More activewear for King Street

Looks like Mountain Equipment Co-op has some new competition on King Street West. Patagonia, a California-based retailer that specializes in eco-conscious clothing for outdoor sports, has opened its first Canadian location at 500 King Street West, just west of Spadina.

Patagonia carries a range of clothing and gear for men, women and children, for activities such as hiking, climbing, surfing, yoga, skiing and snowboarding. It also sells packs and other travel gear.

The clothing is designed, the company says, with “a bias for simplicity, utility and quality.”

I like its collection of heavy duty winter jackets, a few of which look like they’d be ideal for a cold day of snowboarding. While they’re pretty pricey, I don’t doubt that the high quality insulation is well worth the price for anyone who spends time outdoors during a Canadian winter.

Overall, Patagonia’s collection seems pretty similar to the one offered by Mountain Equipment Co-op, though less comprehensive – Patagonia doesn’t seem to have the extensive footwear, cycling or camping offerings that MEC is well known for.

The two companies also share a similar commitment to sustainability. Patagonia uses recycled polyester in many of its items, and uses organic, rather than pesticide-intensive, cotton. It has a mandate to manufacture products with processes that cause the least harm to the environment. The company also “rigorously” polices its waste and uses a portion of sales to support environmental groups.

Overall, this is a pretty admirable commitment to a cause that not enough retailers support. Maybe this is part of the appeal that Patagonia has among consumers. It’s certainly been successful outside of Canada, with more than 50 stores throughout the United States and overseas.

At a time when sales of technical athletic apparel at stores like Lululemon Athletica continue to climb, I’d say Patagonia stands a good chance at succeeding in the Canadian market.

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