Lululemon Athletica says its clothing is comprised of 24% seaweed fiber. Tests show, that isn’t correct. Not by a long shot. The company, which went public in July, has been performing well thanks to the popularity of its costly yoga and
other workout clothes, which are made with unusual materials, including
bamboo, silver, charcoal, coconut and soybeans.
One of Lululemon’s lines, VitaSea, the company says it is made
with seaweed. The fabric, according to product tags, “releases marine
amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with
moisture.” It is supposed to reduce stress and
provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hydrating and detoxifying
There is one problem with Lululemon’s VitaSea claims, however. Some of them may not be true.
New York Times conducted a laboratory test of a Lululemon shirt made
of VitaSea (labeled as being made of 70% cotton, 6% spandex and 24% of the seaweed fiber), and reviewed a similar test performed at another lab. Guess what? Both concluded there was no significant difference
in mineral levels between the VitaSea fabric and regular cotton T-shirts.
In other words, the labs found no evidence of seaweed in the Lululemon clothing.
This wouldn’t be so disturbing if the price were the same for a regular cotton tee. When told about the findings, Lululemon’s founder said he could not dispute them. “If
you actually put it on and wear it, it is different from cotton,” said
Dennis Wilson, Lululemon’s founder, chief product designer and board
chairman. “That’s my only test of it.”
The tests raise obvious questions about
Lululemon’s marketing and ethics. Especially since consumers generally pay more for high-tech
sportswear, and companies like Lululemon are trying to capitalize on
interest in organic materials.
“Consumers expect and trust
companies to be honest with them,” said Sally Greenberg, executive
director of the National Consumers League, a nonprofit organization and
advocate for consumers. Well maybe not in Canada (the company is based in Vancouver, British
SeaCell is owned by a German company
called Smartfiber. Smartfiber provides scientific documents on its Web
site about the effects of the SeaCell fibers, but it also says on its
site that SeaCell assumes no liability for that information’s accuracy.
Mr. Wilson’s excuse? "The
company probably did not have enough money to test the material back
when it started using it 18 months ago." However, isn’t it the responsibility of the companies to test all of their products? At the end of the day, it’s Lululemon’s name on reputation on the line. That’s just bad business…
Read NYT’s: ‘Seaweed’ Clothing Has None, Tests ShowSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40