This video is worth 27 minutes and 53 seconds of your time. It’s more than a story about a brand doing something differently. It’s the story of a way of being; a life with more.
At a time of year where we are bombarded with messaging about buying and needing to own the latest and greatest things, Patagonia has emerged as a grounding force for people who value quality and the things they already own.
The Worn Wear initiative is incredibly refreshing. The idea that you’re buying something for life is the way it should be. Telling stories and creating emotive narratives around objects isn’t a new idea but it’s a powerful one. We all have items of clothing that we don’t want to get rid of. Ones that have traveled with us, been there for big moments, ones that carry a sentimental value. We keep these things. We treasure these things.
There’s a Canadian Company called Mountain Equipment Co-operative. It’s a consumer co-operative set up in the early 70’s and it’s rather unique. In addition to their very democratic and fair business model, whereby anyone can become a $5 lifetime share holding member, all of their products have a lifetime warranty. They’re designed to last. I had the privilege of working there one summer about five years ago. I remember being in the store and watching customers come in with super old stuff, like a rucksacks from the 80’s or ski jackets in a shade of blue I’m certain isn’t used anymore. They would drop their broken or wore items at customer service and then MEC staff would ruffle through a ‘parts’ room and find a replacement parts or material to fix the product. It never mattered how old something was, or how broken it was, MEC would repair it.
We don’t need more new things. We need to love and celebrate our old things.
PS- I found this little note on MEC’s website, which I think is just amazing: “We’d like to thank our six original members for their vision, dedication, and overall righteousness: David Wingate, Roland Burton, Jim Byers, Rob Brusse, Sara Oliver, and Sara Golling. In the 40 years that they’ve been Co-op members, none of them has extracted personal profit from the business, their original shares are still worth $5, no one has sued anyone else, and they still get together for annual slide shows and potluck dinners”.