When Patagonia's revamped Torrentshell 3L line of waterproof/breathable jackets debuts at retail in Spring 2020, the industry will see not just a new benchmark in durable rain protection, but also the resumption of a long-standing partnership between Toray and Patagonia.
Throughout the 90s, Patagonia was one of the largest volume customers for Toray's waterproof/breathable Entrant technology, marketed and sold by Patagonia under their H2No Performance Standard.
Market demand for lighter weight, 2.5-layer fabrics led to a decline in the Entrant/Patagonia business in the early 2000s, although Toray continued to supply fabric for innovative new products like Patagonia’s Nano-Air, establishing ‘Active Insulation’ as a product category in the industry.
The 2020 Torrentshell 3L line has returned to its far more comfortable and durable 3-layer roots, with a new hydrophobic membrane, custom-designed for Patagonia by Toray to be more durably long-lasting than most rainwear membranes on the market. The new fabric has 100% recycled face fabric – derived from both post-industrial and post-consumer sources - and according to Patagonia's own testing, is more durably waterproof than its predecessor. In keeping with another Patagonia priority the new Torrentshell line is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.
"Never Gets Old" is Patagonia's tag line for the new generation of Torrentshell, which addresses the sustainability issue on two fronts: by using 100% recycled face fabrics and by a design commitment from both Toray and Patagonia to build durable rainwear that can last customers a lifetime or longer.
Ironically, many of the market forces that brought Toray and Patagonia back together in 2020 were driven by Patagonia itself:
- The industry, led by Patagonia, was pushing hard for greater use of sustainable and recycled fabrics. While recycled fabrics offer the same end-user performance, they are more difficult to weave. Toray was one of the few manufacturers who could manage it.
- The desire for a more durable and long-lasting membrane to extend the life and performance of the rainwear that Patagonia’s customers expect given their reputation for high-quality, lasting products backed by an ironclad guarantee
"Toray takes a great deal of pride in our ability to develop custom fabrics to meet our customer's needs.", says Kentaro Hara, Toray International America's Executive Vice President and GM of the Fiber and Textile Division. "Unlike many textile companies, we manufacture and test our fabrics in our own global network of factories. This enables us to make improvements and modifications more quickly. Toray's goal is always to be a partner instead of just a vendor."
"Toray and Patagonia have worked together on many successful projects over the years", says Kristo Torgersen, Patagonia's Global Product Director, "and the new Torrentshell 3L program is another benchmark of how aligning our partnership and focus on innovations that reduce our environmental footprint while improving performance can grow our brands and businesses together."
2020 will be an exciting year for the renewed Toray/Patagonia relationship, as the new Torrentshell 3L is the first of several Patagonia product initiatives to be designed and built with custom Toray fabrics.