DATA

ABOUT THE BRAND

Lululemon is a Canadian athletic apparel retailer, available worldwide, selling yoga-inspired, technical athletic wear for yoga, running, training and most other sweaty pursuits. The brand was at the forefront of the movement creating stylish, upmarket workout clothes that people love to wear outside the gym, too. As part of its community focus the brand partners with providers to run classes and events at cities around the world.

HIGHLIGHTS

THE PROS:

💪🏼 For the year ending May 2016, the brand undertook audits at 67% of total finished goods facilities (32 of 48 facilities), and 40% of its total raw material facilities (57 facilities). 15% of these audits were undertaken by third party assessors.

♻️ Lululemon is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and requires its top suppliers to use the HIGG INDEX 2.0 facilities module, to record key environmental data on energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, wastewater/effluent, air emissions, waste, and chemicals management.

♻️ Nearly one third of the mills that supply Lululemon raw materials are bluesign certified, which means that harmful chemicals have been restricted from entering the manufacturing process of a textile.

THE CONS:

🔍 It is unclear if the brand can trace its entire supply chain.

💪🏼 Lululemon states that suppliers must pay their employees at least the local minimum wage, and if that doesn’t exist, it must pay an industry-average wage. The brand states that because it doesn’t own any of the facilities that manufacture its products, it can’t set wages.

🔍 Reliable Source Industrial (Cambodia) Co, Ltd. is listed by Lululemon as a first tier supplier in its Know The Chain disclosure. Better Factories Cambodia has identified a critical issue with this supplier as it discriminates against workers.

🏢 Lululemon had to recall items in 2013 and 2015 due to quality and safety issues.

/ As of January, 2017, Lululemon Athletica operates 55 Ivivva stores and 351 Lululemon stores, located in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

/ In 2016, Lululemon had 65 fabric suppliers, with a single manufacturer producing 40% of its raw materials. The brand had approximately 35 manufacturing suppliers, five of which produce approximately 63% of the brand’s products.

/ Lululemon states it does not have long-term contracts with the majority of its suppliers.

/ In fiscal year 2016, Lululemon’s net revenue was US $2.3 billion.

/ Lululemon states that if the product doesn’t work for you, it will take it back. However, the returns policy narrows this promise, requiring that items for return are unwashed and unworn with the hangtag attached and accompanied by proof of payment. The purchaser must also create the online return authorization within 30 days of receiving the order, or 30 days from the in-store purchase date.

/ In its 2016 Know The Chain disclosure, the brand shared the names and locations of its first tier suppliers along with the 12 countries where 57 of its second tier material suppliers are located. The brand states the highest proportion of its fabric suppliers are based in Taiwan.

/ Reliable Source Industrial (Cambodia) Co, Ltd. is listed by Lululemon as a first tier supplier in its Know The Chain disclosure. Better Factories Cambodia has identified a critical issue with this supplier as it discriminates against workers.

/ The down in Lululemon products is supplied by DOWNLITE, a company that does not use live-plucked or force-fed geese and all of the down it supplies is a by-product of the food industry that would have otherwise been disposed.

/ The brand states MAS Active, at the Linea Intimo factory in Biyagama, Sri Lanka as one of its manufacturing suppliers. It shares stories from a recent visit and a video about the factory on its website.

/ In the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, the brand was awarded a B+ overall. The report states the brand has traced all its tier 1 and 2 suppliers and partially traced its tier 3 Raw Material suppliers.

/ According to the 2017 Fashion Transparency Index, Lululemon scored 25%.

/ The brand has not signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh because it states that it has already put the Accord’s principles into practice through its own Code of Ethics. We don’t have any further information on this.

/ Lululemon states that suppliers must pay their employees at least the local minimum wage. The brand states that because it doesn’t own any of the facilities that manufacture its products, it can’t set wages. It is unclear what the brand perceives to be the employee’s needs and how the supplier assesses these.

/ The brand has shared its Foreign Migrant Worker standard (“FMW standard”) through its Know The Chain disclosure. The Lululemon FMW standard forbids any forced, bonded, indentured, involuntary prison labour, slavery or trafficking of persons. In December 2015, the FMW standard was updated to apply to all facilities with foreign migrant workers, including those outside of Taiwan.

/ Lululemon partners with Better Factories Cambodia and Better Factories Vietnam, both part of the ILO Better Work program, who perform unannounced assessments and provide advisory services and deliver hands on training. The brand also partners with global brands, unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to stay abreast of labour and human rights issues in the region.

/ Lululemon’s policy is to assess all garment factory and raw material suppliers  performance on-site at least every 18 months depending on risk and  vendor performance.

/ The brand also conducts scoped assessments of high risk subcontractors (as defined by countries that have foreign migrant workers, and high exposure processes), and expect its suppliers to conduct assessments of all subcontractors and supply the brand with findings prior to its independent assessment.

/ For the year ending May 2016, the brand undertook audits at 67% of total finished goods facilities (32 of 48 facilities), and 40% of its total raw material facilities (57 facilities). 15% of these audits were undertaken by third party assessors.

