One of the outdoor industry’s most recognised and well-loved brands, Patagonia, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! Cue the eco-glitter and recycled birthday banner.


What started out as an experiment by a self-taught blacksmith to prove that businesses can be both responsible and successful, is now one of the most recognisable brands in the world – and not just for its products, but for its purpose of prioritising the planet over profit. 

Over the last 50 years, Patagonia has been a leader of change in business, using its voice and power wherever it can to make forward-thinking changes in the industry, while also amplifying local voices tackling environmental issues the world over. 



So to celebrate 50 years of planet over profits, here are ten pivotal moments in Patagonia’s history of business as unusual;


1. When Patagonia changed its business model to protect granite mountains by switching from pitons to chocks for alpine climbing.

2. Giving the company’s first environmental grant to a non-for-profit that helped save a local surf break. In turn, this led Patagonia to give away 1% of its annual sales in 1985, and go on to co-found ‘1% For the Planet’ in 2002.


3. When Patagonia switched from using conventional cotton to organic cotton after the discovery that the chemicals used on the fibres, like formaldehyde, were making employees sick.


4. That time Patagonia ran a ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’ ad in the New York Times on Black Friday to address the issue of consumerism head on. 


5. When the company became the first B Corporation in California

6. The establishment of Patagonia Provisions.


7. The time Patagonia donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental non-for-profits.


8. When Patagonia teamed up with Native American and grassroots groups to sue the Trump administration over its proclamation to significantly reduce the protection of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


9. When Patagonia changed its company-wide mission to ‘We are in business to save our home planet’.


10. And just last year, when Patagonia completely flipped the capitalism script and changed its ownership model, declaring Earth its only shareholder.


Photo by Campbell Brewer


Not a bad looking track record at all.

So what’s on the cards for the next 50 years? Well, the Patagonia team have a hell of a lot of hard questions they’re planning on answering too. 

Like, can capitalism evolve? What does quality capitalism look like? How can we better rally our community to address the root causes of the climate and ecological crisis? Who are the unexpected partners that will join along the way?

With a relentless focus on quality in all aspects of its work, and more collaboration than competition, Patagonia is shooting for the moon, while keeping its feet and heart solidly on Earth. 

Happy birthday Patagonia! Here’s to flipping the script and pushing the limits, over and over again. 


Feature photo by Andy Earl