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Patagonia suggests finance bros aren’t a fit for its fleece vests

A Patagonia logo is sewn on a backpack Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in New York. Patagonia, the outdoor gear company, is passing along the $10 million it saved from tax cuts to non-profit environmental groups. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
The brand stands alone.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Outdoor-clothing company Patagonia is as well-known for its environmental activism as for its popular fleece vests, which are so ubiquitous among guys in the finance industry they’ve become part of its unofficial uniform. There’s even an Instagram account, called @midtownuniform, dedicated to documenting the phenomenon.

But it has apparently decided being an outfitter of finance bros isn’t a great fit with its environmental goals or its image. Patagonia won’t be supplying any new corporate clients with co-branded products if it feels they aren’t ethically aligned with it, and much of the finance industry evidently doesn’t meet that standard. Instead, it’s trying to increase the share of its corporate partners that make environmentalism a top priority.

That’s not to say Patagonia vests branded with the names and logos of financial-services firms will be disappearing. Its existing corporate customers, it said, will not be affected. But it does serve as an example of the various ways businesses are making their social stances part of how they operate, and of how Patagonia in particular weaves its ethics into its business.

A communications firm for finance companies called Vested—the name refers to the investment term, not the garment—learned of the shift when it tried to place an order for a client through an authorized Patagonia retailer, its president and cofounder, Binna Kim, told Business Insider. The retailer, which is required to get Patagonia’s approval, said it couldn’t fill the order. Kim posted its reply to her on Twitter on April 1 (and then assured her followers it was not an April Fool’s joke).

“Patagonia has nothing against your client or the finance industry, it’s just not an area they are currently marketing through our co-brand division,” the reply said. It added that this is a “relatively new direction for the brand and this division, all coming through the lens of their new mission statement, ‘We’re in business to save our home planet’.” Patagonia, which updated its mission statement a few months ago, approves companies for its corporate sales program on a case-by-case basis, and is “reluctant to co-brand” with any company that is ecologically damaging.

We have reached out to Kim directly and will update this story with any reply.

In a statement, Patagonia said the corporate sales program in question manages Patagonia’s sales to other companies. “We recently shifted the focus of this program to increase the number of Certified B Corporations, 1% For The Planet members and other mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet,” it said. “This shift does not affect current customers in our corporate sales program.”

Any number of finance bros, and tech bros too, who want co-branded fleece vests for their new businesses will probably have to look elsewhere. Of course, they can still buy Patagonia vests and easily get their company names or logos embroidered on themselves.

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