Farlows and Patagonia - A perfect fit...
Farlows: Hi Toni, thank you very much for joining us, your name will not be familiar to many of our readers so perhaps you could tell us a little bit about yourself?
Toni: I was born in Finland and have been fly fishing since I was 14-years-old. I took our old family name, Corenius to keep it alive, but I am better known in the fishing community as Toni Karuvaara.
My start in the fly fishing world came through fly fishing stores in Helsinki, prior to moving to gear manufacturer, Guideline Sweden AB. I worked there for seven years and was responsible for sales in Finland, Russia and the Baltics. I also launched and edited a fishing magazine, ‘Casting Silver’ with a long-term friend, Juha.
After the birth of my youngest son I took some time out to spend time with my family prior to joining Patagonia. My biggest passion in fly fishing has always being salmon fishing and saltwater fishing, although I also enjoy all outdoor sports, especially hunting.
Farlows: And how did your association with Patagonia begin?
Toni: For me working for Patagonia is a dream come true, I have always loved the brand and what it stands for, it’s not just a brand making clothing. I started providing support for the brand to the outdoor stores in Finland and this was a great learning curve as I gained experience in the outdoor market very quickly.
Because of my past and my passion for fishing I was fortunate to be offered the role as Fishing Manager for Patagonia Europe a year ago. I’ve never looked back, fair to say I’m very happy doing what I’m doing!
Farlows: Of course Patagonia supply clothing and equipment for a number of different disciplines, not just angling. Can you tell us a little more?
Toni: Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard started out as a climber and in 1965 he went into business making climbing tools from a tin shed close to the beach in Ventura, CA - where our headquarters are still located.
From 1973, Patagonia grew out of that small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing – as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running.
As a climber and a passionate fly fisherman and surfer, Yvon, and his wife Malinda, continue to drive the company to answer the needs of the pursuits they are most passionate about. These are all silent sports, not requiring a motor or an audience and in each sport, fishing in particular, reward comes from the skills learnt, being in the outdoors and the connection we have with nature.
Being privately owned enables us to stay true to our core values and mission statement ‘Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’
Farlows: Is there any cross over between the disciplines? What, for example, does the technology used in surfing or snowboarding lend to fly fishing?
Toni: Patagonia’s diverse product range is a real advantage. We learnt many things answering the needs of different disciplines which are often of benefit across all of the pursuits we cater for.
For all of these, the approach we take towards product design demonstrates a bias towards simplicity and utility. The quality and functionality needed for a climber in the harshest mountain terrains teach us a lot that will be of direct benefit to a fisherman exploring similarly remote and extreme wildernesses.
Next-to-skin clothing such as our Capilene® baselayers are essential for mountaineers, drawing moisture away from the body and promoting warmth and dry against the body.
Similarly, the sun protection provided by a surfer’s rash vest is utilized in clothing built to cope with the demands of sun drenched salt flats. Synthetic mid-layers such as our Nano-Air Hoody create a warm environment for a back-country skier, but are also intended for fisherman who may be braving the elements of Alaska in pursuit of Salmon.These mid-layers deliver a huge range of stretch, softness, comfort and warmth, whilst not absorbing water or impeding breathability.
Our H2No standard outer shells, such as the River Salt Jacket perfect for wet weather fishing in Scotland, offers the same waterproof performance that is needed by an ice climber, delivering breathable, supple and comfortable protection from rain, snow and ice.
Farlows: So, tell us a little more about the technology that anglers benefit from when they choose Patagonia fly fishing products.
Toni: I think the great thing for any fisherman is to know that our products are the most environmentally friendly products on the market, and best in class materials used for that specific sport.
Due to our support for those that participate in the silent sports, Alpinism, Surf, Mountaineering, Trail Running, we understand the critical role that product and layering systems play in protection.
This enables us to pick the best fabrics from a multi-discipline background to build the best product. In our waders for example we don’t use pre-made materials from factories which other brands may do. We design and build our own to ensure they pass out stringent quality and performance standards.
Farlows: That’s great news for us anglers, but it’s not just pure tech. is it? I’m told fit is key too – Patagonia’s new waders for example?
Toni: Yes, the fit plays a huge role in the comfort and performance of a wader, so this is of utmost importance to a customer when they are wearing them in the field.
We have a group of customers called the ‘Wader Task Force’ who gave us feedback on the fit of the old waders. We fed this back to the design team in Ventura and they really took on this on board. As a result, for Spring 16 we have a much more European fit, being slimmer and better cut. With all the new features and upgrades they just look super nice. I think our Wader Task Force have done a great job on this product.
