Book Review: Dressed for Success in the Great Outdoors ; Yvon Chouinard Is a Maverick, but Can Other Budding Entrepreneurs Learn from His Management Techniques and Company Values to Maximise Their Bottom Line?; LET MY PEOPLE GO SURFING BY YVON CHOUINARD Pounds 15.48, THE PENGUIN PRESS
Trapp, Roger, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Yvon Chouinard is not very well known in Britain. But in the US and, to a lesser extent, in mainland Europe, he is revered as the founder of Patagonia Inc, the maker of outdoor clothing that is not only highly effective for skiers, climbers and the like but is also among the most stylish of its type.
Chouinard claims to have a problem with this last part, since it means not everyone wearing his products is a diehard outdoors type. But without them, Patagonia would probably neither enjoy its levels of sales (more than $200m a year at last count) nor its impact. Patagonia is an example of how a company run by a person with strong beliefs can use its products and market them to spread those beliefs among the public.
It has been a pioneer in the use of organic cotton, in using recycled plastic bottles to make its 'fleece' garments, and " through its decision to donate 1 per cent of sales to environmental and related causes " has done a great deal to put sustainability on the political agenda in the US, Europe and Japan.
As the book's subtitle, 'the education of a reluctant businessman' suggests, Chouinard never sought to be the head of a multi-million-dollar company. He says he only first started making mountaineering equipment and then the clothing associated with it because he wanted access to better stuff. But, having found himself in this role, he has seen the opportunity it provides to, if not change the world, then at least change some people's perceptions of it.
Forty-odd years after he first started, Chouinard remains a maverick. His business approach is 'management by absence' " meaning that he spends part of the year testing the goods and coming up with new ideas through indulging his passions for climbing, surfing, fly- fishing, canoeing and being outdoors. …