Patagonia, an outdoor clothing brand with an environmental focus, was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, who since 1964 had been manufacturing pitons (metal anchors used in rock climbing) that would not damage the rock. While insisting on offering the best quality, the brand has contributed to a sustainable society and natural environment by developing eco-friendly materials and returning 1% of its sales back to society. Patagonia has redefined the role of a company and it continues to inspire the outdoor industry and the world.
Welcome to the 38th issue of B.
For me, the word “surfing” calls to mind two things. One is what Japanese graphic designer Taku Sato once told me while having dinner. As a surfing fan, he explained what makes surfing so awesome, saying, “Surfing is like balancing between the gravity of the earth and the pull of the moon. It’s a sport you need to understand at a cosmic scale.” From the day Taku, who is no longer as young as he used to be, told me what makes him chase good waves on the weekends, I started to look at the sport of surfing differently. The second is from Yvon Chouinard’s book Let My People Go Surfing. I came across this book, the expression of Chouinard’s business philosophy, while perusing books on management and marketing. The title’s metaphorical suggestion—when the waves are good you have to let the employees go surfing—inspired me to think again about what I consider to be an ideal corporate philosophy.
When I was first planning B, I thought Patagonia would be the perfect brand for the magazine to profile. The purpose behind Patagonia’s existence, the role it plays in society, its ethical philosophy toward manufacturing and marketing, and the stories of the employees in a place where work and life coexist—all of these things suggest something very different from the usual messages contained in management and marketing books. But Patagonia has proven itself through its growth, convincing me that only a company like Patagonia can win respect from its workers and customers, and put down roots in society. The brand’s famous advertisement telling readers to not buy new Patagonia products offers insight into the thoughts of the brand, which barely engages in advertising anyway.
At a glance, Patagonia’s philosophy seems anti-profit, but it also makes us realize how strong, and how precise, the business fundamentals behind the company’s success must be. Chouinard spends one whole chapter of his book on his financial philosophy. He says we need to recognize that there is an elaborate and invisible management system behind every company engaged in social responsibility activities.
By visiting founder Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia at the place where they work beside a Ventura beach, we could see that they are actually practicing the philosophy B’s staff and I had felt from a distance. The things we saw there—the employees closing up the office to surf when the waves are good, the day care center as large as the Patagonia offices—convinced us that what Patagonia offered its employees went beyond simple corporate benefits to fulfill the philosophy behind Patagonia’s foundation. To see second-generation employees, who are working with pride at the place where their parents used to, gives a sense of pure, impassioned strength that cannot be felt from profit-oriented companies. I hope that energy can be felt through this issue of B.
I kept thinking about a conversation I had with the Editor in Chief as we finished this issue. With most sports, you can choose the time and the place, but with surfing you have to wait until the waves are good. I think you can say the same thing about running a business. Now I am going to put everything down and go ride the waves when the good ones come.
Comments and views about Patagonia on websites and in social media
Patagonia’s products consist of outdoor clothing and gear, food, and publications
The quintessence of Patagonia as revealed in the brand’s products
Into the HQ
Ventura, the birthplace of Patagonia, shares some resemblance with the brand
Matt Stoecker, environmentalist
Patagonia seen from the perspective of its partners
Patagonia adds value to its products through the spirit of recycling
Bellinda Baggs and Adam Kobayashi, professional surfers
The consumption trends, lifestyles, and values of Patagonia users and supporters
Masamichi Toyama, President of Smiles, parent company of Pass the Baton
Brand to Brand
Other brands sharing Patagonia’s philosophy are frequently used by Patagonia lovers
Other brands influenced by Patagonia, or sharing Patagonia’s philosophy
The breath of nature in Patagonia products
The Patagonia story has unfolded under founder Yvon Chouinard’s philosophy of cherishing nature
Everyday scenes from the Patagonia campus
Interviews with employees from different departments provide a broad understanding of the brand
Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia
20 Million & Change
20 Million & Change, an investment fund for ventures promoting social and environmental values
Major CSR activities conducted by Patagonia to benefit the environment and society
A discourse with Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia
The results achieved by Patagonia’s diverse CSR activities
From the Editor in Chief
The Editor in Chief offers his observations on Patagonia’s core values.
- Suyong Joh
- Editor In Chief
- Taehyuk Choi
- Senior Editor
- Eunsung Park
- Yunseong Jang, Bora Nam
- Translation Editor
- Heejean Kim
- Hyunkyung Yoo, Rancy Kim, Seongae Yang, Soonok Hwang
- Copy Editing
- Eugene Larsen-Hallok
- Simon Chan
- Lead Designer
- Younghyun Ok
- Ayoon Jung
- Film Designer
- Sukwang Baak
- Nohseon Song
- Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Jungho Lee (New York), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
- JOH & Company
- Printed in the Republic of Korea
- 978-89-98415-78-5 03050
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
- The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years
- Cultural Strategy: Using Innovative Ideologies to Build Breakthrough Brands
- UNEXPECTED: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography
- No Bad Waves: Talking Story with Mickey Muñoz
- Patagonia YouTube Account