If you’ve ever spotted a young American banker in the wild, you’ll be familiar with the traditional markings of the male of the species – the well-coiffed hair, the button-down shirt, and the vest that screams “I spend my weekends outdoors.” The popular ensemble, however, is facing an existential threat.
Patagonia, the American outdoor company whose fleece vests are among finance and tech bros’ favorite swag, is becoming more selective about who gets its gear.
Photograph: Douglas C Pizac/AP
Its corporate sales program, which manages sales to other companies, not-for-profits and organizations, has recently shifted its focus to increase the number of “mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet”, the company said in a statement. This includes B Corporations, which must meet certain social and environmental standards.
The fallout has already begun. Binna Kim, a communications consultant who works with financial firms, tweeted on Monday that Patagonia had said they were no longer doing branded vests for financial services companies. “This is going to cause a #fintech crisis,” she tweeted.
Kim had tried to order Patagonia vests with a client’s logo, she told the San Francisco Chronicle, but the supplier rejected her order.
In an email she shared on Twitter, the third-party supplier said Patagonia was “reluctant to co-brand” with fossil fuel firms and other organizations it views as “ecologically damaging”.
Patagonia’s corporate sales catalog, meanwhile, now comes with a warning: “For each order, we require disclosure as to the type of company whose name will appear on the Patagonia product and how the product will be used. We reserve the right to refuse service.”
Is this the end of an era? The death of Instagram accounts like midtownuniform, which documents fleece-vest-wearers in Manhattan? The dawn of a Silicon Valley wardrobe overhaul?
Not necessarily: some tech and finance firms, including Kickstarter and New York’s Amalgamated Bank, are B Corporations. And Patagonia says it will continue to serve existing corporate clients.
Still, it marks Patagonia’s latest move to live out its mission: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Along with The North Face, Patagonia is one of several outdoor brands that has fought to save America’s threatened public lands. Last year, its website starkly warned visitors: “The President Stole Your Land.”