Here’s an excellent testimonial by Rain Noe over at Core77: The Sweater Stone, Patagonia, Product Longevity, and How to Keep Customers for Life.
I’ve liked this company ever since it started. It’s founder, Yvon Chouinard is both a historic figure in Yosemite climbing and world mountaineering, and a brilliant designer of outdoor gear. Years ago he spun off the hardware piece of Great Pacific Iron Works into Black Diamond and kept Patagonia, the clothing company.
He’s famous for closing down the office if the surf is particularly good in Ventura, California so he can “let my people go surfing.”
What I’ve noticed over many years of buying and using outdoor gear is that Patagonia comes up with innovative design ideas and other companies (North Face, LL Bean, REI, etc.) copy them. As a person who makes things, I try to make it a point to reward originators of ideas with my business, when I can.
Launching the “worn wear” campaign and attempting to make it “cool” to wear older, beat up stuff is another brilliant piece of design and marketing that’s as much about philosophy as it is about rewarding long term customers.