Patagonia CEO commits to sustainability in the face of fashion greenwashing

Yvon Chouinard may pave the way for more thoughtful clothing production

When the fashion world greenwashes, Patagonia soars.

California outdoor retailer, Patagonia, has announced a change in company leadership. 

Founder Yvon Chouinard is retiring after 50 years in the company and leaving it in the hands of two non-profits committed to environmental justice. The company has long-been a corporate supporter of the climate cause—sourcing ethical materials and donating 1 per cent of sales each year —but Chouinard knew this wasn’t enough. 

“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact,” Chouinard wrote in a statement on the Patagonia website.

Rather than selling the company and donating the money or taking it public, Chouinard chose to “go purpose” by using the company’s wealth to protect the environment. 

In the face of avid fashion greenwashing, the steps taken by the successful retailer exemplify the values that must be endorsed for the rest of the fashion world. 

The contemporary era of environmentalism has paved the way for consumers to be more conscious of the way they spend. As a result, various brands have adopted branding that glorifies their efforts for sustainability—the truth is far from the advertising, however. 

Whether it be establishing an eco-friendly line or using recycled packaging or other rather incremental changes within fast fashion conglomerates, all this is done under the guise of ignorance to the real impact such brands have on the environment. 

Boohoo, H&M, Shein, and ASOS are all examples of brands engaging in such marketing. They are also leading the influx of micro plastics, unethical labor, and short-lasting clothing. 

Shein, for example, has hired a Head of Sustainability, but this means very little when their business model is built entirely on the exploitation of resources and labor.  

ASOS released a “circular line” parading its future-proofing fashion. However, further research has revealed many of its products are made from plastic, and the line still only accounts for a sliver of massive clothing producer’s offerings. 

This trend ought not to simply be a trend of buzzwords partnered with lack of action, but rather meaningful transitions into clothing production better suiting the climate we live in. 

Sending off one’s company to non-profits is a massive undertaking that cannot be expected by all fashion corporations—Patagonia’s success positioned it to take a massive step in the name of environmentalism. However, meeting the cause halfway is certainly possible. 

Making a genuine effort to sustainably produce by using recycled materials, paying employees living wages, and producing clothing that will last longer than a few washes are all ways clothing producers can do better by the environment and, subsequently, their consumers.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.