Lululemon is debuting products made from plant-based nylon. The activewear company promises the garments will deliver all the lightweight, quick-drying performance of its regular apparel. It's making the new green gear in partnership with Geno, a leader in sustainable materials.
The move takes Lululemon closer to 2030 goals of making 100% of its products with sustainable materials.
The introduction highlights a bit of a conundrum for the brand. On one hand, Lululemon loyalists are highly concerned about the environment and support the company because of its purpose-driven commitments.
On the other hand, they love the way those super-soft garments stay comfortable, wash after wash. Those qualities come from the company's use of Lycra, nylon and polyester -- fibers that rely on crude oil.
The launch video addresses that disconnect directly, promising that the plant-based items are just as good as its conventional product. “You’ll never feel the difference,” it promises.
The new clothes are just the latest in the Vancouver-based company’s rush to reach its 2030 goals. Last year, it introduced Like New, a re-commerce program. And it promised to invest all the profits from that effort into more sustainability initiatives.
“We’ve been working on plant-based nylon with our partner Geno for almost two years,” says Esther Speck, Lululemon’s senior vice president, global sustainable business and impact, in a blog post. That included testing different ways to integrate the fabric. “The launch of our first plant-based nylon products is an example of Lululemon’s environmental commitments in action and what’s to come on our journey toward net zero.”
Lululemon began investing in Geno in 2021 with the understanding that the feel of its fabrics is key to its success.
The biotech-engineered fabric is made from fermented plant sugars, which the company believes can disrupt the conventional nylon market, valued at about $22 billion annually.