From the beginning, Patagonia focused on quality outdoor clothing and the company’s key consumers: climbers and surfers. Founder Yvon was the dreamer, the climber, the ideas man. He refused to be chained to the office or become one of “those” corporate types, preferring to do what he did best – exploring the outdoors, and creating and testing gear. The company also distinguished itself by its strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility. In 2012, Yvon, who still solely owns Patagonia with his wife, told the Wall Street Journal, “I never even wanted to be in business. But I hang onto Patagonia because it’s my resource to do something good. It’s a way to demonstrate that corporations can lead examined lives.” In the ‘80s, long before environmentalism was cool, Patagonia donated 1 per cent of sales (not just profits) to grassroots green groups. Vincent estimates that over the years more than 1000 small organisations have benefitted from almost US$55 million. “But it’s not enough,” he adds. “We may be winning skirmishes, but not winning war.” Patagonia was doing more than donating money. “Initially the environmental awareness was about giving grants to grassroots organisations. But as time went on we started to look at the environmental implications of what we’re doing,” says Vincent. “That commitment has deepened.” The brand continues to review its practices, from design to product. “Build the best product (and) cause no unnecessary harm,” reads the mission statement on the
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