The first thing you notice about rich people in Silicon Valley is the vest. What in god’s name is going on with all these vests?
Every city that fancies itself a seat of power has its own brand of fashion that says, look at me, I overpay for everything except taxes. In Washington, it’s an ill-fitting suit. In Silicon Valley and increasingly in its global imitators, that fashion statement has long been venture capitalist in a Patagonia vest over a collared shirt.
Patagonia, a company that objectively doesn’t suck but has been sucked into the orbit of bad companies, is trying to put an end to the bizarre corporate fashion craze that’s swallowed up suckers from Mountain View to Midtown Manhattan.
In a note first spotted by communications exec Binna Kim, Patagonia is putting its foot down and saying this can’t go on. When Kim reached out to Patagonia asking for branded vests, the response was negative:
Patagonia has nothing against your client or the finance industry, it’s just not an area they are currently marketing through our co-brand division. While they have co-branded here in the past, the brand is really focused right now on only co-branding with a small collection of like-minded and brand aligned areas; outdoor sports that are relevant to the gear we design, regenerative organic farming, and environmental activism.
BuzzFeed News reported that Patagonia is shifting its focus to “sales to other companies, non-profits and other organisations. We recently shifted the focus of this program to increase the number of Certified B Corporations, 1 per cent For The Planet members and other mission-driven companies that prioritise the planet. This shift does not affect current customers in our corporate sales program.”
It’s a weird look, no doubt, but it’s been worn proudly and purposefully like a uniform that opens doors.
I’m from New York City where, at least when I left, the power vest look was rare compared to other douchebag peacocking uniforms. I’m told now Midtown Manhattan is awash in them. Are Wall Street maniacs doing the same thing? What is happening? Take it from me (a man currently blogging with no pants on) We can do better, America.
My arrival in the San Francisco Bay Area a few years ago was an abrupt introduction to the borderline insane fashion stylings of the west coast elite. I was in a meeting with a prominent venture capitalist talking about his investments in telecom and cybersecurity companies. He was wearing just a white button down and beige slacks, a pretty decent and inoffensive get up. At the end of our meeting, he had to run down the hall to meet with a visiting U.S. senator.
As he started a jog to make sure he wasn’t late, he tossed on his branded Patagonia vest over his button down as though it was his ticket into the next, much higher level conversation. Maybe it’s not all Patagonia’s fault. Maybe this look would be totally innocuous were it removed from the stench of ladder-climbing automatons. I guess we’ll have our chance to found out.
In saying our goodbyes, let’s do poetic justice to the corporate branded Patagonia vests, clothing made from an environmentally-conscious positive-impact company, and burn them all into a toxic mountain of ash on Sand Hill Road.