"Seaweed" Clothing Lacks Seaweed, Tests Show

Have you purchased sportswear at Lululemon Athletica? If you have, you’re not alone, the store is doing quite well selling “organic” sportswear made of odd materials with dubious heath benefits.

For example, they claim that their seaweed fabric is “made with vitasea technology consisting of seaweed which releases marine amino acids minerals and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture,” and that the “fabric provides anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, stress reducing, hydrating and detoxifying features.” If that sounds like BS, it’s because it is.

The New York Times commissioned tests of Lululemon’s special seaweed clothing and found, you guessed it, no seaweed.

The New York Times commissioned a laboratory test of a Lululemon shirt made of VitaSea, and reviewed a similar test performed at another lab, and both came to the same conclusion: there was no significant difference in mineral levels between the VitaSea fabric and cotton T-shirts.

In other words, the labs found no evidence of seaweed in the Lululemon clothing.

“Seaweeds have known vitamins and minerals, and we searched specifically for those vitamins, and we didn’t see them,” said Carolyn J. Otten, director for specialized services at Chemir Analytical Services, a lab in Maryland Heights, Mo. that tested a sample of VitaSea.

When told about the findings, Lululemon’s founder said he could not dispute them.

“If you actually put it on and wear it, it is different from cotton,” said Dennis Wilson, Lululemon’s founder, chief product designer and board chairman. “That’s my only test of it,” said Mr. Wilson, known as Chip.

The shirt tested by The Times was labeled as being made of 70 percent cotton, 6 percent spandex and 24 percent of the seaweed fiber.

The Times commissioned its test after an investor who is shorting Lululemon’s stock — betting that its price will fall — provided Chemir’s test results to The Times.

The Times used a second lab, the McCrone Group, to test a blue racer-back tank top made with Lululemon’s VitaSea against a gray J. Crew T-shirt. McCrone, which is based in Westmont, Ill., likewise could not detect any seaweed-specific components. Though the labs could not absolutely rule out a trace of seaweed, they could not, using sensitive testing methods, substantiate Lululemon’s claims.

The story goes on to suggest that the store is being had by the fabric’s manufacturer, a German company called Smartfiber. Of course, all of this doesn’t mean that it’s not a nice shirt, but should serve as a wakeup call to everyone who thought that their shirt was keeping them hydrated and giving them vitamins and amino acids.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t believe everything you read. Often people think to themselves, “Well, they couldn’t say it unless it was true.” There’s just one problem with that theory. They can say it until someone with enough money to do independent laboratory tests proves it isn’t true.

‘Seaweed’ Clothing Has None, Tests Show
[New York Times]