Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: Pangaia's FRUT FIBER collection | PANGAIA
lululemon’s latest partnership aims to replace conventional nylon in its products with bio-based; while two new blends from Pangaia are the brand’s latest step to delivering sustainable alternatives to overproduced materials such as cotton.
Image credit: lululemon/Facebook
This week, lululemon athletica inc. announced a multi-year collaboration
with Genomatica — the San Diego-based bioengineering firm that develops
bio-based and renewable alternatives to a host of widely used materials and
chemicals — to bring more renewably sourced, bio-based materials into
lululemon’s products. This represents lululemon’s first-ever equity investment
in a sustainable materials company and Genomatica’s largest partnership within
the retail industry. Together, the two companies will create a lower-impact,
plant-based nylon to replace conventional nylon — which is the largest volume of
synthetic material currently used to make lululemon products.
Nylon is the first completely synthetic fiber to be made into consumer
products; the strong and versatile material has become nearly ubiquitous in its
applications, especially in textiles — where it can found in everything from
apparel to rope and carpet. Unfortunately, traditional production methods of the
fiber, which is made from crude oil, emit an estimated 60 million tons of
greenhouse gas emissions per year.
— which has made a name for itself bringing more renewable chemicals to market
through collaborations with giants such as
— has worked for the past several years on developing renewable nylon
and last year, the company partnered with Aquafil, to develop a commercially
advantageous process for producing plant-based
— a key ingredient used in producing Aquafil’s signature ECONYL
Genomatica uses biotechnology and fermentation to convert plant-based
ingredients into widely used chemical building blocks, like those used to make
nylon, into pellets and yarns. Through this new partnership, it will work
closely with lululemon’s fabric supply chain to incorporate bio-based nylon into
future products. The companies say they seek to revolutionize the $22 billion global
nylon market by building more sustainable supply chains.
“Our partnership with and investment in Genomatica demonstrates our commitment
to be a leader in creating products that help build a healthier future for
ourselves, for our communities and for our planet,” says lululemon CEO Calvin
McDonald. “Genomatica's bio-based innovations, along with their distinctive
track record of successful commercial applications, will help us deliver on our
Impact Agenda goals to make 100% of our products with sustainable materials and
end-of-use solutions by 2030, as we move toward a circular ecosystem.”
“We are proud to partner with lululemon, a company that is taking meaningful
action to help address our climate crisis,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO
of Genomatica. “The combination of biotechnology, fermentation and renewable
feedstocks can provide a powerful means to disrupt the apparel industry through
sustainable sourcing. This unique collaboration will help meet increasing
consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products and set an example
for consumer brand owners worldwide.”
The collaboration with
Genomatica — along with partnerships with companies such as
Mylo, to use a mycelium-based
for polyester made using recycled carbon emissions — is one of the many ways
lululemon is exploring sustainable materials innovation.
Patty Stapp, lululemon’s VP of Raw Materials, said: “Replacing the
petrochemicals that make up many popular materials with more sustainable
alternatives is a major step forward in reaching our Impact
Agenda goals. By
transitioning our nylon to renewable content, we will impact over half of the
synthetic materials we use in our supply chain. We have seen Genomatica
repeatedly and successfully deliver industry-changing bio-based materials at
commercial scale and are confident this partnership can truly change the way we
Items made from Pangaia's PLNT FIBER | Images credit: Pangaia
Meanwhile, materials science company Pangaia has introduced two new,
proprietary fabric blends made entirely from plant fibers. The PLNT FIBER™
and FRUT FIBER™ blends — derived from plant and agricultural waste — have
the look and feel of cotton, without the cotton; they are the direct-to-consumer
brand’s latest step to delivering alternatives to overproduced materials and to
becoming “Earth positive” by
The fashion industry's reliance on conventionally sourced non-organic
and fossil fuel-based synthetics such as conventional nylon continues to be
problematic due to the nature of these raw materials: On average, about 10,000
liters of water are required to grow just 1kg of conventional cotton; and
synthetics are usually made from non-renewable, polluting petrochemicals. While
both these materials feature undeniable qualities important to the textile
industry, our global over-reliance on these materials and the lack of diversity
in textiles commonly used are increasing their negative impact.
Pangaia says the extra-soft PLNT FIBER and FRUT FIBER blends will be
available in a range of products — which, following the initial release, will be
made readily available for use by brand partners.
PLNT FIBER and FRUT FIBER are the latest in a growing arsenal of agricultural
that have the potential to future-proof the industry. PLNT FIBER is made
from renewable, fast-growing plant sources such as bamboo, Himalayan nettle,
eucalyptus and seaweed. Each sources was specifically chosen as they do not
require any pesticides, fertilizers, or irrigation (additional water) to grow;
and bamboo and nettle grow faster when harvested regularly. By using renewable
and fast-growing plants, the brand helps to reduce the fashion industry’s
reliance on cotton and synthetics by diversifying textile blends.
FRUT FIBER is a blend of sustainably sourced bamboo lyocell and fibers
from by-products of fruit production including pineapple leaf and banana
leaf fibers. As by-products of the food supply chain, these fibers would
generally be either thrown in landfill or burnt, causing methane or black carbon
In keeping with the brand’s move towards circularity, each PLNT FIBER and
FRUT FIBER product will contain digital
— developed in conjunction with connected products innovator EON — that will
bring to life each garment’s unique journey and offer customers access to
product-level impact reporting in a more interactive way, through a QR code.
First launched in May with the brand’s Horizon collection, the digital
passports aim to accelerate greater transparency, traceability and circularity
in the fashion industry, while inspiring responsible consumer choices.
Published Aug 19, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST