April 30, 2019
If you want to be recognized as a Silicon Valley-style techie, you shouldn’t leave the house without two compulsory wardrobe elements: The first is a pair of Allbirds sneakers. And the second unifying symbol that binds together all self-styled masters of the universe is the Patagonia Nano Puff vest with an embroidered corporate logo (also know as the Power Vest, according to BuzzFeed News).
In fact, the Power Vest has become as ubiquitous as Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck used to be before Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was “defrocked” last year.
But, now, Buzzfeed reports, Patagonia is taking steps to ensure that the Power Vest sartorial trend is restricted to techies, alone. A policy change at Patagonia will effectively exclude certain “undeserving” clients.
The company is getting selective—telling BuzzFeed early in April that it will focus on selling the much-in-demand vests to do-gooder B Corporations ( companies that have committed to supporting causes like “community” or “the environment”). According to the news outlet, “All those evil hedge funds and “Uber-for-X” tech startups can go pound sand.”
“While I think new fintech startups are going to be devastated if they can’t get co-branded Patagonia vests, I’m not too surprised that Patagonia is taking a closer look at how their brand is being used, and probably trying to not let Patagonia be synonymous with the ‘finance bro,’” said financial services communications consultant Binna Kim, who first noticed the change.
Kim, who is president of the communications agency Vested (the reference is to the finance term, not the sleeveless layer), attempted to place an order for a client—something her firm had done in the past through a reseller for Patagonia’s corporate sales.
But, Buzzfeed reports, instead, she got back a rejection email from the reseller saying, “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. While they have co-branded here in the past, the brand is really focused right now on only co-branding with a small collection of like-minded and brand aligned areas; outdoor sports that are relevant to the gear we design, regenerative organic farming, and environmental activism.”
Patagonia, the person said, is “reluctant to co-brand with oil, drilling, dam construction, etc. companies that they view to be ecologically damaging” and while orders are approved on a case-by-case basis, this includes “financial institutions.”
A representative for Patagonia confirmed to the online news outlet that the company recently has changed its policy, but declined to say exactly when this change happened.
Here is the company’s statement: “Our corporate sales program manages Patagonia’s sales to other companies, non-profits and other organizations. 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. This shift does not affect current customers in our corporate sales program.”
Research contact: @patagonia