“Even the simplest wicker basket can become priceless when it is loved and cared for through the generations of a family.”
- Sister Parish
I had the opportunity to visit all the folks at Patagonia yesterday. What an amazing group of people, an amazing place, and an amazing company. From the ladies in the sewing room to their organic cafeteria, I was floored at the knowledge, care and passion that infuse their lives.
Patagonia has long been an inspiration to me because 1) it grew from an artisan/hand work base 2) they make clothes to fit the body, not clothes that you have to fit your body to 3) they make products that are designed to stand the test of time and don’t forget the fact that you can also climb mountains and swim seas in the things they make.
And aside from the fact that it is a GREAT company from the product side, it is even more outstanding from a perspective of social and ecological responsibility. The first things you see as you pull into their parking lot are the solar panels that run the offices and the playground for the daycare center.
Their mission statement could be a guideline for life:
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
The book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman gives a really beautiful vision of where they came from and where they are going.
Be sure to visit the Footprint Chronicles to have a very serious look at manufacturing processes.
Thanks to Treehugger for sharing this editorial in today’s New York Times.
A must-read for everyone in or simply interested in the fashion industry. Dana Thomas traces the amazing origins of luxury from the mid–nineteenth century to today. Straight forward and fascinating look through the walls of a closed industry.
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster
Built to Last by by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras is one of the very first business books I ever read. I sat down at my desk one morning and got up when I finished reading. It was at a time when I was thinking about how to turn a “project” into the kind of business I would like to own and run. It inspired me to read that often times, making the right decision for a business is about making the right choices in life.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Jim Collins also wrote another inspiring book about how to grow a business:
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
Our work in Alabama began with a T-shirt. Pietra Rivoli does an amazing job of defining the role this modest piece of clothing plays in today’s global economy:
And you can further explore the role of cotton in these books by Stephen Yafa:
Big Cotton: How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America on the Map
As I recently learned at the Textiles Futures Salon2, there is still a long way to go to understand the materials that we use and consume. We have been using organic cotton for the last year and plan to make the switch to 100% Organic by the spring of next year. And although this is just a small part of the picture, it is a good place to start.
Here are a few places to get started learning about the true cost of cotton:
White Gold – The True Cost of Cotton
A Report by the Environmental Justice Foundation
Green Basics: Organic Cotton
This is a great volume about the variety of hand works that are being created today by a wide range of artists and artisans. The images are fantastic and each page makes me want to get started on a new project.
Get your copy here: By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art
Historical Fashion in Detail is another great source of inspiration for all of our hand work. The photographs are beautiful, detailed and a reminder of a time when articles of clothing were truly works of art.
Get your copy here.