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Lululemon Athletica's 'Seaweed' Clothing Contains No Seaweed

Lululemon Athletica's 'Seaweed' Clothing Contains No Seaweed

According to independent laboratory tests, Lululemon athletica's VitaSea line does not contain seawood, as stated on the label.

November 15, 2007 —

Lululemon athletica, a yoga-inspired clothing line, has often been touted as an ethical business.  On November 14, however, the New York Times reported that, VitaSea, which the company claimed contained seaweed, in fact, did not.  Considering that consumers pay more for organic clothing, the report raises questions about Lululemon.

A Canadian-based company that has become a favorite on Wall Street since going public in the summer of 2007, Lululemon athletica has received favorable reviews from investors, consumers, and environmentalists alike.  The company produces reusable shopping bags, has a manifesto, and sells a variety of lines intended to reduce stress, provide antibacterial benefits and allow “people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives.”

The company does not use union labor, but it does pay its workers above-average wages and offers numerous benefits, including yoga classes and health benefits.  The company has about 40 stores and showrooms in the United States and calls its in-store employees ‘educators’ while customers are ‘guests.’

The New York Times sent a VitaSea shirt to an independent laboratory, which found no significant difference in mineral levels between Lululemon’s shirt and a cotton t-shirt.  Seaweed contains vitamins and minerals and the VitaSea shirt was supposed to be 24 percent seaweed fiber (along with 70 percent cotton and 6 percent spandex), which means there should have been a noticeable difference.  When asked by the Times, Lululemon admitted it did not test its clothes for seaweed, but took the manufacturer’s word.  According to consumer advocates, however, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that its marketing is accurate.  Susan Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League said, “Consumers expect and trust companies to be honest with them.”

Lululemon has stated that in the future, it will conduct its own tests to make sure its clothing contains the materials on the label.

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