When shopping for outdoor gear and apparel, quality and durability are important.
You’re going to expose yourself to harsh elements of the weather.
Your gear needs to stand up to the exposure, too.
Otherwise, you can fall ill or injure yourself.
One name that is synonymous with quality and durability is Patagonia.
However, you’ll find the prices for their clothes are expensive.
Here are 10 reasons Patagonia is so expensive.
Why Is Patagonia So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Sustainable Sourcing
One reason Patagonia clothes are expensive is that they practice sustainable sourcing.
Since their clothes target an outdoor audience, it only makes sense that they’d want to do their part to protect the environment.
If the environment is poor, then people won’t want to go outside.
They won’t need outdoor clothes as a result.
To help protect the environment, Patagonia uses sustainable sourcing practices.
They ensure that their suppliers follow regulations to harvest cotton safely and sustainably.
Those regulations come with costs.
It’s a lot more expensive to ensure you’re only taking enough cotton that you need rather than harvesting the entire thing and ruining the soil for future yields.
Despite the extra cost, Patagonia persists in sustainable sourcing.
The result is a higher price on clothes.
The higher price covers the cost of sustainable sourcing.
Customers aren’t only buying high-quality clothes from Patagonia.
When they support Patagonia financially, they’re also supporting Patagonia’s efforts to practice sustainable sourcing.
2. Living Wage Payments
Patagonia takes the pay of its workers seriously.
They also take the pay of factory workers seriously even though they’re not technically Patagonia employees.
Patagonia doesn’t own any factories.
Instead, they partner with a few select factories that meet their standards.
One of their most important standards is the pay that the factory gives to its employees.
Applying pressure on factories to pay their employees a living wage isn’t always easy.
That’s because the factory often works with several different brands at the same time.
If one brand pushes the factory to pay its workers more, then the factory will need to increase its prices for all the brands.
This can be tricky to do legally.
Companies that pressure factories to raise their wages are liable for something called price-fixing.
It’s when companies come together and agree on a certain price that sets the market standard.
It’s illegal to do so in a country with a free economy.
That said, Patagonia can only put so much pressure on the factory to raise its prices to pay its workers a livable wage.
However, it is something they take seriously.
They work closely with the Fair Labor Association to help ensure factory workers receive a living wage.
Patagonia even regularly revisits the cost of living for each country where they have a factory partnership.
This extra oversight also costs them money.
Being active in labor rights and living wage rights adds to the costs of business operations.
Since many factory workers have started earning a living wage, the price for Patagonia’s products increased.
That’s because it costs more to have their products made.
The result is a higher price on their products for the customers.
When customers buy Patagonia products, they’re also supporting the livelihood of many factory workers across the world.
3. Partnership With Bluesign Technologies
Patagonia also partners with bluesign Technologies.
It’s a company that audits certain practices and determines their environmental impact.
They rate certain materials and practices with a color-coded system to make them easier to understand.
Safe chemicals have a blue designation.
Chemicals that require safe handling procedures have a grey designation.
Finally, chemicals that are harmful to the environment and the workers have a black designation.
Patagonia tries to avoid using black chemicals.
They’ve been pushing their partnerships to use safe practices that keep both their workers and the environment healthy.
Some of their factories had already started practicing safer and green methods in the early 2010s.
Patagonia required the rest of its partnerships to do the same by 2015.
Since it requires more effort and more expensive technology to practice green methods, factories need to increase the price of doing business with them.
As a result, it costs more for the products that they produce.
Patagonia takes on those costs and covers them by raising the price of their own products.
Because Patagonia wants to ensure the environment is safer by working with bluesign Technologies, their products are more expensive.
4. Focus On Factories In The United States
While Patagonia has factories across the world, they try to focus on factories in the United States whenever they can.
The problem is that there are only a few textile factories in the United States.
An even smaller number meets the environmental and wage standards of Patagonia.
