40 Years of Patagonia

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, California-based outdoor clothing brand Patagonia have released The Legacy collection. A collection that solely takes inspiration from Patagonia’s iconic pieces located in their archives. Down jackets, fleece vests, multi-paneled rock-climbing pants, and element-repelling outerwear which made Patagonia the well-known brand it is today are being reproduced in their original styles. Photographed by Foster Huntington, the lookbook created for the collection shows Foster’s friend Trevor, with whom the photographer took a trip in a 1991 Jeep Comanche, which Trevor bought, all the way from Fort Collins in Colorado back to California dressed in different pieces of the collection.

The start of the brand Patagonia lies ahead of its establishment at the moment when founder Yvon Chouinard got his start as a climber in 1953 as a 14-year-old member of the Southern California Falconry Club. A club that trained hawks and falcons for hunting. After one of the adult leaders taught the boys how to rappel down the cliffs to the falcon aeries, Yvon and his friends became so fond of the sport they started hopping freight trains to the west end of the San Fernando Valley to practise it there.

In this area, eventually, they learned to climb up as well as rappel down the rock. After starting with producing climbing gear and slowly expanding his premature business from 1957, Chouinard went into partnership with Tom Frost in 1965. Frost was an aeronautical engineer as well as a climber, and had a keen sense of design and aesthetics. During the nine years that Frost and Chouinard were partners, they redesigned and improved almost every climbing tool, to make them stronger, lighter, simpler, and more functional. They would return from every trip to the mountains with new ideas for improving existing tools.

Their guiding design principle came from Antoine de Saint Exupéry, the French aviator:

Have you ever thought, not only about the airplane but whatever man builds, that all of man’s industrial efforts, all his computations and calculations, all the nights spent working over draughts and blueprints, invariably culminate in the production of a thing whose sole and guiding principle is the ultimate principle of simplicity?

“It is as if there were a natural law which ordained that to achieve this end, to refine the curve of a piece of furniture, or a ship’s keel, or the fuselage of an airplane, until gradually it partakes of the elementary purity of the curve of the human breast or shoulder, there must be experimentation of several generations of craftsmen. In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.” 

Thirty years have passed since the Patagonia label first appeared, and the brand keeps it’s heritage in the highest esteem. As they state themselves, mistakes were made over the years, but the original path that was set out by Chouinard and Frost never lost. The founding goal to free themselves from the limitations of the original climbing business, were precisely the limitations that have kept the brand on their toes and turned out the fundament for innovations within the brand which took place as more and more high technology elements and eventually a clear ecological vision became part of the products that were released under the Patagonia brand ever since.

We love the story of Patagonia and the great photographs of Huntington’s trip with Trevor using the iconic Patagonia gear what it is made for. See and order The Legacy collection online here.
And we’ve just got the message that Foster Huntington is starting a kickstarter project for his new book Vanlife. Stay tuned on that!