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’TIS THE SEASON

The perfect political holiday gift: a Patagonia fleece

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 11: A person looks at a Patagonia jacket at the 2017 Outdoor Retailers Show, Winter Market, January 11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Patagonia, a major retailer at the show, announced February 7, 2017 their withdrawal from the show in Salt Lake City in response to a resolution passed last week by the Utah State legislature and signed by Governor Gary Herbert, calling on the Trump administration to challenge the Bear Ears National Monument designated by former President Barack Obama. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Getty Images/George Frey
Wouldn't you love to see that Trump supporter in your family in one of these?
  • Marc Bain
By Marc Bain

Fashion reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

If you’re a sentient human in the US right now, there are two things that feel inescapable: politics and the holidays. Why not let the former make your shopping decisions for the latter a little bit easier this year?

Consider the item that has become Patagonia’s signature, the fleece. Liberals can give the iconic garment by the famously progressive company—known for its environmentalism and its excellent child care—to fellow outdoor-loving liberals. Conservatives can use it to reach across the aisle to left-leaning friends and family. And a cozy fleece is the perfect passive-aggressive present for the Trump supporter on your Christmas list.

That’s because Patagonia has emerged as one of the biggest and most vocal clothing brands of the Trump resistance. And its anti-Trump stance seems to be resonating with customers: The brand enjoyed a big sales bump after a recent public spat with the administration.

Sales of Patagonia surged to six times their typical level on Tuesday, Dec. 5, GQ reports, citing Slice Intelligence, which tracks online purchases in the US. That’s the day after Patagonia took a bold step against the Trump administration: It emblazoned the words, “The President Stole Your Land” across the top of its website, and posted a statement to social media lambasting Trump for drastically cutting back protected lands at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Last week, Patagonia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in an attempt to block the cuts.

Slice compared sales the day after Patagonia’s statement to sales on Nov. 1, when no external factors such as Black Friday or other Patagonia-Trump news would have had an effect. (Slice doesn’t have sales figures from Patagonia itself, but from its retail partners.) Sales stayed unusually high the whole week, in fact, remaining at least five times greater that Wednesday and Thursday as well, GQ reports. Even compared to the week just before the statement, which included Cyber Monday, sales were 7% greater.

Patagonia has been at the forefront of a group of outdoor brands, including The North Face, bashing the Trump administration’s cuts to national monuments. Combined, those cuts remove protections from more than 2 million acres that are home to stunning natural landscapes and ancient sites deemed sacred by local Native American tribes. They’re now open to drilling and development for oil and gas, coal mining, and more.

Patagonia’s public attack drew an angry reply (paywall) from the House Natural Resources Committee, which posted its own statement a few days later. It accused Patagonia of using the issue to “sell more products to wealthy elitist urban dwellers from New York to San Francisco.”

There’s no indication that Patagonia had any financial motive, even if it is known as a shrewd marketer. In a statement, Patagonia called the House Natural Resources Committee’s criticism and suggestion that people shouldn’t buy Patagonia “obviously inappropriate.” It added that the response it has seen from its own customers has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“This isn’t surprising because our customers, like us, want to see public lands and waters protected,” said Corley Kenna, a Patagonia spokesperson.

The brand has developed a loyal following in part because of its willingness to speak out on environmental and other issues. In the current US political climate, when even footwear has become politicized, customers demand to know what a brand’s values are. Patagonia is leaving no doubt about where it stands.

This story has been updated with a statement from Patagonia.

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