Patagonia's Pearl Street location transforms into used clothing 'pop-up shop'
Patagonia’s Pearl Street location in Boulder has a new look — with some not-so-new products on the racks.
The outdoor clothing retailer has transformed its location in central Boulder into a “pop-up shop” at 1212 Pearl St. that for the next few months will sell used gear and new clothing made out of recycled fabrics and materials.
It also features an area with a sewing machine and other tools so folks can get their clothing fixed up. Patagonia’s regular store will be reopening down the road at 1630 Pearl St. later this month.
The shop operates under the banner of “Worn Wear,” which until now was an online used and recycled gear store, along with a traveling repair shop Patagonia operated to fix any kind of clothing for free.
“We’ve made a lot of gear, so it’s kind of like our way of giving back and supporting what’s already on the market by repairing what’s already out there,” said Brandon Richards, a Worn Wear tour manager with Patagonia. “Whether it’s our brand or, you know, yoga pants or a sweatshirt, sweats, Levi’s — whatever it is.”
He added repairing clothing and buying used is important, because “everything that’s being produced has an impact.”
“So we’re just trying to keep any item in use longer,” he said.
According to Ana Bogusky, a graduate student in sustainable food systems at the University of Colorado Boulder who publishes a blog on American-made clothing called Mrs. American Made, “the global large-scale textile industry has a significant negative impact on the environment.”
“Those impacts vary by textile,” Bogusky, who also wrote “The unCover Handbook” on how to make ethical and sustainable fashion choices, stated in an email. “For instance, polyester is basically a petroleum product, so to produce new apparel with it uses precious non-renewable resources. On the other hand, it takes over 700 gallons of (fresh) water to produce one cotton t-shirt. So each material has its own issues.”
She added she’s “excited” to see pop-ups like Worn Wear and the growth of the “reuse-recycle-repair” trend in fashion. A lot of the problems in the clothing and textile industry, she wrote, happen at “the end of the line.”
“… Sometimes it’s not so much what we make the clothing out of, but what we do with it when we’re done with it,” Bogusky stated. “The (Environmental Protection Agency) suggests that we are sending about 70-80 pounds of textile waste per person per year directly to landfills. In other words, clothing has its initial environmental impact and that is compounded as it contributes to (greenhouse gas) emissions after we toss it.”
The choices that consumers make and trends in the industry as exhibited by Worn Wear, she added, “can have a marked effect on this issue.”
“We are seeing resale platforms grow exponentially along with #nonewclothes, #30wearschallenge, and #secondhandfirst hashtags popping up more and more,” she stated. “Meanwhile, some attribute events such as the Forever 21 bankruptcy to shifting consumer tastes. Either way, there is definitely a new way of thinking about filling our closets.”
Patagonia’s Worn Wear touring repair trucks have contributed to that growth, too, so far making their way across the United States, Europe, Japan and parts of South America.
Other clothing manufacturers, such as Eileen Fisher, North Face and others, also have jumped on the used and recycled clothing bandwagon, touting their long-lasting and fixable threads.
A recent survey from Accenture, a global business strategy and consulting firm, also confirmed that secondhand is in vogue, with 48% of respondents saying they would consider giving used clothing as a gift, and 56% saying they would welcome used clothing being given to them.
For Patagonia, the pop-up store represents the first dedicated brick-and-mortar appearance of the Worn Wear brand. Ethan Engemann, who recently moved to the Boulder area to manage the shop, said it could help push along the broader trend of making clothing last and buying used.
“I think repairs have gotten more popular, in a sense, because Patagonia kind of makes it a little cool to repair things,” he said.
And when the Worn Wear truck has made its way to college campuses, Richards added, young people have recognized them and been more receptive to the idea of recycling and fixing clothes.
Tessa Byars, a communications manager at Patagonia, said the company believes Boulder will be pretty welcoming, too.
“We think they will be receptive to purchasing high-quality used products, learning more about caring for and repairing the gear they already own to keep it in play longer,” she wrote in an email.