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Patagonia to take back used clothes and give store credit

If one has an old Patagonia jacket or sweater, the company is ready to take it back. In a new take-back program that will launch in April, the company will begin offering store credit for used but still usable clothing.

At its repair facility in Reno, California, the largest garment repair center in North America, Patagonia will wash used clothes with a new waterless technology that would help restore the fabric and then make needed repairs. The refurbished garment will be sold on Patagonia's website. The company has long offered repairs if a shirt one bought in 1983 tears in 2017, they'll fix it (for a meagre fee). Promoting reuse between customers was a logical next step in line with the company's aim to limit environmental harm.

The company may sell fewer new clothes if refurbished versions are available a click away. But Patagonia isn't concerned about losing profit. In 2011, when it famously ran a Black Friday ad that said ‘Don't Buy This Jacket’ along with details about the environmental impact of a particular jacket, and an essay about the challenges of consumption, it didn't hurt its sales.

When the company initially asked customers to buy less in 2011, it experimented with various programs, including a partnership to help people resell old Patagonia clothing on eBay. At the time, the company launched a new program called ‘Common Threads’, which promoted four ‘Rs’ viz recycling, reusing, repairing, and reducing consumption.

Notably, H&M also collects old clothing and though some of it is resold in the second hand market, the company is particularly interested in recycling. While recycled fibers are now typically used for lower-grade products such as insulation, H&M is supporting the development of more advanced recycling techniques that can reuse fibers in new clothes.