Remembering Delia: Repair Champion, Storyteller, Friend

I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled up to Patagonia’s Reno warehouse. Only a few emails and a phone call had precipitated our visit—and I was curious to see the place that Patagonia, a sustainable outdoor clothing company, calls home.

When we got into the lobby, a warm message on a chalkboard welcomed iFixit as visitors. But it was nothing compared to the warm welcome given to us by our hostess. A beaming smile. A giant hug. Already we were like close friends.

That was the first time I met Delia. She was such a warm person. And as our friendship deepened, so did my appreciation for her. She was so good at the little things—little gestures of kindness. Once, she had a jacket specially repaired for me, with a colorful purple patch—a jacket to keep me warm on the backpacking trips we’d often talk about.

Now, Delia’s warmth is only a memory. It was with tremendously sad hearts that we learned Delia Togoan recently passed away of Leukemia. We lost her beaming smile. We lost a true fixer. But mostly, we lost a friend.

Delia was the head of the repairs department at Patagonia. Over the past 18 months, we had been collaborating on creating repair guides for clothing. To date, that partnership has resulted in over 80 clothing repair guides designed to help people patch the holes and stitch the tears in their well-loved gear. And while 80 repairs sounds like a lot of different ways to rip your jacket, those were only a small fraction of the repairs Delia oversaw in her time at Patagonia.

Delia the repair champion, with her team at the Patagonia warehouse
Delia (standing at the back right, in white) with her repair family at Patagonia.

Delia, along with her team—which she lovingly dubbed her “adopted aunts”—repaired thousands of garments every single year. Delia believed in repair. She saw the value in each piece of clothing that she touched, because it was a part of someone’s life. Delia didn’t just see a jacket. She saw a story. An adventure. A person.

For Delia, repairing a jacket was a way to touch someone’s life—even if in a small way. I imagine that a small piece of the warmth she exuded went into each jacket she repaired. And that it lingers there, still keeping people warm—inviting laughter, adventure, and a story.

I am sad that she is no longer here, with her smile and her hug. I am sad that the world has lost such an amazing champion of repair. I am sad that I can no longer talk to a good friend. But I hope her vision and spirit lives on, in me, in my jacket, and in her work to repair the world.