Athleta is an activewear brand creating practical, on-trend athleisure for women. While the brand may be popular and achieved B Corp status in 2018, we’re asking the question, is Athleta ethical?
Athleta was founded in 1998 and was bought by parent company GAP inc in 2008. Athleta remains part of the GAP portfolio of brands, including GAP and Acquired by Gap, Inc. The brand is owned by parent company GAP Inc, which also owns popular brands Old Navy and Banana Republic. Athleta retails its pieces online and in-store and has over 200 stores across North America
Ecothes Opinion: Is Athleta Ethical?
Things we liked:
✔ Use of sustainable and recycled materials
✔ The brand works to empower women by giving back to the community
✔ Certified B Corp status
✔ It uses some Fair Trade-certified factories
Things we didn’t like:
❌ No in-depth information about where its clothes are made
❌ No indication of the audit results of its partner suppliers
❌ No indication of whether all of its factories are Fair Trade certified
Is Athleta Fast Fashion?
While we wouldn’t consider Athleta to be in the ultra-fast fashion category like brands such as Shein, for example, we would still consider the brand to be a fast fashion brand as global retailer GAP inc owns it. The brand also produces hundreds of styles of clothing, and despite it using some sustainable materials, it still operates to mass-produce products on a large scale so that we wouldn’t class it as a slow fashion brand.
Who Owns Athleta?
Athleta is owned by GAP inc, an American retailer that owns a portfolio of fashion brands, including GAP, Old Navy, and Banana Republic.
What Materials Does Altheta Use?
Regarding materials, Athleta is leading the way for large activewear brands by using a percentage of sustainable materials in some of its products (around 60% of products).
Athleta uses materials such as organic cotton, which uses less water than conventional cotton and is grown without toxic pesticides.
In addition, the brand uses innovative sustainable materials such as Tencel and recycled fabrics from recycled plastic bottles and recycled nylon.
However, the problem we’ve found is that while the brand has a ‘Conscious collection,’ a large proportion of the brand’s clothing is still made from unsustainable virgin materials. The brand aims to continue to increase its use of more sustainable materials and has a target to source 45% of its polyester from recycled streams by 2025 and use 90% recycled polyester by 2030.
Is Athleta Carbon Neutral?
No, Athleta as a whole is not carbon neutral. GAP published that as of 2021, GAP inc offset 100% of the emissions of Athleta’s company shops in North America by using renewable energy. However, the brand is not carbon-neutral across its supply chains.
Is Athleta Ethical?
While Altheta is owned by GAP, which, unfortunately, has a poor history when it comes to ethical labor, however, Athleta was awarded B Corporation status in 2018, a verification which shows that a brand demonstrates a commitment to a high social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Athleta states that it works with some Fair Trade-certified factories but doesn’t detail whether all its suppliers are certified.
GAPInc has a Code of Business Conduct that it and its suppliers must follow.
However, GAP Inc (Athleta’s parent company) only scored 44% out of 100% in the 2022 Fashion Transparency Index, showing that there is still a long way to go for the brand to be truly transparent.
Athleta also doesn’t pay 100% of its employees a living wage, as the brand reports that less than 75% of Full Time Employees are currently paid a living wage.
Where are Athleta Clothes Made?
Athleta doesn’t give a list of its direct suppliers, but parent company GAP inc provides a transparent list of all Tier 1 suppliers. GAP inc mainly works with suppliers based in China, Vietnam, and India; check out the whole list here.
Is Athleta Cruelty-Free?
The brand doesn’t have an easily accessible stand-alone animal welfare policy (or if they do, we couldn’t find it). Additionally, the brand isn’t vegan as they use wool in some products, and it isn’t specified if the wool used is from certified sources (such as RWS or ZQ).
Does Athleta Have A Clothing Recycling Program?
Although not automatically easy to find on the brand’s website, Athleta has partnered with ThredUp to allow its customers to send back worn or unwanted Athleta pieces to be recycled or reused. So far, with their partnership, 525K Athleta items have been diverted away from landfill and into the recycling program.
Sustainable Alternatives to Athleta
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1. Girlfriend Collective
Sustainability: All of its Activewear is created from recycled materials
Best for: Size-inclusive brand creating workout leggings, sets, and loungewear
Ships to: Worldwide
Sustainability: Climate-neutral brand creating activewear from recycled plastics
Best for: Patterned workout sets, loungewear
Ships to: Worldwide
Sustainability: Brand using ethical production and sustainable materials
Best for: Size-inclusive Activewear
Ships to: Worldwide
Wrapping Up: Is Athleta Ethical?
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our opinion into the brand. We also have lots more brand ratings to discover, like Nasty Gal, Express, Aritzia, Emmiol, and more!