One year after becoming a certified B Corporation, Athleta continues as a leader in sustainable performance apparel, sharing in its April catalog that 60 percent of its materials are now made with sustainable fibers. The brand has worked aggressively to increase the sustainability in its line by sourcing materials including recycled polyester and nylon, TENCEL® Modal, TENCEL® Lyocell, and organic cotton; and using more efficient fabric dyeing and finishing techniques. Recycled polyester alone diverted the equivalent of more than 38 million plastic bottles from landfills since 2014. Sustainable materials have also carried into Athleta Girls, reaching 69 percent of the styles in the upcoming Summer collection.
The milestone includes a 2019 Spring/Summer swimwear assortment featuring 85 percent of styles made from sustainable materials including the launch of two new fabrics: H2Eco, which saved 72,264 kilograms of waste from hitting landfills, the equivalent of 2.4 humpback whales and AquaRib, which uses ECONYL®, a material 100 percent made from regenerated nylon fiber sourced from abandoned fishing nets and other discarded nylon.
Athleta set its first public sustainability goals in 2017, with four key targets centered on reducing its impact on the planet and supporting the women around the world who make its clothes. The brand announced its progress against these goals including:
- 60 percent of materials made with sustainable fibers (2020 Goal: 80 percent)
- 4 percent of products made using techniques that save water (2020 Goal: 25 percent)
- 70 percent of waste from shipping packaging has been diverted from landfills (2020 Goal: 80 percent)
- 3,212 women empowered through P.A.C.E., a career and life skills education program that helps participants in factories making products for Athleta, create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities, and at Fair Trade Certified factories. (2020 Goal: 10,000 women)
“We believe that with Athleta’s growth comes even greater responsibility to lead as a force for good and protect our planet for the next generation,” said Nancy Green, CEO and President of Athleta. “At our size, we know we can make a big impact– whether diverting waste by converting our beloved Trekkie hike collection to recycled nylon or reaching millions of women through the stories we tell in our catalog. We can show women they don’t have to compromise on performance or beauty to do right by our planet.”
In addition to sustainable innovation in its product, Athleta has established partnerships to help make impact at scale. Earlier this year, the company announced its participation in a first-of its-kind partnership beginning in 2020 that will, once at capacity, fully offset the energy consumption of all its 160+ stores and San Francisco headquarters. In addition to bringing new renewable power to the grid, this power purchase agreement with The Corporate Renewable Energy Aggregation Group created an original, cost-effective and replicable model that will open up the renewable power market to companies seeking to purchase smaller volume.
Last year, Athleta became a member of Fashion Positive PLUS initiative, to collaborate with industry leaders to identify, create, and certify inputs for circular fashion. As part of Gap Inc., the brand is also a partner of the Make Fashion Circular initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which recently launched a campaign with other retail brands and the City of New York. Between Earth Day and mid-June, participating Athleta stores in New York City will host drop off points where New Yorkers can bring clothing they no longer wear to ensure it will be diverted from landfills through recycling or repurposing.
“Building a sustainable business is a journey and we’re constantly working to improve. We’ve set some very aggressive goals and have made some incredible progress, but we don’t take success for granted. We still have a long way to go,” explained Green. “The ability to impact at scale is critical to protecting the planet. Scale also means collaboration. We are happy to sit down with others in the space that might otherwise be considered competitors and get real about what it takes to move our industry toward less impact in a meaningful way.”
To celebrate Earth Day, Athleta stores across the country are hosting beach and community clean-ups throughout the month of April. To find a local event, visit https://athletaearthday2019.splashthat.com/. Further information about Athleta’s commitment to sustainability, including the brand’s 2020 sustainability goals can be found at www.Athleta.Gap.com/.