While Lululemon is popular as a brand because of its position as a status symbol, Lululemon thrives because it encourages consumers to purchase in excess by constantly releasing new colors and patterns of their clothing, pushing consumers to continue to ‘collect’ items in each variation. The Hotty Hot Short is no exception, made in four different lengths and rises, as well as 19 different colors and patterns. Despite boasting ambitious labor standards and sustainability goals, Lululemon lacks transparency in where they source materials and manufacture their goods, as well as a lack of action towards their goals, making their promises for future sustainability efforts seem disingenuous.
The Lululemon Hotty Hot Short is made mostly of recycled polyester, while the rest of the short is made from Elastane, Lycra, and Nylon, which are all synthetic materials. Nylon is produced using crude oil and Elastane and Lycra are produced using polyurethane which is a lab-created rubber. Lululemon’s Product Sustainability webpage details materials they use, stating that their recycled polyester is made from used plastics and setting goals to transition to all renewable or recycled fabrics by 2030. While I personally am not 100% satisfied with the materials Lululemon uses in making the Hotty Hot Short, it was easy as a consumer to find information on their website about their materials and sustainability goals, and so I appreciate their transparency. While their action plan makes it seem as though they are making a conscious effort towards using more sustainable materials, Lululemon is still currently falling short, and I would like to see a greater sense of urgency from Lululemon towards achieving their sustainability goals.
Lululemon does not own independent manufacturing vendors and outsources production to select factories. Lululemon is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and uses its shared tools to measure its environmental impact, the Higg Index 2.0 in particular for evaluating their suppliers. The Higg Index assesses the social and environmental performance of the value chain and the environmental impacts of products. However, Lululemon is not transparent about who their suppliers and manufacturers are and where exactly their products are sourced and manufactured. Lululemon’s website states that they source their products and fabrics from 26 countries but fails to make the information of the exact countries and manufacturing facilities easily accessible to consumers.
Lululemon has their own Vendor Code of Ethics to ensure their manufacturing partners remain fair and ethical in production, as well as performing unannounced assessments of their partner facilities. Their Vendor Code of Ethics states their zero tolerance for forced and prison labor, requirement of local minimum wage, and proper safety measures. Their Vendor Code of Ethics is based upon industry standards as well as the International Labour Organization’s conventions, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Global Impact and Guiding Principles, the Fair Labor Association’s Labor Standards, and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.