Patagonia and B-Corps

If you’ve been outside on a cold day at Bucknell, you are familiar with the Patagonia brand. Their high quality, high performance, and fashionable winter-wear has made the company a global leader in the outdoor apparel industry. Shockingly, Patagonia has been able to achieve such distinction despite its certification as a benefit corporation or, B-Corporation. This means that that it is committed to using its power as a corporation to benefit the environment. A short video on B-Corps can be seen below:

In my own mind, this commitment legitimizes Patagonia in the minds of consumers. It strengthens a trust that is vital to Patagonia’s success. If I, as a consumer, know that paying an extra few dollars for a winter jacket ensures that they will be spent responsibly (or even donated to grassroots organizations), I am far more likely to do so and will certainly feel better about my decision. A huge part of this trust is Patagonia’s transparency. Jill Dumain, Patagonia’s director of environmental strategy, says her most common response from consumers with regard to their publicly available supply chain information is “I trust what you tell me on the good, because you’re willing to tell me about the bad” (NY Times). Surely this relationship is at least partially responsible for Patagonia’s chart-topping brand loyalty.

One of the most recent initiatives that Patagonia has taken on is the mission to ensure that their products all use 100% Traceable Down.   After critics questioned their supply chain ethics, they have worked hard over the past few years not just to convert their old practices into new sustainable ones, but to encourage other industry leaders to do the same. You can read more about traceable down here or watch the short video below:

By staying true to their mission, they are also able to gain an advantage in the market.   This is what Patagonia does so well.   After watching the video, how does this initiative make you feel? Is Patagonia making good on their promise to contribute to environmental issues? Does it deserve B-Corp certification?

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6 thoughts on “Patagonia and B-Corps”

  1. I think the majority of Bucknell students have some sort of Patagonia wear. But I also think that only a minority of those students know what Patagonia is all about. I would be curious to know why students chose Patagonia over other companies. It would also be interesting to see if Patagonia would be where they are now without their commitment to transparency and the environment. What would be different and would Patagonia be as successful as it is today?


  2. One of the fascinating aspects of Patagonia is it is recreating its own supply chains instead of simply relying on what is there. That speaks to long term planning.


  3. Love the informational video on B-corps! I think that B-corps are better able to actively manage using stakeholder value maximization theory as opposed to shareholder value maximization theory, which is a good thing in my book.


  4. I like how the video takes the skier as duck or goose or whatever, implying connection as the Patagonia customer is in that role, and shows it how fowl (har) the sources of down are.


  5. An ethical perspective is deontology and adding the rights of animals or ecosystems to something a firm can care for.

    You can also work with Donaldson’s ideas of affordability as part of minimal or maximal duties. You could track down more of his work or people who cite him.

    For policy perspectives, some could include how to encourage/regulate supply chains, how certification works (or doesn’t Are we getting to certification saturation?), b-corps certification or benefit corp laws as a solution to encouraging ethical business. You could also look at how the winter sports industries are dealing with climate change.

    Also, more out there, but I am always interested in pricing and sustainability. Like, if I buy a Patagonia jacket that lasts for 20 years, I may pay more now, but less over the lifetime of the jacket compared to buying four lower quality/cost ones. If that is Patagonia’s business model, how does it get consumers to buy in to this longer-term relationship? Do fashion trends work against longer-term apparel ownership? Would rental models (like zipcar) be a solution?


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