02 Mar

How Ethical Is Champion?

Champion may make “activewear for all”, but is it ticking all the boxes? How ethical is Champion? Read on to discover why this classic sportswear brand is falling behind.

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 sustainability page on its website, but it’s not promising. As a subsidiary of Hanesbrands, it claims it is “well on [its] way to achieving [its] 2020 global environmental goals”. 2020 has been and gone, and while the brand has indeed set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations, there’s no target for the supply chain. There is also no evidence Champion has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, and it uses few eco-friendly materials. While it does reuse some offcuts to minimise textile waste, that alone isn’t enough to mitigate its impact on the planet, so there’s a lot of work to do here. “Not Good Enough”.

Labour conditions

On the labour front, Champion is making small efforts to improve conditions. Some of its supply chain is certified by the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct in the final stage of production, and it likely publishes information about its suppliers and their policies, audits, and remediation processes. It may also be publishing limited information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. However, with a score of 31-40% in the Fashion Transparency Index, there is still plenty of room for improvement. To top it off, there is no evidence Champion pays a living wage to the people who make its popular apparel. Champion also scores “Not Good Enough” here.

Animal welfare

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

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 and Adidas, 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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Sustainable alternatives to Champion

Afends

Rated: Good

Afends is an Australia-based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact. You can find the full range in sizes XS-XL.

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Kings of Indigo

Rated: Good

Kings of Indigo makes quality denims, tops, and accessories inspired by American classics with a Japanese eye for detail. The brand uses GOTS organic cotton as well as recycled cotton and wool, and avoids all chemicals from the REACH chemical list. Find sizes XS-L.

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Shop Kings of Indigo @ thegreenlabels.

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Flamingos’ Life

Rated: Good

Flamingos' Life creates sneakers for men and women 100% animal-free. The brand uses eco-friendly and PETA vegan approved materials, including upcycled materials. Find the range in sizes 36-46.

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tentree

Rated: Good

Canadian brand tentree believes big change starts small. Small as in bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store, making fewer, more thoughtful purchases, and choosing to purchase sustainably when you do. The brand plants ten trees for every item purchased to help regenerate ecosystems and provide planting jobs in communities around the world, and has already planted over 65 million trees.

All tentree’s products are created with an Earth-First approach, meaning they're made in fair, safe working conditions, and constructed using only sustainably sourced and recycled materials. tentree’s super comfy fabrics and easy wardrobe staples are typically available from XS to XL.

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Plant Faced Clothing

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Streetwear without sweatshops, that's the motto of this British 100% plant-based, ethical, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand. Buy Plant Faced Clothing in sizes XS-2XL.

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Adidas (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Adidas is one of the largest sportswear makers in the world. The company has set some good environmental and labour standards, including an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations.

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Shop Adidas Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

 

Editor's note

Feature image via Champion, 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 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. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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