of its sales to environmental organizations since the mid-1980s. In 2019, Patagonia declared its mission to “save the planet” and contributed $10 million to environmental causes in response to a tax cut granted to US companies by the Trump administration.

While Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability has garnered widespread admiration, it has not been without controversy. In 2012, the brand admitted to using down from geese subjected to force-feeding. However, it implemented a traceability system to ensure that its down is ethically sourced without animal abuse. In 2015, PETA criticized Patagonia for its wool supplier’s treatment of animals.

Yvon Chouinard’s decision to donate Patagonia will undoubtedly be remembered as a significant moment in sustainable fashion and philanthropy. By entrusting the company to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and directing the profits to the Holdfast Collective, Chouinard is guaranteeing that Patagonia’s dedication to environmental preservation will endure for years to come.

Useful links:
1. Patagonia Official Website
2. Holdfast Collective Official Website