Monday, May 20, 2024

Athleta Leans Into Recycled Polyester and Female Olympians: ‘a Mission for Us to Make a Difference’

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With a circular material and a female athlete-focused campaign, Athleta’s vision for a more ethical sportswear sector comes to life.

Gap athletic wear brand Athleta has announced its commitment to integrate Cycora, a high-performance, regenerated polyester, into its product line by 2026. This innovative material, created from excess or waste textiles known as “end-of-life” textiles, is developed by Ambercycle, a Los Angeles-based company specializing in molecular regeneration technology. Cycora, Ambercycle’s inaugural premium material solution derived from end-of-life textiles, is a sustainable alternative to conventional polyester, promoting circularity in the fashion industry by minimizing waste and emissions.

“As a mission-driven, B Corp.-certified brand, Athleta is committed to reducing our environmental footprint by using recycled materials like Cycora, which not only aligns with our values but also meets our uncompromising quality standards,” Chris Blakeslee, Athleta’s CEO, said in a statement, emphasizing the brand’s dedication to sustainability. The commitment reflects a growing trend toward adopting circular materials in the performance apparel sector, aligning with the brand’s goal to meet rigorous environmental and social standards.

Athleta wear.
Photo courtesy Athleta

Shay Sethi, CEO of Ambercycle, also highlighted the collaborative effort and its impact on moving the sector toward sustainable fashion. “As the demand for circular materials rises, we are delighted to collaborate with like-minded brands in the performance sector such as Athleta,” Sethi said. “Together, we are not only creating high-quality garments but also driving forward the circular fashion movement.” Last November, Ambercycle’s Cycora joined Danish luxury label Ganni’s “Fabrics of the Future” initiative.

Athleta is known for its fusion of performance and technical features across various categories, including yoga, training, and running. In February of last year, the brand unveiled its eight-piece Train collection, designed for high-impact activities such as cross-training. This collection is notable for its use of PowerMove fabric, composed of seventy-seven percent recycled polyester sourced from used plastic bottles. The PowerMove fabric is engineered to enhance workouts with features like supportive stretch, quick drying, breathability, and waistbands equipped with adhesive technology for a secure fit, preventing clothing shifts during exercise.

‘Find Your Movement’ campaign

Alongside the fabric makeover, Athleta also recently launched its “Find Your Movement” campaign to kick off Women’s History Month. This new multi-phase initiative is aimed at empowering women and girls and is part of Athleta’s broader goal to support the empowerment of women and gender equality.

“Find Your Movement” features the Power of She Collective, an ambassador group focusing on iconic women athletes established by Athleta in 2023. This collective is an extension of the brand’s Power of She campaign, which first emerged in 2016. “Power of She doesn’t ask anything of you, it’s there as an entity. ‘Find Your Movement’ completes the sentence,” Julia Leach, Athleta’s Chief Creative Officer, said in a statement. She says the concept of movement encompasses a wide array of activities and represents a broader push for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Athleta Find Your Movement campaign ad.
Athleta unveils a new, multi-chapter brand campaign, Find Your Movement, a rally cry of Athleta’s values, purpose, and role in this world – championing and celebrating the power and joy of movement, in any form. | Courtesy

Central to the “Find Your Movement” campaign is a 30-second hero spot showcasing Athleta’s brand partner athletes including a slew of female Olympians: gymnast Simone Biles, triathlete Katie Zaferes, and swimmer Katie Ledecky.

Athleta says it also plans to launch an impact platform later this year focused on events, community, and advocacy. “There is generally a mission for us to make a difference in the world that runs very deep, and that’s what we’ll be doing more with the platform that we launch in September so that it’s something meaningful,” said Leach. “It’s not just more content or a light lift, it will be about truly mattering in the world around the topic of women’s empowerment.”

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