Unnatural performance from a natural source
It’s no secret that Patagonia make some of the world’s highest-quality eco-friendly wetsuits – in fact, they actively encourage the sharing of their knowledge and resources. They've worked to combat the harmful and damaging processes associated with neoprene production to create a wetsuit that minimises the environmental, ecological, and economic impact of the entire process. We’ll take a brief look at their development history, what’s changed in the new Yulex range (and what the big deal is), and how Patagonia are shaping the future of the entire outdoor industry.
A history of innovation
Patagonia have been experimenting with FSC certified plant-based rubber for a decade, and their Yulex suits have been in circulation for a fair few years. Previous iterations are well-known for their quality and durability, but also their reduced stretch when compared with other less-eco-friendly wetsuits. After establishing that it was possible to produce a functional wetsuit from natural sources, Patagonia & Yulex have driven to refine their outstanding wetsuit - stabilising the material and improving stretch.
So why the hype?
To put it briefly – it’s now insanely stretchy, and that makes all the difference. There’s been a heap of other small changes to the lining and construction of the new wetsuit range – as Patagonia say ‘really just complementing the experience’ – but it’s all about the stretch. We’ve spoken to brand reps, ambassadors, and even got into, and out of, a few ourselves – the new Yulex wetsuit is way stretchier, comfier and just as quality. And now it’s Fair Trade too.
“You can run as many lab tests you want on the stretch, but every surfer knows, until you get into that suit, that’s when you know, you just feel it right away.”
Getting greener all the time
Patagonia’s wetsuit range reduces the carbon output of the wetsuit manufacturing process by 80% - even alone this is a significant improvement – and whilst it’s not fully ‘green’ it’s certainly greener. The positive impact doesn’t stop at an environmental level though, Patagonia have rapidly expanded their Fair Trade offering over the years - from 11 lines in 2014 to a 480 in 2017, and now the 2018 Yulex range is the first ever Fair Trade and FSC certified wetsuit.
Fair Trade and FSC certified – a humbling story
Patagonia have been a huge driving force behind Fair Trade certified garment production over the past years – and for good reason. As well as workplace standards of health, safety and wellbeing, their practices now ensure that they pay a premium that goes directly to the workers. Their Yulex manufacturing process utilises Forest Stewardship Council certified sources for their hevea rubber. This culture of equality, preservation and sustainability is one that we’re proud to carry and promote at Freeze.
Let us know if you’re local
We’ve recently introduced FreezeCycle – our wetsuit recycling scheme. You'll need to drop into our Edinburgh store to participate but we're hoping to roll out the programme to the UK (and maybe wider) pretty soon. Bring in your old and used neoprene to be sent for repurposing by the lovely folks at Loved&Upcycled - in return we're offering you money off a new wetsuit and discount from Loved&Upcycled's online store. Find out more over here.