Fresh off the Haute Couture workshops tour the Daily Couture organized for Shelly Gottschamer, Sportwear Sourcing Manager at Patagonia, we were so delighted with our meeting with her that having a look inside what is regarded as the most sustainable clothing brand in the world felt spot-on. 

Fresh off the Haute Couture workshops tour the Daily Couture organized for Shelly Gottschamer, Sportwear Sourcing Manager at Patagonia, we were so delighted with our meeting with her that having a look inside Patagonia that is regarded as one of the pioneering sustainable clothing brands in the world felt spot-on.  As Shelly travels the world all year around to check Patagonia ‘s clothing manufacturers,  it was great meeting her while in Paris for vacation.  And although the tour and interview took place a while ago, in 2012, the issues raised regarding sustainable fashion does remain relevant for this new version of the Daily Couture. Patagonia does remain a pionneer in sustainable clothing. For instance, as far back as 2012,  Patagonia was not not using silk to avoid using cocoons…

PATAGONIA ‘S MISSION STATEMENT  : Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

patagonia the daily couture ethical fashion

Why should the Daily Couture demonstrate so much enthusiasm for this brand? Because Patagonia is one of the pioneer companies within the garment industry that has put sustainability concerns at the core of its business, back in 1973. It has the experience to draw feedback from. For sure, luxury brands would learn a great deal from such a pioneer renowned for its expertise in sustainability standards in the fashion industry. Jean-Noel Kapferer, a luxury expert, predicts that NGOs are expected to pay closer attention to the 200 billion euros luxury sector in 2011 (Bain & Co studies). Besides his international study on what customers of luxury brands think of sustainability and whose conclusions will be released next year, the expert quoted brand new types of research done by financial analysts for the first time in 2012 :  how do luxury companies build and preserve the trust of financial markets? To which extent will the corporate reputation of luxury brands in financial markets would suffer in case of sustainability crisis within companies. Damages would be particularly high within the luxury industry.

Will sustainability within the luxury industry be enhanced by financial experts? How ironical is that, isn’t it? For now, the Daily Couture got rather interested in Patagonia as a progressive and environmentally conscious and possibly even to be considered as a role model for luxury brands in terms of transparency and trustfulness customers expect from them.


patagonia, ethical fashion, the daily couture, stephanie bui
Shelly Gottschamer, Sportwear Sourcing Manager, Patagonia

What were your motivations in discovering artisanal processes of haute couture in Paris?

SG : Parisian couture represents the ultimate quality, and gave rise to ready to wear fashion as we know it today. Quality in large scale manufacturing relies on good systems both personal and mechanical. Today’s factory worker, in a sophisticated environment produces a single operation the same way every time through the use of aides or guides and templates. In pursuit of quality I naturally gravitate to the worker. Is he/she the evolution of a home sewer copying couture fashions before large scale manufacturing was prevalent? If couture is the ultimate inspiration for ready to wear how does that manufacturing standard translate into large scale manufacturing? It is these questions that were the motivating factor in discovering the artisanal processes of haute couture.

What was surprising or not to you since you are used to go all around the world meeting industrial and artisanal manufactures as well?

SG : As the chemical makeup of dyes continue to be regulated on a global scale, It was refreshing to discover that the same questions are being asked at every dye house, large or small. How do you achieve colorfastness and consistency without using dyes that are bad for the environment? What are the consequences to business, and to our water systems downstream from using dye stuffs that cause less harm.

The most surprising, and alarming discovery was in regards to the quality of the leather from a generation ago, to today. Yesterday’s 3rd or 4th quality skins are today’s 1st and 2nd quality, leading to the natural question about GMO food production, reduction in livestock breeding diversity and the farther reaching implications to our environmental crisis.

SG : All suppliers, at any level, are faced with the same challenges whether it be  lead time, pricing or how to remain prevalent in today’s economy of increased regulations.

patagonia, the daily couture, haute couture visit, stephanie bui
Shelly Gottschamer, Sportwear Sourcing Manager, visited two haute couture workrooms and supplyers in Paris the Daily Couture organized for her

Today Patagonia clothing are potentially recyclable. In the future it would be possible for the clients to send back their polyester jackets that will be recycled. What can you tell us about the recycled polyester that is used in Patagonia’s best seller jacket?

SG : The down sweater is one of the bestselling products for Patagonia and uses a light weight 100% recycled polyester from a company in Japan.

Because of your capacity to guarantee traceability, quality, transparency and sustainability, the business ethics of Patagonia could be related to what real luxury products should be about in some ways. Patagonia shares the list of its suppliers with the public. Why is it so important to Patagonia to communicate on it? You even mentioned that Patagonia is gathering with competitors like Nike. The company shares informations about its suppliers during informal meetings, you work with NGOs  and other organizations as well to improve both business practices and working conditions. Do you think it could be a relevant business model for the luxury industry?

