I am totally with you Craig W.
Patagonia can be expensive but many of their items that I have bought have become favorite pieces of mine. At my urging, many of my friends have also picked up a piece of Patagonia here and there -- suffice to say each piece of Patagonia gear becomes a treasured item, worn almost nonstop.
One thing that I think is important to note is that Patagonia is a private company not beholden to investors, shareholders, or even a parent company. They answer only to themselves, and to that end can provide a product that does not need to meet an artificial set of goals imposed upon them by some one or another, subject to whims of investors and trends of a market.
In that respect I have often found Patagonia's products appealing, and also satisfying. Their gear is equally at home in urban and daily life, and on the trail, and although not shaving every ounce, are trim and lean enough that there's rarely extraneous widgets to clutter up the end product. Their products never feel made to check bullet points, but rather to fit a real need, something I feel quite a few other companies fail at from time to time. Let's not kid ourselves, except for the luckiest of us, we spend only a handful of days a month out on the rock or the trail, and it is nice to have something that works for both parts of our dual lives.
I also appreciate that Patagonia is always forwards-thinking about how they can run a business ethically as well as environmentally friendly, yet the end result, the product, still leads the pack.
Let My People Go Surfing is a pretty great origin story. Chouinard certainly is a man with a powerful vision and an incredible ability to see it through. The respect with which Chouinard treats people, and the respect that Patagonia shows its customers, its staff, and its manufacturers, is certainly the kind of thing the world could do to have a bit more of.
I don't always elect to buy Patagonia over their competitors when I need something, but I always consider them because I like their environmental responsibility policy, the Ironclad Guarantee, their incredible customer service, and their product design philosophy.