It’s a point of pride for outdoor enthusiasts to find a cool vintage Patagonia fleece at a thrift store. Now, there’s an entire store for that. Last week, Patagonia opened its first Worn Wear shop in Boulder, Colorado. The pop-up took over the location of the old Patagonia store at 1212 Pearl Street (the store was recently relocated). It will be open through February 2020, offering thrifty and environmentally conscious Boulderites a chance to browse gently-used used and remade apparel, backpacks, bags, and sleeping bags in person. The pop-up will also host repair and upcycling workshops, like a sashiko mending class that teaches functional and decorative stitching techniques.
The Worn Wear online shop was born in 2017 as an outgrowth of Patagonia’s traveling repair workshop. The program allows consumers to trade in their used Patagonia apparel and equipment via mail or in stores for credit. The items are inspected and cleaned before being resold online. This program has been profitable for the brand, with more than 120,000 units sold in the past two years.
In addition to used gear, the pop-up will be offering products from their ReCrafted Collection, launched last week. Since 2005, Patagonia has been collecting items that can’t be repaired, resold, or recycled. It is turning these pieces into scraps to build new bags, jackets, and vests. ReCrafted products are made from parts of up to six different garments, and the one-of-a-kind patchwork comes at a price—ReCrafted Down Vests go for $257, about $80 more than comparable new offerings from the brand. With a limited run of 10,000 units, the brand claims this is the industry’s largest upcycling project.
Both lines are part of the Patagonia’s circular economy efforts. The brand aims to be carbon neutral or carbon positive across its entire supply chain and only use renewable or regenerative resources in their products by 2025. The new ReCrafted items aren’t without a carbon footprint: there are environmental impacts to the processing, cleaning, manufacturing, and shipping of used or upcycled products. But they do have a smaller impact than products made from virgin materials, the brand says.
Used and refurbished outdoor apparel has been popping up from major brands more and more over the last several years. REI has long hosted member-only Garage Sales, and introduced its own gently used resale program in 2017. The North Face followed in 2018 with their Renewed program, selling refurbished returns and factory rejects at a discount. To run this side of its business, The North Face works with Renewal Workshop, a small factory in Oregon dedicated to collecting, fixing, and reselling gear for outdoor brands that don’t have their own in-house program, including Icebreaker, Prana, Timbuk2, Pearl Izumi, and Toad & Co.
The recommerce market as a whole is expected to more than double by 2023, and is particularly popular with younger generations, according to ThredUp’s 2019 Resale Report. As direct-to-consumer models continue to threaten physical retail, recommerce is an area of potential growth that’s particularly well-suited to in-person sales: shopping from home is convenient, but real-life browsing makes a big difference when assessing a used product’s quality before swiping your card.
For the time being, Worn Wear and ReCrafted are only available online and in the Boulder shop. Patagonia doesn’t have any other pop-ups planned at this time, but Phil Graves, the brand’s head of corporate development, said on Colorado Public Radio that it is an experiment that may lead to other similar installations in the future.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the existence of limited Worn Wear sections at Patagonia retail locations. The story has been updated to reflect that there are currently no Patagonia retail locations with Worn Wear sections. Outside regrets the error.