Patagonia is back.

Almost two years after announcing it would no longer authorize the addition of brand logos on its products, the popular outdoor apparel retailer has shifted course. Beginning this spring it will allow limited brand embroidery off of the front of its garments, such as on the arm or beneath the neck.

Riverside, Rhode Island-headquartered Driving Impressions (PPAI 355347, S4) is the supplier of Patagonia products to corporate markets and the promotional products industry. It first announced the retailer’s shifting course in an email to distributor clients on Thursday.

“The reason [Patagonia] made this decision is that they have developed new solutions to either remove, repair, or repurpose embroidered Patagonia products, to better extend their usable lifespan, and to keep them out of the landfill. This program will be offered on a limited basis,” the email stated.

A Complicated Relationship

Famously vocal about its planet-first mission, Patagonia has long had an uneasiness doing business in the promotional products marketplace.

  • In 2018, it briefly took the stance of only allowing B Corporations to co-brand its products. That quickly changed, and Patagonia instructed brands to only decorate the sleeve or back of the garment. 
  • By 2019, Patagonia’s corporate sales catalog noted, “For each order, we require disclosure as to the type of company whose name will appear on the Patagonia product and how the product will be used.”
  • In April 2021, the company stated “Patagonia respects the power of all company logos. Every organization, business and group we work with is doing its own part to improve our planet’s future, and those efforts endow each logo with a very worthy set of values. We’ve also found that adding a logo to any Patagonia product significantly shortens its lifespan – specifically, by limiting its use to business hours or a person’s tenure at a single company or organization.”

Not Gone Completely

After Patagonia banned on-garment logos, Driving Impressions continued to provide blank apparel to distributors providing that Patagonia approved the client and project.

  • Removal decoration options, such as logoed zipper pulls, woven hem tags and patches, were offered by Driving Impressions and will remain as options.
  • The new requirements move Patagonia closer to its stance before the spring of 2021. Projects will continue to be accepted on a per-order basis, with Patagonia reserving the right to approve.

What Next?

Driving Impressions’ email to clients says that “In the coming months, Patagonia will begin to accept qualified styles into their Worn Wear program that have logos added to them. Customers will be issued store credit. Items with logos will need to be altered, so the price you will be offered is different from standard pricing. The anticipated launch for this program is Spring 2023.”

  • The supplier suggests submitting the end buyer and its website for pre-approval before pitching the Patagonia brand to any customer.

Industry Reaction

Because of Patagonia’s quality products and sustainability story, it remains popular with many end buyers.

“Clients want it because their brand message is something that companies want to associate with,” says Scott Boyages, CAS, a Geiger distributor in Massachusetts. “I think a lot of Patagonia product will be sold through our industry moving forward. I don’t think the imprint location will make too much of a difference.”

In the two years since Patagonia pulled back from the promo industry, distributors have no doubt found other options for well-made outdoor apparel.

Boyages says, “It’s not my favorite brand to sell, that’s for sure. Too many hoops to jump through.”