Patagonia wants to buy back your used gear

The new Worn Wear trade-in program makes recycling and upgrading your gear easier than ever
Patagonia worn wear
Photo: Patagonia

Have an old shirt, fleece or jacket taking up space in your garage or basement? What about a backpack or a piece of luggage? Well, Patagonia wants it. And they want to pay you for it. Well, sort of. Through it's new Worn Wear trade-in program, Patagonia wants you to swap your old gear for credit towards any products you might buy in the future, with the hopes of getting your perfectly good but no-longer-your-favorite piece of gear in the hands of someone else, reducing Patagonia's need to manufacture new products to meet those customers' needs.

The Worn Wear initiative isn't new, the company started it several years ago, with its genesis reaching even farther back with Patagonia's infamous "Don't Buy This Jacket" newspaper ad. But, until recently the program was limited to urging customers to limit their purchasing of new gear to products they actually needed, as well as partnering with online repair experts iFixit to produce instruction manuals on how to repair Patagonia products and keep them in action longer.

But the new Worn Wear trade-in program and Worn Wear Store look to take the initiative to new heights by offering customers a way to recycle their unneeded gear and get paid for doing so. The result, Patagonia hopes, will be a win-win both for customers looking to keep their old gear out of the landfill and for those looking for a value on new(ish) gear they need.

patagonia "don't buy this jacket" ad
Photo: Patagonia

About Patagonia's motivation for creating the Worn Wear store and trade-in program, a spokesperson for the company noted that "The need for businesses to step up and address the effects of climate change has never been greater. The global apparel market is worth $3 trillion, but unfortunately the low cost of manufacturing and the relentless drive for profits above all else has driven many companies to offer cheap, throwaway clothing rather than build high-quality gear built to last. Worn Wear seeks to help reverse this trend by highlighting the value of investing in high-quality products, providing the tools required for long-term ownership and by providing a platform for resale of used goods. Patagonia is proud to lead a growing number of organizations committed to furthering the circular economy business model."

Patagonia rates the products in the store as either "Excellent" (like new), "Great" (small signs of wear) or "Good" (visible scars from repair or use), often even including details on the particular type of scars for items that fall into the latter category, so you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're getting.

At a glance, the values for shoppers look surprisingly good. A 2016 men's Patagonia Nano-Puff jacket in good condition will run you $80, while a new one from this year will run you $199. Need a new Sun Stretch shirt for your flats trip this winter? A new one will run you $99 but one from the Worn Wear store can be had for $40. Or maybe you're planning to stay cold this winter and need a new pair of ski pants. A pair of Patagonia's Powder Bowl pants in excellent condition run just $120, as opposed to $299 for a brand new pair.

patagonia worn wear patch
Get your own worn wear patch by sending Patagonia a story about your piece of gear (photo: Patagonia).

Customers looking to trade in gear can expect to get 1/2 of what Patagonia will turn around and sell the item for after inspecting and cleaning it (through a special environmentally-friendly liquid CO2 cleaning process), meaning the customer that traded in the aforementioned puff jacket netted $40 in credit towards future Patagonia purchases. Bigger items like insulated or 3-in-1 snow jackets fetch up to $100, while smaller items like shirts and kids apparel might only earn you $20.

You can look up trade-in values here. Actually trading in your item means heading to a Patagonia store or looking for the Worn Wear truck to make a tour stop near you. As for shopping for your newest gear treasure, that all happens online at the Worn Wear Store.