A large part of the reason there are so few textile factories in the United States has to do with the various trade agreements that have prompted the factories to leave the country in pursuit of foreign workers instead.
The NAFTA, CAFTA, ATPA, and IFTA agreements, in particular, played an important role in driving textile factories out of the country.
As a result, Patagonia works extra hard to find new factories that follow their environmental and worker standards.
This costs them time and money.
Part of their onboarding before making a deal with a factory is to send a representative to inspect their factory.
They’ll check that they’re using green methods, have high-quality worker conditions, and that they pay their workers a living wage.
In the United States, a living wage can be expensive for factories to give.
It means it costs more to produce through them.
Not all businesses are willing to take the hit to their profits to pay those costs.
Patagonia is willing, though, because they’re earnest about wanting to protect the environment and ensure factory workers receive fair pay.
That means that they have to charge more for their products to ensure they can make a profit and stay in business, too.
5. Focus On Quality Clothes
One of the aspects that sets Patagonia apart from other brands is its focus on quality.
Patagonia partners with factories that hire skilled workers.
The thread count of their clothes is extremely important to them.
The stitch quality also requires experience and skill to be top-notch.
As a result, they look for factories that hire seamstresses that can provide high-quality work.
That type of labor doesn’t come cheap.
Nor do the materials.
Cotton and other materials often come from animals or crops.
To yield high-quality materials, the animals and crops need to receive a healthy diet and good living conditions.
If they don’t have a healthy diet or if their environment is poor, then they can’t flourish.
The result is low-quality materials.
Giving crops and animals the best care costs money.
That adds to the price of the materials.
Patagonia covers the cost of its materials by raising the price of its products.
When you buy attire from Patagonia, then you do so knowing that you’re buying the best stitching and materials on the market.
Consumers buy Patagonia products because they know that they’re durable.
The quality of their materials ensures this.
Durability is important when you’re outside.
The last thing you want to experience is a jacket or coat that rips while you’re hiking.
It can expose you to the elements and make you ill.
In freezing temperatures, it may even be lethal.
Patagonia makes outdoor clothing and gear that’s built tough.
It’s designed to last even if you’re rubbing up against cliff faces or pushing your way through trees and barbs.
That durability comes with a price.
To make something durable, manufacturers need both high-quality materials and high-quality processes.
They invest in those processes to yield a fantastic product.
Investing means more money, time, and engineering goes into the product.
All those aspects come with a price tag.
It drives up the price of the product as a result.
Since Patagonia products are durable, you’ll also need fewer of them.
They last longer which means you won’t need to replace them as often.
While this saves you money in the long run, it makes Patagonia miss out on potential revenue.
As a result, they have to set their prices on their products at a high enough amount to make up for the missed profit.
Another great aspect of Patagonia’s durable attire is that it helps protect the environment.
Since their clothing lasts longer, you have to buy less of it.
That means they have to do less manufacturing.
Their clothes also use recyclable materials.
They often encourage their customers to recycle their clothing when they’re done using them.
Recycling the clothes means the materials can undergo processing, then find use again in another product.
This helps cut down on the impact on the environment since less manufacturing needs to take place.
If you want long-lasting outdoor gear and attire, then you can expect to pay a high price for it through Patagonia.
The benefit is that it will last you for years.
Patagonia puts a lot of effort into the design of their clothes.
Their clothing line isn’t only outdoor-oriented, but each type has a specific purpose.
The line made for rock climbing uses a design that makes wearing it while rock climbing practical.
It has enough features to help your climb without too many to become cumbersome.
The same goes for their hiking line.
They make it in such a way that it aids hiking without adding unneeded extras that can hinder your ability to hike.
This added emphasis on a purpose-built design makes Patagonia expensive.
Not every clothing brand puts in as much effort.
Instead, they try to appeal to the masses.
The problem with doing that is the clothing you end up with doesn’t serve its original purpose.
