I doubt that my recent experience contacting Patagonia had much to do with their decision to list the country of origins of all their products online, but it couldn’t have hurt.
The engaged consumer in me jumped for joy when I read the recent announcement on their blog The Cleanest Line:
…Making our factory list public directly addressed customer concerns about Patagonia’s adherence to socially responsible manufacturing. But it opened the door for the next big question, “If Patagonia is looking for full transparency, why not publish the country of origin for each product in the printed and on-line catalogs?”
We’re happy to announce that we’re doing exactly that…
In the past, we responded to a different customer demand about the origin of our products. The message then was clear: Just tell us which products are made in the U.S.A. Our online country-of-origin information evolved to do this, stating which articles were “Made in U.S.A.,” while leaving the rest to be identified simply as “Imported.”
With the passage of time and evolution of consumer awareness, this earlier accommodation of customer requests has come to appear neglectful at best, and at worst, a purposeful attempt to hide an ugly truth. But global manufacturing concerns have changed drastically in a very short time, and customer concerns have shifted from simply wanting to know what’s made in the U.S.A., to wanting to know the country of origin for all products.
… We’re happy to announce that the older “Imported” and “Made in U.S.A.” designations have been updated for all products on Patagonia.com to reflect each item’s country of origin. Look for this information as one of the bullet items mentioned under the “Details” section on any product page.
Now, that’s putting the responsibility in corporate responsibility. Yes, I’m looking (down) at you Ecko Manufacturing.