Farlows: What other product innovations are in the pipeline, anything you can reveal?
Toni: I Can’t tell you all (laughs) but there are some really exciting changes on our fully waterproof Stormfront packs and some great upgrades on our Field Gear products that can be used in fishing. You guys will see soon…
Farlows: So there is now a collaboration between Farlows and Patagonia in the shape of a Shop-in-Shop in Pall Mall? Will Patagonia be showcasing their entire collection?
Toni: We are proud to be launching a new Shop-in-Shop with Farlows in Spring 2016. By our definition this is a destination where someone embarking upon any level or type of discipline can find an extensive representation of our product to answer their needs.
We have a long history of working with Farlows. With the combination of your unsurpassed expertise and a comprehensive representation of clothing and equipment developed over more than 40 years of experience, we are very excited to create a concept within the Pall Mall store where the angler can be fitted out from head to toe.
Farlows: Many anglers will not be aware of Patagonia’s environmental campaigning; can you tell us a little more about this?
Toni: We believe in the power of the grassroots to affect positive change. These groups often have less than five paid staffers; some are run entirely by volunteers. Instead of giving large sums to a handful of causes, we give modest grants—up to $12,000 each—to hundreds of groups every year for whom this money makes a world of difference.
As a company that uses resources and produces waste, we recognize our impact on the environment and feel a responsibility to give back. For us, it’s not charity or traditional philanthropy. It’s part of the cost of doing business. We call it our Earth Tax.
More fish related, The World Trout Initiative program was born in 1999 from a meeting between James Prosek and Patagonia owner Yvon Chouinard. Hearing the stories of James’ efforts to catch various trout around the world, and the dramatic challenges these fish are facing, Yvon was motivated to help. The World Trout Initiative’s mission is simple: To identify the individuals and groups that protect native fish, to tell their story and to support their conservation efforts by placing money into their hands. By telling a compelling story and providing the angler and interested parties with a call to action, we felt we could make something happen.
As part of this program, we’ve been supporting The Wye & Usk Foundation, a registered charity concerned with ecology and, more specifically, restoring the habitat, water quality and fisheries of the rivers Wye and Usk. We currently support their project on improving water quality, fish access and habitat on the River Arrow (a tributary in the Wye catchment)
More recently we’ve been supporting the local community of kayakers and fishermen who joined forces in ’Save the Conwy’ initiative to oppose the plan of the German company RWE NPower, in association with Dulas (a North Wales renewable energy consultants) to dam and divert up to 75% of the flow. The Afon Conwy represents the jewel in the crown of North Wales’ wild mountain rivers. The Conwy Valley is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of the river lies within the Snowdonia National Park.
Patagonia is supporting 'Save the Conwy' initiative as part of our New Localism platform that we launched last spring. We believe we are all locals and that living in a global world it’s our responsibility to protect the places we play. That is the reason why we helped the ‘Save the Conwy’ local team with social media support for their petition as part of our Damnation campaign. Yvon Chouinard wrote a letter to the Park Authorities in support of the local team. The petition is today close to 5000 signatures. The pressure helped in postponing the decision making date, and any additional support your customers could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Farlows: That’s good news for all of us who care about our environment, what are the current campaigns, and where can we find out more about them?
Toni: DamNation is a film odyssey that explores the sea change in attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Patagonia has been involved in trying to take out obsolete and damaging dams since 1993 – and DamNation has played a major role in spurring momentum this year. Most recently, large crowds have drawn international headlines while protesting the construction of a large dam in southwestern France.
Since its release in March 2014, our film DamNation and our Crackdown on Deadbeat Dams campaign that accompanied it have done much to educate and activate audiences around the world. As of May 2015, DamNation had screened publicly more than 380 times in 30 countries and won 19 major awards at film festivals around the world. More than 100 environmental nonprofits have shown it, encouraging viewers to sign petitions and join campaigns.
In Finland, dambuster/actor/Patagonia ambassador Jasper Pääkkönen is raising public awareness about Helsinki’s dammed Old Town rapids and the sea-run brown trout and Atlantic salmon blocked by an unnecessary dam. That, along with a visit and speech in the Finnish parliament by DamNation producer Matt Stoecker, has resulted in widespread support for taking out this and other dams in Finland.
Farlows: So Farlows’ customers who purchase Patagonia will be helping the planet as well as getting some of best gear there is! That’s no bad thing, we look forward to seeing you in-store soon!
Thank you Toni.
Toni: Thanks again for you guys too, it’s always pleasure to visit your beautiful store and meet the friendly staff. You guys rock!