In praise of Patagonia
It was over 20 years ago, during a climbing trip to Boulder in Colorado, when I bought my first item of Patagonia clothing. It was one of Patagonia's original Snap-T fleece pullovers in a very fetching lurid purple with orange trim (yes, really!). That pullover covered a lot of miles and shared a lot of great adventures and, in the end, I never actually managed to wear it out...it was retired more because fashions changed and I'd moved on to different styles (and colours!). It was bombproof, I was very proud of it and I have a been a big fan of Patagonia ever since.
Over the years I've had the chance to try a lot of Patagonia clothes (for a while friends nicknamed me 'Patagonia Paul') but in reality there's far more to the company than just great clothes. Yvon Chouinard's (Patagonia's founder) vision has made Patagonia an environmentally responsible company that has no equal in the outdoor equipment trade (although it's great to see many other companies setting increasingly high standards of environmental practice). I've always admired his ethos, his refusal to shy away from making tough calls (for example when he changed all t-shirt manufacture to organic cotton despite knowing he'd have to raise the price and this might turn customers away) and his innovative ideas (we are proud, for example, to follow his lead in giving away 1% of our annual turnover to environmental charities).
The only problem for many years was that Patagonia clothing was hard to source in the UK. I used to pick up items on trips to Chamonix (there's a Patagonia shop there) or the States, but it was always a bit hit and miss. Fortunately, there's no longer a problem with supply. In late 2009 the Peak District was proud to welcome the UK's first dedicated Patagonia shop. The shop was the brainchild of that master of outdoor merchandising, Dick Turnbull, and the shop sits just up the road from his famous shop (Outside) in Hathersage.
It's a cool shop, it's a friendly shop, and it's a place where you'll be sure to get great advice along with your threads. The shop stocks a really good representative selection from the Patagonia range and, if there's anything else you want that isn't available in store, they can order it for you and it will be there in a few days.
Patagonia is a brand I strongly support, the Hathersage Patagonia shop is a great asset to the Hope Valley and the Hope Valley is a natural location for the UK's first Patagonia shop (there's also a recently opened store in Covent Garden). Please call in when you are in the area. All the contact details and more photos are available at http://www.route40.co.uk/our-stores/.