/ The Code of Ethics requires all suppliers to protect indoor and outdoor environmental health by adhering to all applicable regulatory requirements, including  chemical and waste management. Suppliers are also required to reduce waste, reuse and recycle whenever possible, however it is unclear what is meant by ‘whenever possible’  and whether the regulatory requirements are limited to domestic regulations.

Lululemon states that through its partnership with Canopy it has committed to not sourcing fabrics from ancient or endangered forests by 2017.

/ Lululemon materials include Pima cotton, Tencel, Boolux – a blend of rayon derived from bamboo, Tencel & cashmere, Vitasea – made with Seacell® yarn derived from seaweed blended with cotton & spandex and Luon – a nylon/elastane blend.

Lululemon sources a mix of wool fibres from New Zealand, Australia, China and South Africa. It requires all suppliers to comply with a range of standards and regulations including domestic animal welfare standards and states it will only use non-mulesed wool. Lululemon requires vendors to disclose country of origin and suppliers details of its wool fibre and asks suppliers to provide a chain of custody certification that confirms mulesing is avoided.

/ Lululemon is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and requires its top suppliers to use the HIGG INDEX 2.0 facilities module, to record key environmental data on energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, wastewater/effluent, air emissions, waste, and chemicals management.

/ Nearly one third of the mills that supply Lululemon raw materials are Bluesign certified, which means that harmful chemicals have been restricted from entering the manufacturing process of a textile.

/ The brand states that packaging represents 40% of its global corporate waste footprint and it is working to make improvements. The brand is a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant through which it has committed to use more sustainable packaging.

/ By Spring 2017, the brand state that 100% of its down product will be certified to the Responsible Down Standard.

/ The brand states that sourcing more sustainable raw materials is one of the most significant ways that it can make a positive impact globally. Lululemon has partnered with Canopy to develop a plan to protect forests, committing to not sourcing any products from ancient and endangered forests by 2017.

/ The brand has been tracking and managing corporate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for 5 years to mitigate operational risks. In 2015, the sustainability department purchased an energy and carbon software platform to better collect and report accurate data.

/ The brand states it is committed to establishing an independent grievance mechanism for suppliers’ workers by 2017.

/ Lululemon reports that it intends to report 2016 audit results through its Know the Chain disclosure in 2017.

/ Through the Metta Movement the brand provides grants to some of its manufacturing partners to initiate or elevate social and environmental programs. The brand has stated in its Know The Chain disclosure that it has contributed in Sri Lanka, through funds and product given to partners for projects that include: a higher education scholarship program for disadvantaged children; funds to help build and cover operating costs of a preschool for factory employees’ children that also houses an adult counselling centre; a community support network focusing on family life that helps factory employees overcome day to day issues; financial management and health programs for workers. In Cambodia, funds to a vendor partner for a girls education program in partnership with Room to Read.

/ Each year, the brand provides grants to local organizations through its global network of stores, and invests in national and international programs that create access to yoga and meditation. For example, in 2016, the brand gave a USD$50,000 grant to the Africa Yoga Project and 500 yoga mats.

/ Lululemon CEO, Laurent Potdevin, received USD $6.6million in total compensation in 2016.

/ In 2015 a class action lawsuit was filed in New York by current and former hourly employees. Rebecca Gathmann-Landini et al. v lululemon USA Inc. concerns allegations made against the company for breaches of the New York Labour Code for failing to pay all earned wages, including overtime compensation.

/ In 2015, the Guardian reported that when Lululemon debuted its Curiosity Lager on Instagram it was met with backlash from fans over ‘offensive cultural appropriation’.

/ In March 2013, the brand had to recall its yoga pant for being too sheer.

/ In response to complaints about the pilling of Lululemon yoga pants, The Huffington Post reported that Lululemon founder and former CEO Chip Wilson said: “Frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it. it don’t work for some women’s bodies…it’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much it use it.”

/ In December 2013, Business Insider reported that Wilson had said he favors using child labor in Third World countries because it provides them with much-needed wages.

In 2007, Lululemon claimed that its pants were made of seaweed that had health benefits for women who wore them. The company later retracted those claims.

/ Chip Wilson stepped down as CEO of Lululemon in December 2013. He later resigned from the Lululemon board in 2015 after voting against the reelection of two board members and speaking out publicly about what he perceived as the board’s short term vision.

/ Lululemon states that it is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, in order to  address environmental impacts through collaborative solutions. It requires suppliers to use the Higg Index 2.0 facilities module which considers key environmental impact areas such as energy use.

/ Lululemon hosts an annual Vendor Summit in Vancouver. Suppliers are brought together to share best practices and challenges and this builds on the brand’s relationships with these vendors.

 

VOICES

GuardianJESSICA WAKEMAN | THE GUARDIAN

The average US woman’s dress size is 14, according to the president of the lingerie line Frederick’s of Hollywood (among other studies). That is not, however, a size Lululemon even offers. – 11/9/2013

 


JezebelANONYMOUS | JEZEBEL

Immediately after I started work at Lululemon, I realized that almost all their talk about empowerment and happiness was empty. The years I’ve spent there since have confirmed it: the company’s culture is delusional, hypocritical, and cult-like. – 7/15/2015

We haven’t heard anything from the brand, yet. Check back soon!