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Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia)

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of the sports clothing company Patagonia.

Yvon Chouinard is one of those enterprising few that succeed at “reaching the top by doing the right thing”, as he was described by Time magazine in the very distant-in terms of the Internet- 1999, when corporate social responsibility was not yet a commandment in business marketing departments.

Chouinard, a man of short stature in good shape for his 67 years, nicknamed “The Tiny Terror” and still able to climb in spots close to his California house, is the president and founder of Patagonia, clothing and outdoor gear company that relies on a solid prestige among the extensive U.S. professional, academic and middle class.

The firm, headquartered in Ventura, California, seems to specialize in clothing designed for men and women concerned with protecting themselves from the cold, playing sports, taking leisurely strolls, descending a river or cross-country skiing all in a pragmatic and discreet way, without loud colors or flourishes.

It is sometimes compared to the European brand Decathlon, headquartered in France, for the similar style and comparable values of the clientele of both businesses. If a business can understand from its foundation the values of corporate social responsibility, without renouncing its profits, this would describe -according to its founder- Patagonia.

As highlighted in the U.S. magazine Vanity Fair in The Green Issue (May of 2006), Chouinard donates 30% of his salary to environmental organizations and activists.

The current company Patagonia encourages their employees to carry out acts of non-violent civil disobedience, assuming any legal expenses and bail that could result from these actions.

Patagonia was also the first to print their catalogues on recycled paper (1984), and the first to market jackets made from materials using recycled plastic bottles, in 1993.

Chouinard is a co-founder of the organization One Percent for the Planet, an alliance of companies committed to donating at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental organizations, as Patagonia has done since 1986.  He has also had time to write his autobiography, Let My People Go Surfing.

  • More information about Yvon Chouinard, in Wikipedia.