Patagonia's Worn Wear: Doing good while scoring gear

Keep good gear in circulation and upgrade your kit by trading in your “experienced” Patagonia stuff for credit.
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Turn your old gear into cash.

Turn your old gear into cash.

For a college student like me, new Pata-gucci gear is rarely in the budget. Let’s face it: The stuff is expensive. It’s an investment. That’s why I was intrigued by the brand’s new Worn Wear store, which not only lets me find good, used stuff at cut-rate prices, it encourages me to up-cycle the lime green shirt that I bought on a whim and don’t ever wear, and actually walk away with cash in my pocket that I can use towards my next purchase. (I know there’s someone out there that looks good in this color.)

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I headed to the Pearl Street Patagonia store in Boulder, Colorado, armed with a beat-up orange puffy jacket and that gently-used lime green hiking shirt.

I was not alone. There were about a dozen others like me, all hopefully waiting in line clutching all manner of Patagonia garments.

This jacket didn't make the cut (note the duct take near the cuff of the right sleeve).

This jacket didn't make the cut (note the duct take near the cuff of the right sleeve).

“Right away, I’m going to have to say ‘no’ to the jacket,” the cashier said, pointing to the earnest duct tape patch on the right sleeve. While the Worn Wear program started as a repair initiative, the Worn Wear website only accepts in-tact gear, as all items in the store still fall under Patagonia’s Ironclad guarantee.

I scored on “Limey” though. After a quick inspection, he tossed the shirt into an overflowing box of accepted items, and handed me a Worn Wear card for $20. A store floor lead explained that they typically offer back 20 to 50 percent of an item’s original value. He said my shirt would most likely be sold for $40 on the Worn Wear website.

This shirt earned our reporter $20 in Patagonia credit.

This shirt earned our reporter $20 in Patagonia credit.

The greater good

The program is part of Patagonia’s effort to address the global apparel market’s effects on climate change. In an email sent last week, the company explained that “as individuals, the single best thing we can do for the planet is keep our stuff in use longer and reduce our overall consumption in the process.”

Customers can drop off their brand gear at any Patagonia retail store, where employees will inspect to make sure it is clean and in good repair. If the item is accepted, it is then cleaned and posted on the site. The customer then receives credit towards any new or used Patagonia item, ranging from $15 for kids’ and baby sportswear to $100 for jackets and parkas.

This gear is destined for a second life.

This gear is destined for a second life.

Since the launch of the Worn Wear online store, the cashier told me that the store has gotten an incredible response from customers. Just in the past week, the store has filled three big boxes of gear, with one woman bringing in a record of 26 items. The most popular gear donated includes lifestyle apparel, summer styles, jackets, ski shells and vintage fleeces.

The online store is the newest addition to the company’s Worn Wear program, founded in 2013 to encourage and educate people how to care for their gear so to keep it usable for as long as possible. In spring of 2015, the company set off on its Mobile Worn Wear Tour, traveling around the country offering free repairs, teaching people how to fix their own gear and selling used Patagonia items to raise awareness about the program.

So dig deep into that closet and give new life to your old favorites. 

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