Early on in the pandemic, just as well-known brands began sewing and selling cloth face masks, a meme began circulating of a woman wearing one of the common blue varieties with, in its upper corner, Patagonia's iconic Fitz Roy logo. "When coronavirus hits [fill in mountain town]," it read. The image was clearly doctored — and Patagonia is one of the few mainstream clothing makers not selling face masks today. But when a photograph picturing the phrase "VOTE THE ASSHOLES OUT" on the backside of the brand's clothing tag began circulating over the weekend, its authenticity was harder to discern.
The tag only hangs from the waist of the company's new Road to Regenerative Stand Up Shorts, despite speculation that the message appears on all of its new clothing. Made of cotton canvas, they're high-waisted, double-layered and have deep pockets. They're also mighty durable, and one of the first pieces of apparel the company made — the canvas of the originals was so stiff, the shorts could stand up on their own, so the story goes.
But back to the tag. Patagonia has never been afraid to make political statements. Famously, in late 2017 it covered the homepage of its website with a glaring message to its customers — "The President Stole Your Land" — after the Trump administration reduced the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments by 800,000 and 1.1 million acres, respectively, in what was the largest reduction of public lands protections in US history. Then it followed up the symbolic gesture with one markedly less so by filing a lawsuit in federal district court against the President and other officials who had a hand in the rollback.
The tag's message is straightforward, and the "assholes" are climate change deniers and those who ignore science. The company has always taken an offensive stance in the fight against climate change and harmful development, starting in 1972 when its founder, Yvon Chouinard, worked to save the Ventura River. More recently, the company launched Patagonia Action Works, a platform that connects individuals to grassroots organizations supporting environmental issues.
And those Stand Up Shorts? They support the environment in their own way, beyond the directive in their tag. They're the product of Patagonia's Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot program, which aims to establish cotton farming techniques that rehabilitate soil and draw carbon back into the ground while promoting farmer and animal welfare. The first crop comes from over 150 farms in India.