Is Athleta Ethical?

It’s no secret that fast fashion is one of the world’s biggest polluters, nor is it a secret that a lot of brands are highly unethical when it comes to sourcing materials, working conditions, and underpaying employees.

For those who are conscious about where their money goes, it’s understandable why you would want to do your research about the ethics of certain brands and companies. 

Athleta is a popular sportswear brand for women owned by the parent company, Gap.

When it comes to discussing the ethics of certain brands, the answer is never just a simple “yes” or “no”. Athleta is an example of this, because while it is a certified B Corporation brand, it doesn’t mean that Athleta is ethical across the board.

Therefore, it’s quite hard to answer the question on everyone’s mind –  “is Athleta ethical?”. 

If you’re conscious about the environment and you don’t want to financially contribute to unethical brands, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about Athleta and its ethics! 

What Does Ethical Mean? 

The simplest way to explain what ethical means is when something is morally good and right. Ethics are a part of everything in life – from companies to food to what media you choose to consume.

People who are concerned about particular ethics, such as poor working conditions or bad pay, tend to boycott whatever they feel doesn’t align with their ethics. 

While it might seem impossible to find a perfectly 100% ethical company, these companies and brands do exist.

A lot of brands are also partially ethical, so whether you choose to buy their products is up to you.

It’s important that we commit to spending money on ethical brands (or at least brands that are making efforts to be more ethical) to prevent financially contributing to immoral practices, such as human rights abuse. 

Is Athleta Ethical?

Overall, Athleta can be considered an ethical brand. The reasons for this are complicated, because for a brand to be 100% ethical, they would have to start from scratch all over again. 

Athleta is a certified B Corporation. For a brand to be certified B Corporation, it must meet the highest standards of transparency, environmental and social performance, and accountability. It doesn’t mean that a B Corporation brand must be 100% ethical –  it simply means that the brand has evidential proof that they are making the efforts to be more ethical. 

These ethical standards count for the materials used, the working conditions and wages of employees, the transparency and accountability of the brand, the sustainability of the brand, and more. 

Ethics can also count for diversity and inclusion within the brand. This means that for a brand to be ethically diverse, they must cater towards people of all sizes, all genders, all ages, all ethnicities, all disabilities, and all religions.

Athleta is predominantly a female-based sportswear brand that doesn’t currently design sportswear for some disabled people, however, Athleta have made good progress with catering for all ethnicities.

Most notably, Athleta has a limited edition called “Brown Girls Do Ballet”, which celebrates ballet dancers of all skin tones. Ballet fashion is notoriously suitable for only Caucasian people, which Athleta strives to fight. 

Athleta’s Goals 

Prior to 2020, 60% of Athleta’s materials were made from sustainably sourced fibers.

This means that the materials used to make the clothing was sourced from farms that won’t make a negative impact on the environment. As of 2020, however, Athleta pledged to make 80% of their products from sustainably sourced fibers. 

While this figure can eventually strive to be higher, it’s not always possible for a brand to immediately jump to 100% sustainably sourced materials. In fact, it’s far more complicated than it might seem.

The reason it takes several years for a brand to strive towards using sustainably sourced materials is because they would have to sell their existing products and break deals with their current manufacturers and suppliers. 

It does seem ironic that even though Athleta is transparent about how only 80% of their products are made from sustainable materials, they also claim that their products are 100% Fair-Trade certified and sustainable.

It is safe to assume that this is only half true, because if they are certified by Fair-Trade, then this is proof that they provide their employees with adequate working conditions and wages. 

Another one of Athleta’s goals is to commit to producing 25% of their products with water-saving techniques.

A little known fact about the fast fashion industry is that water is one of the most important components of their products, even though ethical brands have proven that excessive water isn’t necessary.

For Athleta to slowly start committing to water-saving techniques to make their clothing is a step in the right direction. 

How Ethical is Gap?

It’s not just about whether a brand is ethical – you’ve got to look at the ethics of the parent company itself.

Gap owns Athleta, so if Gap was not an ethical brand, then Athleta wouldn’t be considered one, either. 

Overall, Gap is sort of ethical. Gap is clearly striving towards promising environmental measures, such as using eco-friendly materials and less water in their production process.

Gap also promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% in 2020, plus the brand is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

However, Gap seems to lack in its labor standards and animal welfare standards, which puts them in the middle between ethical and unethical.

Consumers might take this information into consideration when it comes to researching the ethics of Athleta. 

So…is Athleta Ethical?

The answer to this question is somewhat ambiguous, but all in all, we can say that Athleta is an ethical brand.

Athleta is transparent about its goals and shortcomings, such as how they continue to strive towards using sustainable materials and water-saving techniques.

As a certified Fair-Trade and B Corporation brand, Athleta’s staff are giving adequate working conditions and fair wages. While Athleta still has a long way to go before the brand is 100% ethical, it is certainly making the right steps to reach this goal.