SG : There has been a shift in the industry towards transparency that was initially driven by worker conditions a number of years ago (giving rise to the FLA) and has expanded to include environmental practices as well. Levi Strauss was one of the leaders, implementing a “terms of engagement”  policy in the supply chain in the late 90’s encompassing both social and environmental practices. From a social and environmental aspect understanding a supply chain promotes awareness along the value chain, resulting in better business decisions. Where do our products come from? Are they sustainable, and are the workers treated fairly? These are questions that consumers and brands are beginning more and more to ask. Publicizing a supplier list is a natural evolution stemming from worker rights programs that started in the 90’s and many major brands, including Nike, Levi’s, Adidas and Patagonia to name a few, publish their factory list annually. When brands work together to change unfair or unsafe business practices, there is a higher likelihood of success.

patagonia the daily coutureShelly Gottschamer, Sportwear Sourcing Manager, Patagonia, the daily couture

How do you deal with the idea that manufacturing processes are always to be improved, it is not always perfect, and yet, Patagonia chooses to communicate with the public on manufacturing defects as well, you mentioned the issue you had with down jackets? How did discover it and deal with it?

SG : The interesting aspect of apparel manufacturing is the lack of automation. In most industrial manufacturing the production line has been fully automated, the automotive industry is a good example. In apparel few operations benefit from automation and the process relies heavily on the worker, bringing a personal and charming aspect not found in other industries. With the lack of automation comes a greater potential for variation or defects. At Patagonia we know we are not perfect, and we strive to improve processes internally and externally to deliver the best product causing the least amount of harm. Most of our manufacturing challenges are deep in the supply chain, understanding where our (organic) cotton, (non mulsed) wool, and down fill in our jackets comes from. Are the raw materials sustainable? Are they dyed causing the least amount of harm? Is our cotton grown in a water stressed region? In these areas Patagonia is pretty vocal, and we strive to engage our customers in this dialog.

What do you think of initiatives such as Sourcemap (a site to learn where things come from) ?

SG : I think it is really important for consumers to understand that there is a social and environmental choice they are making  with every purchase. When you buy a tee shirt, do you know if the company you are buying from manufactures use sustainable practices? Do they treat their workers fairly ? What country is it made in? Brands play an important role by publishing best industry practices (and those in need of improvement), so consumers can make educated decisions about their purchases. Source Map, the HIGG Index, Adidas’s EPL (environmental profit and Loss) and Nike’s open source design tool to name a few, are champions in getting the information out so consumers can make an educated choice.

Any additional comments that you would like to mention to our readers who are involved in design-making and business of luxury products?

SG : There are a lot of really great things happening to bring transparency and sustainability into the same conversations driving business; profit and sustainable growth. Whether its 3rd party certification by companies such as Blue Sign managing dye house inputs, to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition bringing companies like Walmart together with Marks and Spencer to implement solutions towards sustainable performance. As the apparel industry is not automated, what you are wearing today, manufactured at a large factory or locally within the highest craftsmen’s standards is a handmade piece of clothing – now that’s inspiring!

Notes :

Environmental actions by Patagonia

Learning about where things come from with Sourcemap


  1. I in addition to my guys ended up reviewing the best helpful tips on your web blog then at once got a horrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for those tips. The guys came for that reason excited to read through them and have pretty much been making the most of these things. I appreciate you for simply being simply considerate and then for choosing varieties of magnificent things most people are really needing to know about. My personal sincere regret for not saying thanks to earlier.

  2. I simply wished to appreciate you again. I am not sure what I might have gone through in the absence of those opinions shown by you directly on that field. It has been the depressing condition for me, however , seeing your expert way you resolved that took me to jump with happiness. Extremely happy for the assistance and thus believe you realize what a great job you happen to be carrying out educating many others thru your web site. Probably you haven’t got to know all of us.

  3. I simply needed to appreciate you yet again. I am not sure the things that I might have used in the absence of those creative concepts revealed by you regarding my subject. It was actually a troublesome crisis in my view, but coming across a skilled technique you resolved it forced me to leap for delight. I will be happy for the assistance and even hope that you find out what a great job you’re undertaking instructing many others through the use of your web page. I know that you’ve never met all of us.

  4. I together with my guys have been digesting the good tips located on your web blog and then instantly got an awful suspicion I had not thanked the site owner for those secrets. All the young boys had been as a result thrilled to learn all of them and have now definitely been using these things. Many thanks for being considerably thoughtful and then for deciding upon this form of fantastic subjects most people are really desirous to discover. My personal sincere regret for not saying thanks to you earlier.

