Are you in the market for Patagonia clothing but afraid you might get ripped off by some of the more nefarious dealers that market and sell fake gear? If so, you have come to the right place.
In this article we will not only provide a quick story about Patagonia and the clothing and accessories they sell, we will also explain several tips and tricks for spotting fake Patagonia gear—gear that is often sold both online and in alternative marketplaces.
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What Is Patagonia Gear?
The term “Patagonia gear” refers to the outdoor apparel and outdoor accessories that are marketed and sold by the Patagonia Company—a “multi-million dollar US apparel corporation that sells sustainable outdoor clothing and other apparel items.”
Started in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia is a lot more than just another company selling outdoor trousers, shirts, shorts, hats and outerwear. The company is also heavily involved in environmental causes and is known to put its money where its mouth is.
The ethical and environmental causes championed by Chouinard and the Patagonia company have not gone unnoticed by its most loyal customers, many of whom choose to support the company solely because of its principled environmental activism.
A good portion of Patagonia’s profits is sunk into fighting for issues like climate change and the destruction of rain forests, which is why it so maddening that a whole host of reprehensible vendors try to trick people into purchasing fake Patagonia gear.
As an avid outdoorsman himself, Chouinard’s charitable and earth-centered efforts have inspired a whole new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers—people who respect and admire Patagonia’s stance on these issues and who fume at the prospect of potentially getting ripped off by a dealer who does not share their viewpoint.
If this describes you, read on to see how you can spot fake Patagonia gear before your money gets into the wrong hands.
Tips For Spotting Fake Patagonia Gear
With the growing popularity of the Internet as a primary marketplace, more and more people are ending up on the receiving end of despicable market practices, specifically the selling of fake gear.
Buyers of this counterfeit gear are not only losing money to these schemes, they are sometimes relying on this bogus gear to protect them while engaging in outdoor activities, a reliance on sub-par gear that could end up yielding tragic results.
To help you avoid this fate, in this section we will focus heavily on the question of “how to spot fake Patagonia gear” before you unknowingly get taken for a ride.
Before we continue, it’s important that you understand what we mean by “fake” when it comes to this type of gear. Because the Patagonia name is so popular among fans of the outdoors, including backpackers and hikers, many smaller companies will attempt to design similar-looking products and place their own name on the label.
These products, which are called “knockoffs,” are legal and are not considered “fake” in the context of this article. Instead, here we are speaking about replica products.
Like the “knockoff” dealers, sellers who make replicas not only design their apparel to closely resemble the real thing—in this case Patagonia—they then put a fake Patagonia label on the product and try to pass it off as the real.
This practice, along with the products they sell, is what we mean by “fake,” and although the practice is very illegal throughout the United States, there are still many crooked dealers that are willing to take that risk and put your money into their pockets.
So without further ado, here are four tips/tricks you can employ that will assist you in spotting fake Patagonia gear.
The practice of comparing images applies mostly to online shopping, although it can also be used when shopping at, say, a swap meet or discount outlet, provided you have your cell phone with you.
If you come across a piece of “Patagonia” gear when shopping, and you have questions about the authenticity of that piece of clothing or outdoor accessory, you should definitely hit the pause button for a minute and compare the image you are seeing with an image of the same item on the Patagonia website – Patagonia.com.
In doing this, you’ll be able to look at the two items side by side and inspect any discrepancies between the two in order to confirm the legitimacy of the questionable item.
When comparing an online sale item to the genuine article of clothing on the Patagonia website, there are several things for which you can look to either confirm or refute your suspicions. For example, when you come across a piece of outerwear, such as the Patagonia Nano Puff jacket, try searching for that same product on the actual website to check the colors in which that jacket is available.
If the item you want to buy is yellow, for instance, and you discover that Patagonia does not offer that color in the Nano Puff coat, you can be sure you found a fake.
Also, be sure to check the zippers when comparing images. Does the jacket have the correct number of zippers? Are those zippers in the right place?
Pockets are another design feature you can examine by checking the number and placement of those pockets. Sometimes, these fake dealers will get the number of pockets correct, but instead of having horizontally-placed front pockets like the genuine Nano Puff jacket, the fake item will have angled pockets.
Finally, you should always check the stitching and compare it with the real thing. A genuine article of Patagonia gear will follow a stringent stitching pattern that is very repeatable thanks to the quality of their sewing equipment.
Dealers peddling fake Patagonia gear may not follow this strict sewing pattern, thus exposing that article of clothing as fake. You should also look for visibly-poor stitching mistakes, such as loose or hanging threads and missed or uneven stitches.
Rarely will a genuine piece of Patagonia gear have such obvious errors in stitching.
Simply put, you can tell a whole lot about an article of outdoor wear just by comparing the image of an on-sale item with that of the real thing.
What about the Serial Number?
Fortunately for shoppers, some of the counterfeit clothing dealers out there are a bit lax when it comes to the finite details—details like the label or tag on the piece of clothing or outerwear. This is especially true when it comes to online sellers, as they are betting you will not ask about a silly little detail like the label.
Therefore, whenever you have doubts—and whenever it is possible—be certain to check the tag.
Okay, you’re going to check the tag. But what are you looking for when you perform this search? Every piece of Patagonia gear has a type of serial number on the tag.
This is also called a SKU number—the number that shows the price of the item when a cashier enters it into the computer, and a number that is used for stock keeping purposes. The sequence of this serial number always follows the same pattern: five numbers, then one letter, then one more number.
For instance, the serial number on a Patagonia tag may resemble the following: 67341W9. Here the first five numbers represent the SKU identifier, and the last two characters tell you when the product was first made available to the public, in this case the Winter of 2019.
If you believe you might be getting taken with a piece of fake Patagonia gear, check the label to ensure the item’s tag follows the pattern of characters we described above.
Last but not least, you probably knew we were eventually going to get around to the topic of “price,” which is one of the best ways to discern a fake item from a genuine Patagonia beauty. Because of its quality and the company’s well-earned reputation, Patagonia gear tends to be a little bit on the pricey side.
Naturally, crooked and counterfeit dealers know this fact all too well. As such, they try to lure eager buyers with rock-bottom prices on their fake products, hoping someone will take the bait. And sadly, many do.
When you are in the market for outdoor wear, please understand that there is a big difference between sale prices and those price tags that seem too good to be true. As the saying goes, “if it seems too good to be true it probably isn’t.”
Let’s say the regular price for a Patagonia jacket or coat is $250. That is obviously a fairly steep price—but a price for which many backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts would surely pony up during the colder winter months.
Now say you are shopping in a store during the summertime and you see that same coat for $200—exactly 20 percent off the manufacturer’s price. This price is probably legit for two reasons.
First, the coat is being sold in a store, and most dealers would not chance their reputation by selling fake items. Second, the coat is currently “out of season” and 20 percent off during this time of year is not unreasonable or hard to believe.
On the flip side, if you are shopping online and spot the same coat for $25 or $50, odds are the coat is either fake or VERY used. Use your best judgement when it comes to pricing and you should be just fine.
By comparing images against each other (looking for things like zippers, pockets and stitching), checking the serial number, and studying the price, you can usually spot the fake Patagonia rip-offs and hold on to your hard-earned money.
Where To Buy Legit Patagonia Gear
If you want to save yourself some headache and be certain that you’re buying real Patagonia merchandise, then there are a few trusted places that you can shop.
These are our favorite outdoor retailers that carry authentic Patagonia clothes and other gear.