When I hear the word “Patagonia,” the neurons in my brain set off a chain reaction of images: fleeces, down jackets, the black and blue of the South American ridgeline that makes up its logo. Since I was a kid — before I knew what a brand or a company was — I’ve regarded Patagonia as a maker of outdoorsy goods. The company just released its 2019 fall/winter collection, and yes, it’s chock-full of technical pieces that I can’t wait to take into the mountains. But there’s one highlight I wasn’t expecting: denim.
Yep, denim. Last fall Patagonia expanded into a somewhat unlikely category, workwear, igniting a mixed response of high praise and skeptical criticism. “I’ll stick to Carhartt and Wranglers,” wrote one of our readers. Nevertheless, Patagonia Workwear, which focuses on durability and sustainability with high-grade materials like industrial hemp, has forged ahead. Steel Forge Denim is the newest addition to the line, and it makes an appearance in a jacket and a pair of work pants.
To create a super-durable blend of denim, Patagonia mixed 92 percent organic cotton with eight percent Dyneema, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fiber that’s stronger than steel. Patagonia claims that its inclusion in Steel Forge Denim more than doubles the tear resistance of the material, making it ideal for the high-wear tasks workwear has to stand up to. Patagonia also uses natural indigo grown in Tennessee instead of the far less sustainable synthetic stuff.
Workwear has to be ultra-rugged to be successful, so Steel Forge Denim shows that Patagonia’s head is in the right place as it expands deeper into this new category. It also went a step further, though, because both the Steel Forge Denim Jacket and Pants look pretty damn stylish, too.