Yvon Chouinard is an American climber who did not plan to do business at all, but turned into a real billionaire. His Patagonia is today one of the world’s largest manufacturers of outdoor clothing for tourism.

Founding of Chouinard Equipment

Chouinard began to independently manufacture equipment in 1957. He was from a family with little income. I had no ambitions to build my own business. But one day he realized that he was involuntarily turning into a businessman. After all, the number of those wishing to purchase equipment from Yvon grew. A few years later, he had a business partner – aeronautical engineer Tom Frost. The climber cites simplicity as one of the keys to success.

Chouinard Equipment’s hardware was easily recognizable by its smooth lines. It was the lightest, stronger and more versatile piece of equipment in use at the time. Where other developers added more and more new details, Tom Frost and I, on the contrary, cut off all unnecessary – reduced weight, dimensions, but without sacrificing strength and reliability, “says Yvon Chouinard’s book” Patagonia. Surfing business “.

The popularity of the equipment from year to year multiplied the profits of Yvona and his companions, who were joined by his wife Malindi. And until 1970, Chouinard Equipment developed into the largest supplier of climbing equipment in the United States.

Stoppers and hexes

At the same time, the company took its first serious steps towards environmental awareness. Chouinard was very upset that the massive use of steel hooks by tourists is very damaging to the rocks.

“Hooks are our main source of income. But they destroy rocks. And we love rocks. Fortunately, there was an alternative: aluminum wedges that could be inserted into cracks rather than hammered. British climbers have long used them. But their wedges were flawed.” , therefore, did not inspire confidence among tourists in Europe and the United States, “- said Yvon Chouinard.

Therefore, Yvon and company have developed their own version of such equipment – stoppers and hexes. A whole army of dissenting climbers rebelled against the inventors, who called the novelty unreliable. But Chouinard personally proved the strength of the stoppers by climbing El Capitan Rock in Yosemite Park. After that, the tourists began to sweep the wedges out like hot cakes.

How Patagonia came about

In 1972, Chouinard and his partners opened a shop and began making clothes and backpacks that were characterized by functionality and extreme durability. For example, they produced shorts with such a dense fabric that they jokingly called them “standing shorts”. Yvon didn’t want to release gear and clothing under one label. Therefore, another brand appeared – Patagonia. The name of one of the regions of South America.

Choinard Equipment Lawsuits

Chouinard’s company over and over again amazed shoppers with breakthroughs in the development of travel clothing. Yvonne and his partners have developed polypropylene thermal insulation underwear. Such material was “spied” in the production of diapers.

Together with the Malden Mills factory, they invented the sinchilla fabric – a very soft double-sided fleece with a strong pile. And, unlike competitors, Patagonia did not make clothes in gloomy dark, but in bold bright colors.

However, things did not always go smoothly. Lawsuits rained down on Choinard Equipment in the 1980s. Several people were injured while using this equipment. And they blamed the company for not communicating potential dangers properly. The corporation decided not to bring the case to court and paid compensation.

In 1989, Choinard Equipment went bankrupt. The former employees bought out a majority stake, moved to Salt Lake City and founded their own company, Black Diamond Equipment. Chouinaru remained Patagonia, which made clothes.


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