Rarely do I buy (or wash) pants. That goes for jeans and snowboarding shells. Well-fitting, long-lasting pants take time to find and money to spend. So when the gems show up, hold and preserve them as long as you can… Like a good lover, but more important because the pants will probably end up being more reliable 😉
My most recent pair of snow pants, I wore for a decade. No joke. And I know it’s gross, but I don’t remember ever washing them (hoping to maximize their water-resistant life). Plus, they never touched a dryer.
Maybe it’s a little excessive to wear the same ski pants for 10 plus years. But it might also be excessive to buy a new pair every few years. I stuck with them because they kept holding up. Plain and simple. (They were made by Ride by the way).
However, the pants were droopy and heavy, and the pockets were so big I looked like a 1990s wannabe rap video. When it was finally time to replace the old-faithfuls, I wanted to put my money on a brand with a cause.
Luckily, I found one that also shares my wear-it-to-the-ground philosophy and even taught me a couple things about making clothes last (and washing them from time to time).
When it comes to covering the sustainability basis, Picture Organic Clothing has it in the eco-friendly, biodegradable, reusable bag. The brand totes a B CORP certification, “the highest distinction today for companies committed to making environmental and social responsibility a core part of their business operations,” according to their website.
Traditionally, petroleum-based materials have been woven into all mountain outerwear, then sprayed with perfluorochemicals (PFCs).
Picture makes clothes with organic, recycled, certified and toxic-free materials. Plus, they encourage repairing and up-cycling (turning old wear into something new). The European-based company even gives tips on how to make snow gear last: like waterproofing garments using beeswax, washing cork-brimmed hats, removing grease stains, and applying eco-friendly water repellents after washing.
As the search for planet-friendly replacements has only recently begun to take hold across the outdoor clothing industry, Picture is exploring many different paths. And that’s a good thing for us — nobody wants to ride down the mountain with toxic particles mixing with the air we breathe and melting into the snow.
The pants now
This season, I’m hitting the slopes in a pair of Picture Organic Apply Shell Pants, which come in dark blue or black… and have a cute little tree charm zipper.
These pants fit pretty sweet — business on top (function-forward) party on the legs (classic flare out from skinny knee). Made with 58 percent recycled polyester, they are GreenPlus Certified and have bluesign® approved fabric. Plus, they rock the Fair Wear Foundation label, ensuring proper conditions for textile workers.
The structure is clean through the pockets, seams and heavy-duty zippers. I especially like the long ankle zipper – it’s nice to easily pull pant cuffs out of snowboard bindings when strapping in. My favorite element, though, has got to be the waist.
Is the six-button powder skirt (plus belt) closure excessive? Yes. Does it make bathroom breaks a pain in the ass? Yes. But it’s worth it to stay dry. Get stuck crawling out of powder a lot (like me), and snow inevitably cakes on to the back of hot pants, creating a wet patch that creeps over the booty as the day goes on. These pants eliminate a lot of that and keep under-layers dry.
That said, the Apply Pants have a 10,000 mm waterproof rating, meaning they can stand anything but a Pacific Northwest wet blanket full day (we’ve already had several this year). Most of us avoid the straight-up rain days on the hill, but if in the wet snow a lot, go for the higher waterproofing of course, like Picture’s 20,000 mm waterproof jackets and pants.
Even though we all love the dryness of Gore-tex, it is made using endocrine-disrupting chemicals, hormonal derailments and carcinogens. So finding a new option is imperative. That’s why Picture waterproofed these pants with a PFC-free solution called Teflon EcoElite™.
It’s awesome to know there’s an effective alternative so we don’t have to coat our coats in toxins. The waterproofing tech will most likely continue to evolve as the industry shifts to sustainably-sourced materials, and as conscious consumers continue to seek out those cleaner innovations.
Side note: Yeah, it’s an alternative made by the same Teflon that mainstreamed PFCs into our homes, and eventually bodies and environment. However, the maker states, “The number of consumers and apparel brands seeking sustainable products rises each year. That’s why Chemours developed Teflon EcoElite™ finish—the first renewably sourced, plant-based, non-fluorinated durable water and water-based stain repellency finish.”
Right now, it’s the go-to for sustainable brands and may be one of the best thing we have going for a while…
Once down the rabbit hole of Picture Organic’s awesomeness, it’s hard not to fall in love. This company takes an ethical approach to all aspects of the biz — helping people who make the garments by ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions, cleaning toxins out the supply chain, cultivating positive work culture, and addressing environmental concerns through government influence.
With a claim to wipe out all fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) from operations, Picture is searching for solutions and open to new clothing technologies.
They’re not afraid to call out their own hurdles either. For example, they admit, “the ideal manufacturing model would be to build factories where our products are purchased.” However, at this time, it doesn’t make sense for their business model. (In other words, #goals).
For now, the next best thing is for all products to be shipped through maritime or optimized trucking for local deliveries. Their clothes never see an airplane.
Willingness to experiment with recycled and bio-sourced materials reveals their commitment to meaningful changes, even if it requires some experimenting.
- 84 percent of the cotton is organic,
- 69 percent of the polyester to make technical apparel comes from recycled bottles, and
- 100 percent of the wool and leather come from humanely treated animals and contains no toxic chemicals.
Not a bad place to be on the journey towards sustainability. It’s safe to say the company is leading the way for other brands to observe what works and commit to better solutions too.
As Picture states, “Only a long-term vision and approach are acceptable given the serious environmental issues currently facing society and our planet.”