The Patagonia effect

An inside look at Patagonia’s ‘Worn-Wear’ truck.

Olivia Hanson

Ever since Patagonia signed on as the guest designer in September 2017, committee by committee, The Fashion Show has been influenced by Patagonia, their brand image and the values they hold. It was as if Patagonia’s green thumb touched The Fashion Show and spread across like a wave of green influencing each Fashion Show committee to ‘go green.’

This wouldn’t be possible had The Fashion Show not selected a theme that correlated with Patagonia’s brand aesthetic and values. One reason that happened this year is because Patagonia signed on much sooner than guest designers have in the past, allowing The Fashion Show to choose a theme that would go along with the brand aesthetic of the guest designer.

“In years past the guest designer hasn’t necessarily been completely consistent in the theme, but this year since we got Patagonia so early on we really wanted to take that and run with it because it was such a huge grab for us,” said Jessica Helberg, Fashion Show producer and senior in apparel, merchandising and design.

The modern, greenhouse aesthetic is also trendy within our culture today, which was another reason The Fashion Show was easily able to share the green, sustainable, urban aesthetic with Patagonia.

Another reason The Fashion Show chose a theme that mimicked Patagonia’s brand aesthetic and values is because of the education it would provide for students. Part of the guest designer’s job when they come to Iowa State is to hold a lecture to educate students about their business and a big part of Patagonia’s mission has been giving back to the environment and educating people on the importance of sustainability.

“I think it’s such a trend right now to be green. The environmentally conscious aspect of things is very trendy, but it’s becoming more important and prominent in everyone’s lives,” said Jordynn Osterhaus, Fashion Show public relations director and senior in apparel, merchandising and design. “I think that’s why it’s so cool that we have Patagonia because their main focus is keeping that in mind… to bring that into The Fashion Show, since the fashion industry is also needing to take a direction that way. I think it’s just a good step in the right direction… to get the idea and thought process out there of the whole sustainability aspect of things as well.”

Something else that separates Patagonia from past guest designers is its presence on campus. In past years, most students didn’t wear the garments the guest designer produced. This year, many students wear Patagonia around campus.

Emily Clark and Josie Brownmiller, the outreach producers of The Fashion Show and seniors in apparel, merchandising and design, selected Patagonia as their guest designer and reached out to them to be a part of this year’s show. When they began researching guest designers in July 2017, they were both on the same page of wanting a brand that was well known on campus and had a purpose.

“We wanted something that could be, like it has been, incorporated into every aspect of the show and really making it more cohesive and something that would engage students outside the apparel, merchandising and design department,” Brownmiller said. 

The first move The Fashion Show made toward ‘going green,’ was when they selected the theme. ‘Resilience,’ was the word selected to represent the fashion show’s theme. The word is parallel with Patagonia’s brand mission and with what The Fashion Show stands for as well. The aesthetic of this year’s fashion show is a modern, organic theme, which also is also similar to Patagonia’s brand.

“It was the partnership with Patagonia that really sprouted this word [Resilience]. The thought behind it was just powerful, moving forward, kind of like the rigid, powerful energy – having the growth and the greenery theme of the show and also Patagonia’s statement of, ‘making the world a better place,’” Helberg said.

‘Resilience’ is a word defined as: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Patagonia is an active-wear brand that grew from a small business that made rock climbing tools beginning in the 1950s. According to Patagonia’s website, the company has faced many challenges throughout its existence, almost going out of business due to a recession in the 1990s and has now expanded into a brand that sells much more than just climbing gear. They have developed men’s, women’s and children’s garments of all types and a vast variety of outdoor gear. 

Patagonia is also now one of the leading companies in the ethical-fashion industry. They have imposed a 1 percent sales tax on all of their products that is devoted to environmental organizations that work on issues in the areas of climate, land, communities, water, and biodiversity.

Another part of Patagonia’s brand mission is their Worn-Wear program. This is a program where customers are able to go online to Patagonia’s website and watch tutorials on how to fix any Patagonia garment that needs fixing, hopefully inspiring customers to not automatically throw things away and to reduce the waste going into our landfills.

They also have a “Worn Wear” truck that tours the U.S. helping people to fix their garments for free. The purpose of the “Worn Wear” truck tour is to keep textile waste out of landfills and to educate customers about the realities of textile waste and how to reduce that.

This truck tour will be on campus Wednesday April, 11 and Thursday April, 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. located at the West Loop of Memorial Union.

