The outdoor brand’s sales numbers ticked up after it sued the president.
And fleece they bought, according to sales data from Slice Intelligence, a company that measures online shopping. Slice compared each day last week to sales numbers on November 1, a day unaffected by external factors—a shopping holiday like Black Friday, or Patagonia’s anti-Trump statement. (Slice Intelligence partners with online retailers to obtain sales data but does not work directly with Patagonia. Patagonia declined to comment for this story, or answer GQ’s request for internal sales numbers.) On Tuesday, the day immediately following the late-afternoon statement, Patagonia’s external web sales—that is, Patagonia gear sold online by non-Patagonia retailers, according to Slice—were six times higher than a typical day. And shopping goodwill remained strong the entire week: Sales were more than five times higher on Wednesday and five times higher on Thursday. Overall, sales were 7 percent stronger the week of the statement than they were the previous week—which included Cyber Monday.
The takeaway: In Trump’s America, it pays to be part of the #resistance. That’s not to impugn the brand’s motives, actions, or statements—it’s just to note that, in this case, they exist hand-in-hand with a display of masterful marketing. And with Patagonia, those two things are never mutually exclusive.
Over the summer, Abe Streep at Outside magazine looked at how Patagonia and CEO Yvon Chouinard have made a killing off of activism. “The whole outdoor industry is just run by a bunch of weenies,” Chouinard told Outside. “And they’re not stepping up. They just suck the life out of outdoor resources and give nothing away.” But Chouinard has learned that conducting business with ethics and politics in mind also makes financial sense.
“What we are doing is stealing other companies’ business,” Chouinard explained. “You do the right thing, it leads to more business. What am I going to do, say no?” This was in July, almost half a year before last week’s statements. The philosophy rings even truer now. While Patagonia blacked out its homepage, brands like REI put out statements that seemed lukewarm in comparison. REI wrote, “We will continue to pursue bipartisan support to protect public lands” and called on customers to change their profile pictures on social media to a pre-made graphic that read “We [Heart] Our Public Lands.” In our newly electrified political environment, it seems, half-measures won’t do.
Over the weekend, the House Committee on Natural Resources—a congressional committee helmed by Utah Republican Rob Bishop that oversees legislation pertaining to public lands, wildlife, and mining among other topics—responded to Patagonia by mimicking its white-font-over-black-space statement. “Patagonia is lying to you,” the graphic declared, and was accompanied by a tweet. “[Patagonia] just wants your money,” the HCNR claimed. What the committee might not have realized was that Patagonia’s hardest-core customers didn’t see that as an insult. Just the opposite: They were ready to pay up.