Lululemon unveils first shirts featuring plant-based nylon


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Lululemon Athletica Inc. has introduced what it calls its first renewably sourced, plant-based nylon products as the athletic-wear maker tries to woo consumers shopping for more sustainable apparel.

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The Vancouver-based company announced on April 18 the launch of the new material, which it said was achieved from “fermenting plant sugars into the chemical building blocks used to make nylon.”

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The products are part of its partnership with sustainable materials company Genomatica, Inc., in which Lululemon has had a stake since 2021.

The companies replaced petroleum in the fabric with plants, updating the decades-old method of nylon production, Lululemon said. More than 8.7 million tons of nylon, which is made from synthetic materials, are produced each year.

“We’ve been working on plant-based nylon with our partner Geno for almost two years,” Esther Speck, Lululemon senior vice-president, global sustainable business and impact, said in a press release.

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The brand described the shirts with the new material as “high-performance” and the same feel as the lightweight, quick-drying material in the fabrics Lululemon has been offering.

The launch of its first plant-based nylon products is part of the company’s “journey toward net zero,” Speck said. The company first released its environmental impact agenda in fall 2020, including a goal of making 100 per cent of its products with sustainable materials by 2030.

Christophe Schilling, chief executive and founder of Geno, said the partnership with Lululemon will disrupt the $22-billion nylon market and accelerate the sustainable materials transition.

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“This is only the beginning,” Schilling said.

Aside from Lululemon, the startup has partnered with other companies to produce the material in the past year, including textile company Aquafil and material manufacturer Covestro.

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