Patagonia makes waves with plant-based wetsuits and obligatory weed jokes
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing outfitter, has figured out what gets surfers’ attention — and it’s something more blunt than big breaks. Yep, the company plans to bring them in with the promise of weed.
In a new print ad Patagonia declares, “We have the best weed in town (and we’re giving it away)”:
No, don’t be silly, not that sort of weed! In most states that’s still illegal. What Patagonia’s got on offer isn’t actually a weed at all: The ad refers to guayule, a desert shrub native to the Southwestern U.S. that’s being baked into wetsuits instead of brownies. Priced between $529 and $549, the company’s hardly giving the suits away — but it’s decided to make the new biorubber, made by Yulex, available to the rest of the surf industry.
Why? It’s not just out to leave you duped. The brand believes that open sourcing a rubber made from greener alternatives will give the surf industry a break from non-biodegradable, resource-intensive neoprene.
The suit, which has begun hitting the market, is made not from conventional, petroleum-based neoprene but from a natural rubber derived from a desert shrub. It is one way Patagonia is trying to nudge along a sport that has not always been environmentally conscious despite its roots in the natural world.
Patagonia executives are also convinced that the many years of development and testing they have supported have resulted in a revolutionary material that will wind up not only in wet suits but also in everyday items like sneakers and yoga mats.
Right now, Patagonia’s new suits are made from a blend of 60 percent guayule and 40 percent neoprene. But the company hopes that if the biorubber catches on, it will drive costs down as Patagonia works toward cutting the neoprene out of its suits completely.
How does the new suit hold up in action against the more traditional strains? “I was really stoked on it,” Ventura, Calif., surfer Mitch Taylor told NY Times. “There was actually nothing different about it than any other suit.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it.