REI Co-op honors Arbor Collective as top vendor partner of 2018, and delivers Root Award to Costa’s Untangled Collection for its innovative sunglass frames made from recycled fishing nets found in the ocean

Electra, Hydro Flask, Outdoor Research and Smartwool also recognized as leaders in action sports, camping, apparel, footwear and basics categories

Jan 31, 2019

Each day, leading outdoor retailer REI Co-op offers top gear and apparel from thousands of established and up-and-coming outdoor brands. During the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show this week, the REI Co-op recognized vendor partners who have made a significant impact to the co-op’s mission to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors in everyone with its Vendor Partner of the Year awards. The co-op also recognized Costa Sunglasses with REI’s Root award, which celebrates industry-leading sustainable product design.

REI Vendor Partner of the Year Awards
Snowboard and skateboard manufacturer, Arbor Collective, headquartered in Venice, California, received the co-op’s overall Vendor Partner of the Year award.

“For 25 years Arbor has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the co-op,” said Susan Viscon, REI senior vice president, merchandising. “They are incredibly passionate about our partnership beyond ‘the transaction’ – from innovating process with us, to highest-level support for employee training, to like-minded sustainability practices. We appreciate Arbor’s authenticity and ongoing investment in our partnership.”
The following vendors collected 2018 divisional honors for the year:

  • Action sports: Electra (Encinitas, California)
  • Camp: Hydro Flask (Bend, Oregon)
  • Apparel: Smartwool (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
  • Footwear and basics: Outdoor Research (Seattle)

The Vendor Partner of the Year awards program was established by REI in 1993. Each year, companies are nominated by the co-op’s four merchandising divisions – action sports, camp, apparel, and footwear and basics – for partnering with REI to meet customer needs, raise the bar for product quality and drive sustainable business practices.

REI Root Award
The co-op’s Root Award was created in 2016 to celebrate the gritty, below-the-surface determination that drives sustainability innovation in the outdoor industry and honors innovation that moves the industry toward more sustainable ways of making gear.

This year, REI recognized Costa Sunglasses for developing its “Untangled Collection” of sunglasses that uses frames made of plastic from recycled fishing nets. Products in this collection use other lower-impact materials such as recycled nose and temple pads and recycled aluminum logo detail. Costa continues to educate customers about the importance of protecting the oceans, while also providing an option for recycling the sunglasses when they reach the end of their lifecycle.

“One of Costa’s core commitments is helping protect our oceans, rivers and lakes,” says Matthew Thurston, REI Director of Sustainability. “The Untangled Collection stands out as a major advancement in sustainable design because it takes a major issue for ocean health – discarded fishing nets – and turns them into high quality gear. Costa has been a key partner for us as we’ve rolled out our Product Sustainability Standards in 2017 and we’re happy to recognize them with this year’s Root Award.”

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 179 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.