“It’s like a mobile sewing lab and they come in and they teach people how to repair their garments instead of just throwing them away. So they will specifically advertise, ‘Do not buy our product, repair it first,’ so they don’t necessarily want to make a profit. Their entire goal is keeping it out of landfills and sustaining that environmental policy that they have,” Clark said.

With the theme being central to The Fashion Show, other committees started basing their projects around the sustainable theme as well, like a domino effect, we will call ‘the Patagonia effect.’

“Now the theme will be so cohesive with the Patagonia brand, other committees are just kind of taking it and running with it and really expanding what sustainability and eco-friendly means to them and what their committee can do with that idea,” Helberg said. 

The Fashion Show’s public relations committee, with help from the art committee, has based all of the fashion show’s social media off of the modern organic theme, as well. They have also been highlighting Patagonia in their social media feed and the different things that Patagonia has to offer as a company.

The modeling committee is the committee that chooses the models for the fashion show and manages them throughout all of the events they attend. It is also responsible for is choosing what the hair and makeup for the models will look like for the Fashion Show. According to Emily Curtiss, modeling director and senior in apparel, merchandising and design, this year the modeling committee chose hair and makeup styles that will also go along with the theme and Patagonia’s color aesthetic.

The hair and makeup aesthetic, Curtiss said, will be a very natural and modern look. The color scheme they will be using is a, “black-grey-white and then green,” color scheme.

“We kind of just took the theme… we just brainstormed, but then we also looked to our committee members and said, ‘what do you guys think?’ and after gathering the six of them and the three of us, we kind of came up with the same idea of the theme. We want it very natural, sophisticated and kind of ‘dewey,’” Curtiss said. 

The art committee creates any promotional material that the fashion show needs, such as letterheads, invites, posters and anything else any other committee might need. All of their material that they have has been based around the modern, organic theme that the fashion show chose.

“We were definitely inspired by them [Patagonia] as we’re super excited for them to be our guest. So we incorporated a deep-rooted greenery scene with very modern art. So it’s going to be modern art with green organic,” said Ellen Titman, co-creative director of The Fashion Show and senior in graphic design.

The pop-up shop committee will be incorporating healthy foods into their event, as well as a tent to go help create a sustainability mood as customers come to observe.

They have had two clothing drives where students are able to drop off clothing and then with however many clothing items they donate, they will get the same amount of tickets to be able to exchange for new clothes at the Pop-Up Shop on April 13, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 4 front of Parks Library. Also at the Pop-up shop will be different clubs there to educate students about sustainability.

“So basically the entire pop-up shop stems from the idea of sustainability and the values of our guest designer, Patagonia. They’re really big on fixing, rather than buying new,” said Madison Adams, pop-up shop director and junior in apparel, merchandising and design. “We felt like it was important to show Iowa State students that you don’t always have to buy new to be trendy or have the newest thing in fashion. I think a lot of people think you have to have the newest items to be fashionable. So we wanted to show that fashion is a lot more than that.”

The Fashion Week committee is the committee that puts on several different events during the week leading up to the Fashion Show, to get people excited for the event. They’re incorporating a wellness theme to their activities set-up for ISU students that aligns well with the ‘Resilience’ theme and Patagonia as well. Some of their events include ‘Toned Tuesday,’ where they will host a yoga and a Zumba class at State Gym; and ‘Worth it Wednesday,’ where they will be promoting beauty and self-care tips. This goes along with Patagonia’s focus on wellness of all people and the environment in the world.

The set committee is the committee that creates the backdrop of the runway for the fashion show at Stephens Auditorium. The backdrop for the fashion show, according to the fashion show’s producers, will reflect Patagonia’s brand aesthetic and the the theme of Resilience combined.

The tech committee of The Fashion Show has been working with Iowa State alumnus, Nick Hadfield of Los Angeles, California, because he is composing the music that will be played as the models walk on the runway at the fashion show. His compilation of music will also be played during Patagonia’s portion of the show. His music, according to the producers, will be based on the theme ‘Resilience’ and how he interprets it.

“His interpretation of ‘Resilience’ has been more about who that person is and what they’re doing. So are they fighting some kind of war with themselves, or is it a political war, or is it… what are they overcoming? That’s kind of been his inspiration and also looking at Patagonia’s more environmental side and bringing in, he calls them, ’pops of color,’ to get this kind of jungle greenhouse theme that we look forward to,” Clark said. 

At the Fashion Show, at 7 p.m. on April 14 in Stephens Auditorium, Patagonia will be showcasing about 25-30 pieces of their fall 2018 collection of clothing.