In general, KitKing is a company that offers a variety of kit from an impressive range of brands such as Adidas and Nike at a heavily discounted price. This unfortunately means the level of sustainability varies according to which company the consumer chooses as opposed to a standardised level across all products. KitKing specialises in teamwear which has the option to be personalised using two core options of printing and embroidering. However, it is noteworthy that this company has not published any environmental reports, assessment of product impact, or values for their workers. Significantly, there is also a large number of partnerships with brands such as Under Armour which have already demonstrated an immensely negative environmental rating from Voiz. This focus on profit without environmental regard has thus resulted in such a low overall score.
Since KitKing offers clothing from a range of companies, the material of the product often varies. This means it is entirely up to the producer how sustainable their kit is, and this is made even more confusing for the consumer by the inconsistency of several companies. For example, Nike utilised materials created from either 100% polyester or 100% recycled polyester, without a clear indication of why one was used in preference over the other. Even more so, some companies refused to state any materials at all, most problematically demonstrated by own-branded KitKing items such as the SFCA Bundle 1. This displays a severe lack of transparency concerning their products and indicates a lack of care about the sustainability of their materials.
Overall, polyester prevailed from a majority of these companies. This is immensely damaging to the environment for numerous reasons, primarily due to its production releasing dangerous waste such as manganese salts, as well as the plastic nature resulting in it being non-biodegradable. Moreover, numerous products have clearly labelled seasons such as the ‘2022-23 season’, which indicates a lack of long-term planning and instead a focus on annual turnaround and temporary quality.
However, there is some effort towards sustainability from Adidas, which claims numerous items are made with Primegreen. This means that the polyester used is 100% recycled in nature, yet the company does not state the origin of this recycled material nor the process behind incorporating these recycled materials. Furthermore, even recycled polyester still has damaging environmental effects, since it does not guarantee the product itself can be recycled and still adds to plastic pollution by releasing microplastics. Nike does demonstrate a push towards sustainability upon further investigation. They are one of the largest purchasers of recycled polyester and have a distinct section for sustainable clothes on their website. However, this section is not present on KitKing’s own website, and it is not stated that the removal of plastic packaging that Nike has incorporated into their own products is also present in KitKing’s own packaging.
The general inconsistency of recycled polyester, lack of transparency in KitKing’s own products as well as environmental effort being contingent on the consumer has resulted in a low rating. The attempts from other companies centred towards sustainability is not enough to outweigh these factors and it appears to be more accidental rather than a purposeful move on KitKing’s part to select partially sustainable companies.
The process that KitKing directly contributes towards is in the personalisation of kit. This can range between adding Sponsor Logos to personal initials and names. There are two core ways a badge can be added, which is either through embroidering or through the process of vinyl printing. This printing is allegedly done ‘in-house’ though no factories or places are specifically mentioned, which demonstrates yet again a lack of transparency. Moreover, the overall process of vinyl printing is not sustainable since the vinyl itself is one of the most toxic substances both to the environment and to humans. Vinyl is partly made from crude oil which depletes non-renewable resources and the fact that it is a synthetic product means it is non-biodegradable. The entire manufacture, usage, and discarding of vinyl releases chemicals such as mercury and PCBs, which generates immense pollution. This also means vinyl cannot be recycled as easily due to this chemical release.
It is not stated whether embroidering is done by hand or by machine, but the lack of transparency is worrying. This is because if it is hand made, this can lead to cheap prices and mass production via slave labor or paying below the minimum mage. If done by machine, this uses energy, yet KitKing does not state how much energy it consumes in both processes nor whether this energy is renewable or not. Furthermore, there is no indication of whether environmentally friendly packaging is used such as cardboard and made to order methods, as well as a lack of transparency regarding how far the product travels. Other companies that KitKing is partnered with do display a good level of transparency concerning factories and their location. For example, Adidas offers a comprehensive list made accessible to the public, but this only demonstrates the mass outsourcing of factories and high amount of travel products must undergo.
There is a notable absence of ethical values concerning workers and the environment, regulatory checks for worker conditions, and future aims on the KitKing website. This is particularly worrying considering the problematic partnerships that KitKing has, since numerous companies have been at the centre of labour scandals. For example, both Adidas and Nike have been under fire for dire working conditions and unfair wages, with Adidas even accused of child labour at multiple factories in Indonesia. In fact, after the drive against sweatshops peaking in the 1990s, Nike instead in 2017 left the Workers Rights Consortium. This demonstrates a considerable lack of care from KitKing in not releasing a statement or working with non-profit organisations to end poor working conditions, considering they are partnered with companies that have been flagrant in their disregard for workers.
Moreover, there is an absence of standard certification for their products, such as a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) for all products, let alone any standard for the companies they employ, which is extremely questionable. The discounted prices also adds to this worry since there is a cutting of costs to these branded items somewhere in the process. There is no future aims centred on improving the sustainability or ethics of their products, which illustrates there is a lack of care for the environment and workers by KitKing.