Dec. 24, 2012
-- "In what could be called the next generation of wetsuit innovation, outdoor equipment company Patagonia has announced a breakthrough in its plant-based alternative to neoprene." The new line is made with 60% Yulex. Yulex is a “bio-rubber created from the bark of the guayule (Parthenium argentatum),”
which is a flowering shrub in the family aster that typically grows in open desert lands. Part of the uniqueness of the new wetsuit line is the materials UV resistance, flexibility and warmth.
At this time these wetsuits are only available in Japan by custom ordering, but as announced by Jason McCaffrey, the company surf director, the greatest achievements for these suits has yet to come. Currently the company plans to launch the release of these suits in the United States by the end of next year. ESPN quoted Patagonia stating, “Our goal is to have the 100 percent Yulex option available by spring 2014.” The company is striving to reach this goal with the hope that this suit will replace neoprene suits, a material invented in the 1930's that has caused allergic reactions for some, entirely.
Patagonia even suggests that their competitors make the switch from Neoprene to Yulex due to the eco-friendly nature of the newly patent material. Part of Patagonia's concern is that without competitors making the switch these new suits will not be affordable to everyone, which is not what the company wants. McCaffrey stated, “We need the competition to try and meet that demand and get that business. When that happens, volume goes up and cost goes down. The power of making this happen lies in the surf population itself. If all surfers demand it, I can guarantee the industry will deliver.”
This all ties into the active nature of Patagonia as a company, striving to help everyone become more environmentally aware. As part of their goal the company strives to discontinue all uses of eco-abusive materials. The new wetsuit line utilizing Yulex as the primary material has come about in result of four years of research with Yulex Corporation in Arizona. Yulex Corporation promotes themselves as a private, health-friendly, sustainable company.
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