Del Día Collection:
By: Max Stockdale
When you think of Cotopaxi, you probably think bright, bold color palettes, vivid hues, and retro design to bring your maybe understated wardrobe to life; but they are much more than their aesthetic appeal. Cotopaxi is also known for something else: Doing Good.
With the help of some illustrated graphics, you will learn the behind the scenes of this company and what makes it such a lasting design brand. To break this story down, we will focus on Cotopaxi’s Del Día Collection and specifically, their Allpa Travel Pack.
By the end of this article you will learn:
-What clothing production has to do with the planet
-Some of the material they use
-And how these relate to their overall goal of ending poverty
The Allpa 42L Travel Pack protects and comfortably carries all your gear, whether it’s on your back, strapped to the roof of your car, or in the cockpit of your kayak. This Del Día bag uses repurposed fabrics, making each pack one-of-a-kind.
The materials a brand uses can make a big impact on the environment. Producing synthetic fibers for the textile industry accounted for 1.35% of global oil consumption in 2021 — that’s more than the annual oil consumption of Spain.
Fortunately, there are less resource-intensive ways to create clothes. For instance, by using recycled or remnant materials. Cotopaxi aims to have every product comply with at least two of what its brand leaders call the three Rs — remnant, recycled and responsible — by 2025. It’s an effort to create new wears using materials already in circulation.
In the case of the Allpa Travel pack, the outer layer is made from repurposed nylon while the inside is made up of recycled polyester. By using recycled fabrics, Cotopaxi makes use of what’s already out there and helps reduce its reliance on creating more plastic. Using remnant fabric gives a use to material that could otherwise end up in landfills, which are a major source of climate-warming emissions. Next, you will meet the director of impact and sustainability, Annie Agle, and what role she plays.
So, what do the three R’s mean to Cotopaxi designers? Let’s look first at recycled and remnant. You’re likely most familiar with the former: Recycled fabric is usually made from recycled yarn, which can come from a variety of sources, including plastic bottles and fishing nets, says Oriana Delgado, materials development manager at Cotopaxi. Remnant fabric, on the other hand, is material that was produced but was not used. Because most fabrics have a shelf life of between six months and a year (quality decreases over that time), and that leftover fabric could ultimately end up in a landfill. However, this design approach is one of the driving missions behind Cotopaxi.
So, how much less is your environmental footprint as a consumer when you purchase outerwear made from recycled or remnant materials? A 2017 study by the Federal Office for the Environment showed that recycled polyester could reduce emissions by up to 32% compared to virgin polyester. Cotopaxi has used 800,000 yards of remnant fabric for its Del Día Collection, keeping over 3 million yards of fabric from going to waste. To put that in perspective: That much fabric could stretch more than 1,800 miles, or about the distance from Pittsburgh to their headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. So yeah, it’s a lot.
Protecting the environment is one piece of the larger Cotopaxi mission, which is to help lift communities out of poverty. The two are intertwined, because climate change is a major contributor to global poverty.
A warming climate can affect communities in many ways, such as by causing an increase in extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires and droughts. These disasters increase financial strain by causing destruction to homes and resources and contributing to food scarcity, among other things.
“Our mission has always been to end extreme poverty in our lifetime, but poverty obviously, like any issue … is multifaceted. It’s complex. It’s a moving target,” Agle explains. “We know that climate change is already really harming communities.”
What role does a backpack play in all of this? When a brand mitigates its use or production of planet-harming resources, it lessens its contribution to climate change. That’s why making a backpack from recycled materials matters — it’s making use of existing materials to prevent them from going to a landfill and to cut down on the resource-intensive process of making new stuff from scratch.
Additionally, each year, the brand allocates 1% of its revenue to its charitable arm, the Cotopaxi Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofits that help fight poverty around the globe. Those donations have a big impact. According to the brand’s impact report, Cotopaxi helped more than 1 million people in 2021.
So, the next time you pick up a Cotopaxi product, whether it’s the Allpa Travel pack or the Fuego down-jacket, you’ll know that you’re making a decision beyond what will look cool on the trail. You’re also supporting a broader mission to protect the planet and its people.