The Most Beautiful Product We Make Is the One You’re Wearing

Mikey Schaefer  /  4 Min Read  /  Worn Wear

Is anyone this psyched when they buy a brand-new jacket off the rack? Martin Lopez Abad, reunited with his well-worn, freshly-patched jacket, thinks not. Photo: Mikey Schaefer

At Patagonia, we think the most beautiful product is really designed by you. Every tear, stain and duct tape patch proves the bond that can develop between a person and their gear. Our Worn Wear repair program helps keep your well-loved clothes in action longer and provides an easy way to recycle Patagonia garments when they’ve finally gone one step beyond.

Mikey Schaefer, our longtime ambassador and photographer, spends part of every year in Patagonia. Recently, he came back with a story that’s become one of our Worn Wear favorites.

When I go to Chalten, I often bring jackets I’m not wearing or that are slightly worn out. Gear is so much easier to get up here in the States, and climbers down there need it, so it’s a good way to keep things in circulation.

It was the end of the climbing season. Martin, who I didn’t really know at the time, shows up and knocks on my door in this beat-up jacket. The thing was so trashed. You don’t really see that, especially in the States—people just don’t wear stuff to that stage anymore. But here’s this nice kid asking, “I heard maybe you have jackets to sell?” And I’m just staring at him and his jacket in shock. He tells me he’d climbed Fitz Roy in it and essentially froze his ass off. There were holes in the elbows—the thing is just wrecked. But here’s this young guy, making it happen and I thought, I like this kid. So I say, “Hey man, how about this. Let’s just trade.”

Photo: Federico Ruffini

Well-anchored but hanging loose, Martin Lopez Abad raps off Torre Norte. Torres del Paine, Chile. Photo: Federico Ruffini

He didn’t understand at first. He thought I was crazy. But I wanted to bring the thing back to the U.S. and show people, because they don’t always understand what we’re really building these things for. I wasn’t sure if it could be repaired or not, but I tell Martin, “Here’s a pile of jackets, go pick one.” He says, “No way. You’re giving me a jacket?” Then he just grabs me and hugs me and says, “Thank you so much!” He picks out a down hoody or something, and I take his jacket, and that was that.

When I got back to the States, the Worn Wear truck came to Smith Rock, and I brought out Martin’s jacket. I showed it to one of our repair gurus, Cathy Averett, and she said, “Whoa. I’ve never seen anything like this.” She clued in that this was a super special piece, and said, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to fix this thing.”

Photo: Donnie Hedden

Mikey Schaefer gets his Worn Wear fix. Smith Rock, Oregon. Photo: Donnie Hedden

Sometime that fall, I got the jacket back. It was amazing. Cathy had gone to town on it. Now it’s got custom embroidery on the back, and it says “Made with love” on the inside. She just went off. So I threw it in my bag, didn’t email Martin or anything, and brought it back down to Chalten. Soon, I run into him, and I say, “Dude, you gotta come over. I brought you something.” I bust out his jacket, and he’s speechless. He was so worked up, he gave me another huge hug.

Photo: Mikey Schaefer

Is anyone this psyched when they buy a brand-new jacket off the rack? Martin Lopez Abad, reunited with his well-worn, freshly-patched jacket, thinks not. Photo: Mikey Schaefer

You know, when you’re young, a jacket means something to you. It means so much more than when you can buy whatever you want, and Martin had worn that thing up Fitz Roy and on all these rad routes, and it had serious sentimental value to him. He wore the repaired jacket around town, and he was so proud. It’s kinda too small for him—the cuffs come up above his wrists and stuff, but it’s classic. Every time I saw him that trip, he had that jacket on, showing people, so psyched.

It was a fun thing to be able to do. It’s great when it all comes full circle.

This story first appeared in the Patagonia Winter 2016 Catalog.

