How Ethical Is Under Armour? - Good On You
28 Apr

How Ethical Is Under Armour?

Founded in 1996, Under Armour is an American activewear brand that has slowly grown to be one of the biggest sportswear manufacturers in the world alongside Nike and Adidas. The brand, which sponsors athletes such as Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, and Lindsey Vonn, aims to inspire people with performance solutions they never knew they needed and can’t imagine living without. But what about its impact on the planet, people, and animals? How are Under Armour’s activities impacting the Earth and its inhabitants? We ask, how ethical is Under Armour?

Environmental Impact

Under Armour uses few eco-friendly materials. We found no evidence it minimises textile waste, that it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, or that it implements water reduction initiatives. Most of Under Armour’s activewear is made from polyester, a material derived from petroleum that usually takes hundreds of years to decompose. For all these reasons, Under Armour’s environment rating is ‘Very Poor’.

Labour Conditions

On the labour front, Under Armour is rated ‘Not Good Enough’. While some of its supply chain is certified by FLA Workplace Code of Conduct (including all of the final stage of production), the brand lacks transparency and received a score of 21-30% in the Fashion Transparency Index. In fact, Under Armour likely publishes information about its supplier policies, audits, and remediation processes, but it does not publish a comprehensive list of suppliers or information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. We also found no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain, or any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19!

Animal Welfare

There is no evidence Under Armour has a policy to minimise the suffering of animals, and while it does not use fur, angora, exotic animal skin or hair, it still uses leather, wool, and down. ‘Not Good Enough’!

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

So how ethical is Under Armour, you ask? Under Armour is ‘Not Good Enough’. Based on our research, we found that the American brand is doing very little to minimise its impact on the planet or ensure workers in its supply chain are safe and treated fairly. To get a better rating, Under Armour should start by disclosing more information about its practices and their impact, and ensuring the payment of a living wage.

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.

See the rating.

If you’re on the lookout for activewear and sports gear but don’t fancy Under Armour’s negative impacts, we found some cool and sustainable alternatives just for you!

Good Swaps

Sustainable alternatives to Under Armour

nu-in

Rated: Good

Offers

black woman wearing beige sustainable activewear by nu-in

nu-in – Activewear

Sustainable activewear made from eco-friendly materials and reused offcuts to minimise textile waste. 15% off first order of activewear with code GOODONYOU15. (Ends: 25 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now

nu-in is a European brand that features activewear, loungewear, and underwear collections, as well as trend-led men's and women's ranges. It prioritises the planet by using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, and reuses offcuts to minimise textile waste. The brand is inclusively sized, and features an extended sizing range up to 6XL!

See the rating.

Shop nu-in.

Boody

Rated: Good

Made from organically grown bamboo, Boody is an Australian clothing brand that supports the trend for all things green and ethical. Find the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

Elle Evans

Rated: Great
woman wearing elle evans sport bra

Founded in 2013, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, sustainable, swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain. The range is stocked in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.

tentree

Rated: Good
woman stretching in pink sustainable activewear by tentree

tentree is a Canadian sustainable lifestyle brand that plants 10 trees for every item purchased. The certified B-Corp brand has already helped to remove tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and reforested over 5,000 hectares of land (that’s equal to 12,000 football fields). But its commitment to sustainability extends way beyond trees. Using recycled, organic, and circular fabrics, tentree cuts down on huge amounts of waste and water usage with every piece. We love it for its super comfy fabrics and easy wardrobe staples that are available from XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop tentree.

Nube

Rated: Good

Nube turns recycled plastic into responsible and fashionable activewear, designed and made in the US. The brand partners with artists and designers around the world to create prints motivated by the environmental crisis that inspire connection and action. This fully woman-owned business uses a closed-loop manufacturing process by recycling all off-cuts created during the manufacturing process. Find Nube products in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Nube.

MATE the Label

Rated: Great

MATE the Label creates clean essentials made with GOTS certified organic fabrics and low-impact dyes. Its goal is to offer women everywhere a clean product that is just as beautiful as it is sustainable. It is proudly female-founded and is predominately operated by women. This US brand also manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint. Find the range in inclusive sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop MATE the Label.

Adidas

Rated: Good
The feet of a man wearing green, red and black trainers.

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.

See the rating.

Shop Adidas @ Luisa via Roma.

Shop Adidas Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Adidas.

Sage Larock

Rated: Good
woman wearing ethical leggings by sage larock

Made in-house by a small team in LA, sustainable luxury brand Sage Larock produces timeless swimwear and activewear that is sure to turn heads. Its stunning pieces are made from an Italian recycled plastic fabric that is high-quality and long-lasting—and a percentage of profits from each sale goes to support marine conservation non-profits! Sage Larock stocks sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Sage Larock.

Nike (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start
man of colour wearing black Nike sportswear and images of second hand Nike sweater and sneakers

Nike is an American sportswear and activewear manufacturer. The brand has good policies to audit suppliers in its supply chain, but it is not taking adequate steps to ensure payment of a living wage for its workers. By buying Nike second hand you're helping keep clothes out of landfills and helping protect workers by slowing down the fast fashion cycle and the relentless demands on low-paid workers in the supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Nike Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Reebok (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Reebok has set some good environmental and labour standards over the years. It is a founding member of the Better Cotton Initiative, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and is partially certified by Bluesign.

See the rating.

Shop Reebok Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

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 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 more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.