When you think of Patagonia, two things come immediately to mind. First, you think of performance – of apparel and essential accessories geared toward hard weather and hard terrain. And then, of course, you think of the planet; both as an extension of that first point, its entire reason for being, and because Patagonia as a company is constantly leading the way on Earth-protecting initiatives.
For example, if you’re wondering what that really means – which is fair enough in a climate of perpetual greenwashing – back at the end of 2022, Patagonia’s founder and his family transferred their $3 billion USD ownership of the label to a trust, ensuring that all profits (around $100 million USD every year) are used to combat climate change in some way. For context: this is not normal.
Patagonia’s latest move, then, is a combination of both facets of its personality. Working with all-weather apparel stalwarts GORE-TEX and with the material innovation company Bionic, the outdoor brand has delivered its warmest jacket to-date – the STORMSHADOW PARKA. More than this, though, it’s also “one of the most active in helping [Patagonia] to rely on cleaner, non-extractive materials,” prioritizing both function and environmental forward-thinking.
“The Stormshadow Parka represents what is possible when individual parties come together with a shared goal in mind, in this case, to drive and scale systematic change in textile and product creation. Our hope is that this parka acts as a catalyst to drive change, proving that high performing, durable products can be made socially responsible while using land & ocean waste diversion inputs with no forever chemistries.”
– Mark Little, Global Product Line Director – Men’s Life Outdoors, Patagonia
The jacket – which comes in “Black,” “New Navy,” and “Nouveau Green” colorways – is constructed from a 100% recycled GORE-TEX fabric and, more importantly, is the first in-market product to feature GORE-TEX and Bionic’s combined effort. Diving deeper into the material construction of the fabric, the GORE-TEX in question is made with “50% material from Bionic’s operations in Costa Rican coastal communities,” where the company collects and sorts ocean-bound plastics, before converting them to high-grade (and fully-traceable) textiles and polymers. Basically, it’s all-weather-wear made from all kinds of waste. Or, as the collaborating companies put it, “turning garbage into good.”
Interestingly, GORE-TEX and Patagonia aren’t Bionic’s only noteworthy collaborators: the material innovator also has Pharrell Williams – yes, that Pharrell Williams – at the design helm, creating connections and getting the message across, serving as the outfit’s Creative Director since 2014.
In terms of the granular specifics, the STORMSHADOW PARKA’s shell is constructed from “2-layer, 4.6-oz 75-denier GORE-TEX 100% recycled polyester plain-weave face fabric partially made from BIONIC® recycled coastal and marine plastic sourced in Costa Rica,” and the lining is “2-oz 100% polyester (70% recycled) stretch taffeta” – both of which PVC-free durable water-repellent coating without perfluorinated chemicals.
Now, this might be a deal-breaker for some, but it’s worth noting that the insulation is “700-fill-power 100% Recycled Down (duck and goose down reclaimed from down products),” which, of course, while extremely warming, does mean that you couldn’t reasonably say this coat was vegan-friendly.
You could, however, pretty reasonably ask whether it isn’t better to re-use these products and put them to work – the ethically-questionable part having already happened some time in the past and unrelated to the product itself – than it is to simply destroy them and have it all be for nothing. And, of course, it’s also worth mentioning that both the lining and the insulation are bluesign approved, while the jacket itself is made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory.
“Bionic’s vision has always been to unite industry leading brands through its mission to combat ocean plastic pollution. Our partnership with GORE and close collaboration with Patagonia on this launch are both giant steps towards realizing that goal. The Stormshadow Parka – being the warmest jacket in Patagonia’s line – also proves our core belief that its possible to achieve meaningful social and environmental impact without sacrificing quality and performance.”
– Tim Coombs, Co-founder of Bionic
This first venture for the combined material comes off the back of a 2020 partnership between Gore and Bionic – a move which saw the former invest in the latter’s plastic recovery and sorting facility in Cóbano, Costa Rica, and providing further investment in “material science and supply chain knowledge… helping to create a robust, scalable supply chain, as well as local recycling infrastructure in the Costa Rican communities.”
As first outings go, it’s a pretty impressive one: it’s one thing to have a brand like Patagonia on side, but it’s another thing entirely to be a central part of a landmark new product offering. This wasn’t just packaged into a bag or a regular Patagonia jacket as a test run, the material is front and center – a key element in what the brand surely hopes will become a market-leading product and a core Patagonia piece.
And, while Bionic has its own receipts – the material engineering company recycled some seven million plastic bottles into clothing between 2015 and 2017 alone – this is a clear indication of its ongoing potential and the value its work has to forward-thinking brands.
“Three years ago, Gore and Bionic announced plans to develop high-performance textiles partially made from recycled costal and marine plastic. We collaborated on the development of an innovative laminate that uses a 100% recycled BIONIC textile, combined with our new GORE-TEX ePE Membrane and best-in-class PFC-free DWR treatment to ensure high-performance and durable waterproof, windproof and breathable protection.
Patagonia joining Gore and Bionic to debut the new GORE-TEX Fabric in the STORMSHADOW Parka this season is a testament to the power of strong teamwork to achieve a shared goal.”
– Erik Schrei, Product Specialist for the GORE-TEX Brand
The STORMSHADOW PARKA is out now, available directly from Patagonia, priced at $899 USD.