  5. I am also commenting to let you understand what a outstanding discovery my daughter undergone reading through yuor web blog. She noticed many pieces, with the inclusion of what it is like to possess an incredible teaching style to have the rest completely have an understanding of some impossible things. You actually surpassed people’s expected results. I appreciate you for providing such valuable, trusted, edifying and unique thoughts on that topic to Jane.

  6. I happen to be commenting to make you be aware of of the really good encounter my wife’s daughter enjoyed studying the blog. She came to find numerous details, most notably how it is like to have an excellent coaching spirit to have the others really easily gain knowledge of a variety of extremely tough issues. You truly exceeded people’s desires. Many thanks for coming up with these precious, safe, educational and unique guidance on your topic to Jane.

  7. I intended to send you the very small remark to be able to thank you over again relating to the unique tricks you have contributed on this page. It was simply particularly generous of you to offer easily just what most people could have offered as an e-book to get some profit on their own, especially given that you could possibly have done it in case you decided. The ideas additionally acted to provide a great way to realize that some people have the same eagerness like my own to see very much more in terms of this matter. I’m certain there are lots of more pleasurable opportunities up front for folks who scan through your blog.

  8. I must express appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this instance. As a result of exploring through the the web and coming across techniques which are not productive, I assumed my entire life was well over. Being alive without the presence of strategies to the difficulties you’ve solved as a result of your good post is a critical case, and those which could have in a wrong way damaged my career if I hadn’t discovered your blog post. That skills and kindness in playing with every item was very useful. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t discovered such a stuff like this. I can at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for your reliable and sensible guide. I will not hesitate to suggest your web blog to any person who should have direction about this issue.

  9. I simply had to thank you so much once more. I do not know what I would’ve accomplished without these concepts contributed by you over that subject. It had become a horrifying difficulty in my opinion, but viewing your skilled approach you treated the issue took me to leap over delight. I will be grateful for the support and then pray you realize what a great job you are always putting in instructing the others through your website. I am sure you have never come across all of us.

  10. My spouse and i felt quite fulfilled when Ervin managed to complete his investigation because of the precious recommendations he got through the blog. It is now and again perplexing just to always be giving freely instructions that many people might have been trying to sell. So we fully grasp we have you to give thanks to because of that. Most of the illustrations you made, the simple website navigation, the relationships your site help promote – it is many wonderful, and it’s really helping our son in addition to us reckon that the theme is fun, which is certainly extraordinarily fundamental. Thank you for the whole lot!

  11. Thank you so much for giving everyone an exceptionally wonderful possiblity to check tips from this website. It’s usually very pleasurable and as well , stuffed with amusement for me and my office mates to visit your web site at least thrice in 7 days to find out the fresh secrets you will have. And indeed, I am just actually motivated considering the astounding suggestions you give. Certain 4 points in this post are unequivocally the most impressive I’ve had.

  12. I in addition to my buddies were analyzing the good points located on the website while all of the sudden got an awful suspicion I had not expressed respect to the web blog owner for those secrets. My ladies ended up as a consequence warmed to study them and have in effect pretty much been taking pleasure in them. Thank you for indeed being considerably accommodating as well as for opting for this sort of fine issues millions of individuals are really wanting to discover. Our honest regret for not saying thanks to you earlier.

  13. I needed to write you one little observation to help give many thanks as before on your extraordinary advice you have discussed here. It has been quite tremendously generous of you giving unreservedly just what most people could have offered for sale for an e-book to end up making some dough for their own end, especially since you could possibly have tried it in case you considered necessary. These solutions likewise acted as a good way to fully grasp that other people online have similar keenness similar to my personal own to know the truth a great deal more when considering this issue. I’m sure there are several more fun instances in the future for people who read through your site.

  14. I needed to draft you one little bit of word just to thank you yet again on the remarkable techniques you’ve discussed on this page. This is really particularly open-handed of people like you to allow easily just what a number of us would have distributed as an ebook to generate some dough on their own, and in particular since you could have done it if you ever desired. The basics additionally acted like the great way to realize that other individuals have similar desire like my very own to figure out a little more when it comes to this problem. I’m certain there are several more pleasurable times in the future for those who look into your website.

  15. Thanks so much for providing individuals with an exceptionally remarkable chance to check tips from this site. It is usually so excellent and full of amusement for me and my office friends to search your website not less than three times per week to learn the latest things you have got. And lastly, I’m so at all times satisfied with all the staggering opinions served by you. Certain 3 points in this post are in fact the very best I have ever had.

  16. A lot of thanks for all of the efforts on this web site. My daughter really likes engaging in investigation and it is simple to grasp why. My partner and i know all concerning the compelling way you give both interesting and useful guides by means of this blog and therefore boost contribution from other ones on that area of interest and our own simple princess has always been learning a great deal. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. You’re doing a terrific job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *