lululemon announced on August 18 that it is partnering with biotech corporation Genomatica. The two have planned a multi-year collaboration to replace lululemon’s current usage of polyester with renewable materials. This marks the athletic-wear company’s first equity investment into eco-friendly fabrics, as well as Genomatica’s most prominent customer to date.
In order to incorporate more sustainable and bio-based sources, together they aim to formulate a new, lower-impact, plant-based nylon alternative to the synthetic polyester that comprises most of lululemon’s products. Genomatica utilizes plant or waste feedstocks, opposed to traditional fossil fuels.
This move comes on top of luluemon’s October 2020 Impact Agenda, where it committed to adopt measures that lessen the company’s environmental impact. lululemon’s CEO, Calvin McDonald, noted that “Genomatica’s bio-based innovations, along with their distinctive track record of successful commercial applications, will help us deliver on our Impact Agenda goals to make 100% of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030, as we move toward a circular ecosystem.”
In addition, lululemon is also working with Bolt Threads’ Mylo, a bio-based leather alternative, and LanzaTech, a recycled polyester producer. Patty Stapp, vice president of raw materials at lululemon, stated, “Replacing the petrochemicals that make up many popular materials with more sustainable alternatives is a major step forward in reaching our Impact Agenda goals. By transitioning our nylon to renewable content, we will impact over half of the synthetic materials we use in our supply chain.”
The major thing to keep in mind throughout these developments is that the integration of the materials itself will be a major point of uncertainty. While other brands have incorporated aspects of sustainability, this will be a first in terms of completely restructuring the procedures to make it so. Should it be viable, it will most likely pave a way for other companies.
As a major competitor in the activewear sector of fashion, hopefully similar brands, such as adidas and Nike, will look to such examples as inspiration to completely rethink and retool their own respective supply chains.
In other material partnership news, Bolt Threads has teamed up with Ginkgo Bioworks to improve manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of b-silk.