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Someone sitting on a curb wearing streetwear, including a white Champion t-shirt.
17 May
Someone sitting on a curb wearing streetwear, including a white Champion t-shirt.

How Ethical Is Champion?

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Champion may make “activewear for all”, but is it ticking all the boxes? How ethical is Champion? Here’s why the brand is rated “Not Good Enough” overall. This article is based on the Champion rating, which was published in March 2023 and may not reflect claims the brand has made since then. Our ratings analysts are constantly rerating the thousands of brands you can check on our directory.

Is Champion an ethical and sustainable brand?

For the past century, Champion has been leading innovations in athleticwear. It has boasted decades outfitting major league basketballers in the NBA and worked with famous American football teams. Fun fact: it even claims to have invented the first-ever hoodie. These days, it’s a go-to global brand for anyone who likes to rep branded sports fashion on the daily. But as Hanesbrands’ second-largest label that stocks hundreds of items, is it championing any notable efforts for people, the planet, and animals? Just how ethical is Champion? Let’s take a look.

Environmental impact

Champion may have a Road to Sustainability page on its website and an Eco Future collection made from organic cotton and recycled polyester, but it’s not looking promising through a wider lens. As a subsidiary of Hanesbrands, it claims it is “ramping up efforts to pursue ambitious goals that will improve the lives of people, protect the planet, and generate world-class sustainable product.” So, what is the brand actually doing to match these lofty goals?

While Champion uses some lower-impact materials in some of its range, and recycles some offcuts to minimise waste, the good news ends there. There’s no evidence it’s taking actions to protect biodiversity in its supply chain, nor does it appear to be taking meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals in manufacturing. And don’t be fooled into thinking an “eco collection” solves much, especially when it makes up approximately 2% of the brand’s total listed products.

While it’s positive to see such popular brands taking an interest in sustainability, if they aren’t taking deeper action across the supply chain to address their impacts on the planet, then it just reeks of greenwashing. “Not Good Enough”.

Labour conditions

On the labour front, Champion is making some small efforts to improve conditions for its workers, but still has a long way to go. While it has a basic policy to support diversity and inclusion in its direct operations and supply chain, and ensures some workers in the final production stage are paid living wages, little of its supply chain is certified by crucial labour standards that help ensure worker health and safety, living wages, and other rights.

Champion’s Fashion Transparency Index score also dropped from 31-40% to 1-30% in the 2022 report, a disappointing backwards step, and the brand has taken insufficient steps to remediate its links to cotton sourced from Xinjiang, a region in China at risk of Uyghur forced labour. Champion also scores “Not Good Enough” here.

Animal welfare

On the plus side for animals, Champion doesn’t appear to use wool, down, fur, angora, exotic animal skin, or exotic animal hair in its products. The good news ends there, however. We found no sign of a formal animal welfare policy; it uses leather, and it doesn’t seem to trace any animal products even to the first production stage.

Due to a reduction in animal-derived materials used in its range, its score has seen a slight improvement and gone from “Not Good Enough” to “It’s a Start” in the latest review, but the brand still has work to it for animal welfare across its leather supply chain.

Overall rating: Not good enough

So, how ethical is Champion? Based on our research and robust ratings methodology, we have awarded Champion an overall score of “Not Good Enough”, our second-lowest option. Champion may have invented the hoodie, but it needs to reinvent its policies and production practices if it’s going to keep up with other leaders in the sportswear space like Nike, who are doing more across the board.

See the rating.

Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

Love the look of branded athleticwear but hate Champion’s results? Check out our pick of “Good” and “Great” brands like Champion you’ll love.

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Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands, rated “Good” or “Great”. We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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