I confess, St. Boulder, I hath used the word "Patagonia" in vain.

I have long used the term as an insult, typically in the same context as "dirt bag" or "trustafarian," or as a curse to punctuate my distress over Boulder's fashion scene. Alas! Patagonia!

I'd never actually worn Patagonia before. And the closest I'd ever come to polar fleece was a gag gift Snuggie, which I ended up sleeping with every night for two years, and not just out of irony or spite. I do respect the warm hug of a fleece. But I would never wear my Snuggie out in public.

That's how I saw Patagonia: boxy, faded, unfashionable and, above all, outdated.

Then two things changed.

Tina Fuller wears the Pine Mountain Wrap in black and gray, available in the Patagonia store on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
Tina Fuller wears the Pine Mountain Wrap in black and gray, available in the Patagonia store on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. (Paul Aiken/Daily Camera)

First, Patagonia came out with a retro line. And, second, I learned something game-changing about the company that challenged my perceptions.

The new line is called the Legacy Collection, in celebration of Patagonia's 40th anniversary this year. It features a handful of clothes inspired by original designs from the '70s and early '80s. Some, like the Summit Pack and Alpiniste Sweater, are dead-ringer reincarnations, just with updated fabrics. Many new fabrics are completely recycled, or organic with environmentally and socially ethical origins.

These retro styles appeal to the vintage-loving-half-hipster in me. They almost take the criticism that Patagonia is outdated and own it. Like, "Yeah, this boxy blue down jacket belongs in a Journey-playing van -- what."

But there's more to it than irony. There's a reason I love vintage dresses more than trendy ones from Forever 21: They are built to last. Which is why they have this long.

The same goes for this outdoor apparel line.

Stephen Billings, Patagonia's Front Range area manager, showed me a Diamond Quilt Snap-T Pullover from the '80s, next to the remade version. You could barely tell a difference between the two designs.

Let’s not forget about the guys.The Patagonia store on the Pearl Street Mall offers the Mesclun Retro-X Jacket, Stand Up Pants and Fjord Flannel
Let's not forget about the guys.The Patagonia store on the Pearl Street Mall offers the Mesclun Retro-X Jacket, Stand Up Pants and Fjord Flannel Shirt being worn by Zach Barker, right. He is flanked by Tina Fuller in the Alpinist Sweater. (Paul Aiken/Daily Camera)

Crazy. Other than the color -- hideous teal versus a much more pleasing navy or gray -- the 30-year-old pullover looked to be in nearly the same condition as the never-worn one.

Which brought up revolution No. 2.

Turns out Patagonia was founded by a climber who designed the clothing as durable gear, not just adornment. Just like good gear, it needed to be functional, high quality and reliable -- and hold up over time.

Billings says he does not want you to buy Patagonia's jackets -- not unless you need one. Don't just buy something to buy something, he says.

Instead of trying to meet sales quotas, he says he tells his sales associates to think about solutions. He urges shoppers to buy products that solve problems, not create new ones. Like unnecessary environmental waste.

Not exactly the message you hear from most stores this time of year. Buybuybuybuybuybuybuy.

In fact, instead of Black Friday sales, Patagonia invited clients to bring in their old clothes for free repairs. Some Patagonia branches bought back old clothes to resell or recycle.

It's about changing the way people consume and what businesses prioritize, Billings says.

"We want to celebrate stuff that lasts," Billings says.

One shopper stopped by the store with one of the first Patagonia catalogues and a 30-plus-year-old jacket that he still wears.

Which is when it hit me.

Perhaps all those times when I thought Patagonia was outdated, the clothes really were just that old, still being worn like new.

And, now, with the clothing buybacks, perhaps a few Boulderites can trade in their fugly, faded teal pullovers for an updated, yet still totally retro-inspired, member of the Legacy Collection.

On that note, does Patagonia consign Snuggies? Because I spotted a gorgeous black and gray lambswool wrap that I wouldn't mind sleeping in. And even wearing in public.