Related Stories

Recycling Is Broken. Now What?
Patagonia is no stranger to the difficulty of throwing stuff away. We take back 100 percent of the gear you return for recycling through our Worn Wear program. In 2018, we recycled 6,797 pounds of products. But we can’t recycle or repair everything you send us. Some of it was just too well-loved during use…
Patagonia is no stranger to the difficulty of throwing stuff away. We take back 100 percent of the gear you return for recycling through our Worn Wear program. In 2018, we recycled 6,797 pounds of products. But we can’t recycle or repair everything you send us. Some of it was just too well-loved during use…
Michele Bianchi
7 min Read
The Worn Wear Crew Visits the Northeast: Photos
I lost track of how many people asked us why we were driving into the deeper nooks of New England during the middle of winter. I knew the answer, but I’d be lying if I didn’t question the reasoning myself. The Worn Wear crew set out to visit a few snow sport communities in the…
I lost track of how many people asked us why we were driving into the deeper nooks of New England during the middle of winter. I knew the answer, but I’d be lying if I didn’t question the reasoning myself. The Worn Wear crew set out to visit a few snow sport communities in the…
Kern Ducote
5 min Read
My Pink Baggies
Dear Patagonia, My pink Patagonia Baggies Shorts are the best shorts I’ve ever owned. In 2016, I wore them for 180 straight days when thru-hiking the 2,189.1-mile Appalachian Trail (AT); and in 2017, I wore them for 135 days while thru-hiking the 2,650.1-mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I wore them every day, all day and…
Dear Patagonia, My pink Patagonia Baggies Shorts are the best shorts I’ve ever owned. In 2016, I wore them for 180 straight days when thru-hiking the 2,189.1-mile Appalachian Trail (AT); and in 2017, I wore them for 135 days while thru-hiking the 2,650.1-mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I wore them every day, all day and…
Laura Johnston
3 min Read
Annihilating Expectations on the Worn Wear Tour
After 48 days in the same vehicle with the same four people, five if you count Brandon’s second shadow and beloved dog Rudy (half dog, half human), one is ready for a week of weekends. We romped around for the better part of the last two months, running from Squaw Valley, to Aspen, to Jackson…
After 48 days in the same vehicle with the same four people, five if you count Brandon’s second shadow and beloved dog Rudy (half dog, half human), one is ready for a week of weekends. We romped around for the better part of the last two months, running from Squaw Valley, to Aspen, to Jackson…
Kern Ducote
4 min Read
What Happens to Your Gear at the Patagonia Repair Center: Photos
Welcome to Patagonia’s Repair Center, where we’ll do just about anything to keep your gear in play. We love fixing gear that’s been worn into near oblivion by our customers. It means we did our job (build beautiful product for years of hard use) and you did yours (play like hell). In our 40 years…
Welcome to Patagonia’s Repair Center, where we’ll do just about anything to keep your gear in play. We love fixing gear that’s been worn into near oblivion by our customers. It means we did our job (build beautiful product for years of hard use) and you did yours (play like hell). In our 40 years…
Patagonia
5 min Read
How We Extend the Functionality of Your Gear—and Repair It
Lasting Function and a Commitment to Repair In a landscape of disposable ski and snowboard fashion, fixing and keeping your snow gear in play is the most radical act we know. On average, most of us keep a piece of clothing for just three years, yet the materials and processes for making any new garment…
Lasting Function and a Commitment to Repair In a landscape of disposable ski and snowboard fashion, fixing and keeping your snow gear in play is the most radical act we know. On average, most of us keep a piece of clothing for just three years, yet the materials and processes for making any new garment…
Patagonia
4 min Read
Notes from the Road: Worn Wear Fall 2016 Tour
We’re a little more than halfway through the tour here in the United States and can’t decide what’s worse: the summer heat down in the South or the demolition y’all do on your garments! Truthfully, we’re not fazed by either. We love the challenging repairs being thrown at us and don’t mind a bit of…
We’re a little more than halfway through the tour here in the United States and can’t decide what’s worse: the summer heat down in the South or the demolition y’all do on your garments! Truthfully, we’re not fazed by either. We love the challenging repairs being thrown at us and don’t mind a bit of…
Donnie Hedden
3 min Read
On the Road Again: Notes from the Spring 2016 Worn Wear Tour
I had forgotten about the highway head turns and hollars, the uncompromising loyalty to garments that are decades older than me, the vastness and variety of this continent. The chorus of Worn Wear sentiments sing: on the road again. Anne Graham mending cuffs on a ’90s-era Snap-T. Photo: Donnie Hedden We’ve entered our sophomore year…
I had forgotten about the highway head turns and hollars, the uncompromising loyalty to garments that are decades older than me, the vastness and variety of this continent. The chorus of Worn Wear sentiments sing: on the road again. Anne Graham mending cuffs on a ’90s-era Snap-T. Photo: Donnie Hedden We’ve entered our sophomore year…
Donnie Hedden
6 min Read
Popular searches