Patagonia has scaled the peak of the outdoor apparel and accessories business. The company designs and markets rugged clothing and accessories to mountain climbers, skiers, surfers, and other extreme sports enthusiasts and environmentalists who are willing to pay for the Patagonia brand and its environmental ethic. Besides its signature Patagonia line (for outdoor gear and apparel), the company also sells items from sister companies Lotus Designs (paddling gear), Water Girl (women's sportswear), and Great Pacific Iron Works (retails outdoor gear and apparel). Patagonia, owned by Lost Arrow Corporation, sells these items, as well as luggage, through specialty retailers, a catalog, website, and its own stores.
Patagonia has more than 50 retail stores in the US, Europe, and Asia (mostly Japan and Korea).
Only organic cotton is used in its apparel and its Synchilla fleece is made from recycled soda bottles. A company goal is to make 100% recyclable, landfill-free products by 2015. Patagonia has managed to make it to 70%, continually increasing its eco-friendly ways.
As concerned with the environment as with the bottom line, the company donates 1% of sales to green causes and maintains The Footprint Chronicles, an interactive website that tracks the environmental and social impact of Patagonia garments. In a bid to be a good corporate citizen, the company offers its employees childcare, yoga classes, and other perks, including free surfing lessons. The company has repeatedly appeared on the Working Mother magazine list of the 100 best companies for working mothers; its onsite childcare provisions have been in place since 1984.
Patagonia was able to ride out the recession, in part, by making some sacrifices of its own. It was forced in 2009 to freeze employee hiring and salary increases. The company also temporarily suspended its 401(k) discretionary match. (The moves were potentially detrimental for the company, which has received accolades in the human resources realm.) The eco-company in 2010 retroactively reinstated its employee raises for the year while it also reinstated its 401(k) match and lifted its hiring freeze. – less