Patagonia’s choice

The best stereo speakers don’t sell very well at retail. That’s because making a speaker that sounds good in the store (and is easy to sell) isn’t the same thing as making one that’s great to live with for years.

Same thing is true with restaurant food, chinos, vegetables (orange oranges are easier to sell than greenish ones), cars and even workman’s comp policies. There’s a difference between shelf appeal and the long run.

Patagonia has changed the line up of clothes they make (fewer models, changed less often) and the materials they use (organic cotton, costs more) so that they are sacrificing shelf appeal for a story and for long-term performance. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always a choice you face. No, they’re not mutually exclusive (at least not always), but there are always tradeoffs.