Lululemon Athletica is in the hot seat. Animal rights activist group PETA — which owns shares of Lululemon — submitted a shareholder resolution request Wednesday to the athletic apparel and accessories retailer’s board, asking Lululemon to reveal information regarding how Lululemon sources its goose down, which is used in some Lululemon jackets.
PETA said shareholders have a right to know if Lululemon’s practices are “incompatible” with its animal welfare policy, and if so, how the company plans to reduce its impact on the animals.
“Lululemon is selling jackets filled with the feathers of birds who are violently killed, betraying the yoga principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, that it splashes on its shopping bags,” Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “PETA’s resolution would prove to Lululemon that it’s misleading its customers about the suffering and deaths of animals in its supply chain.”
A spokesperson for Lululemon confirmed that the company received PETA’s shareholder proposal, asking the retailer to list down as an item in its proxy statement, as well as Lululemon’s 2022 annual meeting.
Lululemon did not say whether it would include down in the proxy statement or on the agenda of its 2022 annual meeting, but did say through the spokesperson that “we are committed to upholding strong animal welfare practices by working with our vendors to have visibility into down sources and can confirm 100 percent of our down products are certified RDS, a standard that is considered industry best practice.”
The retailer added on its website that “we require that animals in our supply chain are treated humanely and with respect. We don’t use down that comes from birds that have been live plucked or force fed. We work to ensure the traceability of our entire supply chain by following an industry best practice called the Responsible Down Standard. The goal of the RDS is to protect and improve the welfare of the ducks and geese that provide down and feathers. Following the RDS ensures that our down comes from geese that have been treated humanely.”
In Lululemon’s 2020 Impact Agenda, which outlined the retailer’s multiyear social and environmental efforts, the company went one step further, saying that, “a full 100 percent of our animal-derived materials will be traceable or certified in line with our Animal-Derived Materials Policy by 2025. Since 2016, 100 percent of our down has been fully traceable and certified to meet the Responsible Down Standard. We are working toward responsibly sourced wool that is traceable and preferably certified by a third party, such as the Responsible Wool Standard. We’ll continue to increase visibility and transparency for the rest of our supply chain.”
PETA shot back, claiming that “all birds used for down end up at slaughterhouses, where they are typically hung upside down, they’re electroshocked, their throats are slit and their bodies are dumped into scalding water for de-feathering.
“More and more consumers are prioritizing corporate transparency and cruelty-free fashion,” PETA said in its resolution. “Lululemon’s consumer base expects our company to uphold values, such as mindfulness and honesty touted on its website. Consequently, our shareholders deserve full disclosure on the slaughter methods used to obtain down in order to assess whether or not these methods align with our company’s humane claims and values.”
Lululemon uses goose down as insulation in some of its outerwear pieces, a partnership with down supplier Downlite, because it has a “higher warmth-to-weight ratio than other materials used for insulation,” according to Lululemon’s website. “This means more warmth with less bulk, making it an excellent high-performance material for layering and sweaty pursuits.”
Downlite also partners with Ralph Lauren, Patagonia, Canada Goose, Vuori, Banana Republic and The North Face, among others, according to the company’s website.