LONDON — Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, who transferred his ownership of the company in September to two new entities – the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective – will be honored by the British Fashion Council with its Outstanding Achievement award at the Fashion Awards on Monday .
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, organizer of the annual fundraising show and London Fashion Week, said Chouinard is being honored as setting “a new precedent for responsible business”.
“By building a brand that consistently encourages its consumers to buy well and buy less, he has changed the consumer mindset on the apparel lifecycle and created an invaluable blueprint for a just transition within the apparel industry.” , he added.
While a Patagonia vest is considered a staple among Wall Street’s elite, the company has prioritized environmental conservation and restoration since 1985, when it began donating 1 percent of sales to environmental groups, distributing over $150 million in total.
Chouinard, who refuses to identify himself as a billionaire and prefers to be known as a mountaineer, activist, surfer, writer and philanthropist, also co-founded One Percent for the Planet, a movement that attracts more than 5,000 companies and individual members who unite to protect the earth.
He said that with 50 years of experience in responsible business, Patagonia is “very serious about tackling the environmental crisis.”
“We started by building quality, durable products and using materials that caused less harm to the environment and the people who make them. We’ve used 100% organic cotton throughout our line since 1996, are founding members of groups like the Fair Labor Association and the Regenerative Organic Alliance, and today offer more Fair Trade Certified stitched styles than any other apparel brand,” she said .
The recognition from the British Fashion Council, according to Chouinard, sends the message that “responsible business practices far outweigh trends or short-term financial gains.”
“With vision and creativity, the apparel industry is in the perfect position to set the standard for environmental protection – we hope business leaders will join us in this work,” he added.
The change in Patagonia’s corporate structure—”govern purpose” instead of “going public” and declaring that Terra is its sole shareholder—was considered a groundbreaking move.
The Patagonia Purpose Trust now owns all of the company’s voting stock, or 2 percent of the company’s total shares, and creates “a more permanent legal framework to enshrine Patagonia’s purpose and values.”
“It will help ensure there is never any deviation from the founder’s intent and facilitate what the company continues to do best: demonstrate as a for-profit business that capitalism can work for the planet,” the company said.
The Holdfast Collective owns the remaining 98 percent of the company and “will use every dollar Patagonia receives to protect nature and biodiversity, support thriving communities and fight the environmental crisis.”
Profits not reinvested in the company — about $100 million annually depending on the business — will be paid as a dividend to the collective.
Previous recipients of the Outstanding Award at the Fashion Awards include Giorgio Armani, Miuccia Prada, Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Manolo Blahnik.