It attempts to do too much at the same time.
Purpose-built clothing, on the other hand, gives those wearing it exactly what they need.
It’s more expensive because factories need to fit the specific design for each style of clothes.
The engineering process behind the clothing line also makes it more expensive.
A lot of thought and work goes into the design of each clothing line.
Those engineers and designers need to be paid for their services.
All these factors lead to a higher price on the clothing.
You can buy outdoor apparel almost anywhere.
Buying purpose-built outdoor clothing is a lot more difficult.
Because Patagonia is one of the few suppliers of this type of clothing, they’re able to put it at a higher price.
8. R & D Budget
Patagonia has a large Research & Development team.
They’re always trying to figure out how to make their outdoor gear more accessible and more practical for their customers.
When their customers discuss problems they have with outdoor clothing, Patagonia listens.
They want to learn and improve on their mistakes and the mistakes of other clothing brands.
To ensure they’re always the leader in the industry, they invest a lot in their R & D team.
Their team experiments and runs trials on different designs and prototypes.
Not every prototype works out.
Investments always come with costs.
To cover the cost and ensure that they’re still able to keep producing their clothes, Patagonia keeps their prices expensive.
It keeps them competitive with other clothing brands by ensuring that they’re always innovating the market.
When you buy a product from Patagonia, you’re also helping to fund their R&D team which can come up with new and exciting products.
9. Popularity In Outdoor Activities
Outdoor activities have seen an increase in popularity.
Coming out of a global pandemic that prompted people to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors more has introduced outdoor activities to a larger public.
With more emphasis on the rising environmental dangers ahead, younger generations are looking to enjoy the outdoors more, too.
That means the demand for outdoor gear and clothing is growing.
With many seeking high-quality gear for their outdoor activities, many of them are turning to Patagonia.
Their durable clothing and emphasis on sustainable sourcing and green manufacturing entice those who want to do their part to help protect the environment.
The problem is that supply remains about the same.
With increased demand and the same amount of supply, the price for the clothing and gear increases.
This is especially true during warmer seasons when people are looking to buy new gear to head outside.
If you’re one of those individuals looking to buy new gear and join others outside, then you can expect high prices at Patagonia.
10. Shipping Fees
A final reason Patagonia is expensive is shipping fees.
Since Patagonia doesn’t own any factories or mills, they have to pay for the shipment of their products to their stores from the factories.
A lot of their factories are overseas.
That comes with a price tag.
Imports have to pay a tariff, or tax, to enter the country.
It’s a way the government can earn money on imported goods.
They can wage different tariff amounts on different countries whenever they want.
If Patagonia ships in products from a country that has to pay a large tariff amount, then that cuts into the profit they’ll receive when they sell the product.
To overcome that, they need to set their prices high enough to cover shipping fees.
It’s also a reason Patagonia tries to work with US-based factories when selling products in the United States.
It saves money and is more environmentally friendly.
How To Save Money On Patagonia Products
Since Patagonia products can sometimes rest around the $500 mark, and only increase from there, you may wonder how you can save money on their gear.
Here are a few tips you can follow to save money on Patagonia.
1. Shop Seasonally
While Patagonia sells both summer and winter gear, they often run sales on previous products when the season ends.
It’s a great time to pick up some gear for as steep as a 50% discount.
The price may still be expensive for some, but it’s a lot cheaper than its original amount.
2. Buy Secondhand
Since Patagonia’s clothes last for a long time, it’s worth looking for secondhand products.
People sometimes sell their old gear online for cheap.
They want it out of their house since they don’t have a use for it anymore.
You can score big deals by buying Patagonia products secondhand.
Patagonia’s clothing lines and outdoor gear have a reputation for being premium.
They use high-quality practices and have an acute emphasis on sustainable sourcing, manufacturing, and business operations.
All these factors make their products more expensive.
You may find that Patagonia’s approach to business and the environment is well worth the expense.