Reebok - best known for its athletic shoes - is a subsidiary branch of Adidas and offers workout clothes with a performance-driven design, elevated fabrics, and continuous comfort. Their Identity Big Logo Joggers are intended for rest days because the soft-cotton-blend French Terry feels good on your skin and the waist drawcord is easily adjustable. The typical cost is $45+ tax plus shipping, however, I personally think this price is only slightly reasonable because there are several environmental costs and at-home specifications on extra care needed for apparel maintenance. Although advertisements throughout the years have made us familiar with brand names, they often say little to nothing about the life cycle implications or the sustainability of the products or brands themselves. The fashion industry has had long-standing issues concerning its ethics and sustainability, therefore, it’s necessary for us to constantly demand further transparency and accountability for Reebok’s eco-friendly promises and goals.
Although Reebok is under Adidas, this does not imply that their practices are identical because the Reebok branch primarily serves as extra income for Adidas and uses less sustainable materials. The material composition of the Identity Big Logo Joggers is 80% cotton with 20% recycled polyester French Terry. Cotton is one of the most widely used materials within the fashion industry and it can have substantial negative impacts if it’s not organic, for example. I was able to find very little information available on the cotton that Reebok uses, but not being organic implies the use of pesticides and other growth regulators. Furthermore, we don’t know the concentrations used by these regulators, and this lack of transparency hides the impacts regardless of how detrimental they may be. Recycled polyester makes up 20% of the material, and being recycled shows Reebok taking steps towards sustainability, even if insufficient. Recycled polyester reduces the extraction of raw materials and emissions, but it does not stop the dependence on it since no claims were made on what portion was recycled vs raw polyester. Also, polyester is a fossil-fuel-based product with a short consumer lifespan, making it less sustainable if we aim to reduce our carbon footprint. Polyester is still of concern because it does not biodegrade and is persistent in our aquatic environments through the release of microplastics. Since Adidas implemented more sustainable materials into their products, the same should be expected for Reebok to demonstrate Adidas’ genuine commitment to sustainable practices rather than just attaining a monopoly.
Reebok and Adidas integrated their supply chains and terminated business relationships with suppliers who did not meet the criteria established by the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA) Forum and the Fair Labor Association that protect workers’ rights. Termination of business notice was given at least 6 months in advance and Adidas aided with the transition and handful of layoffs. I was unable to unearth much regarding the “transition” for manufacturers. Based on my research, the aid ensured a continuous flow of materials to produce goods but nothing was mentioned regarding financial compensation for workers. Limited information like this is frustrating because it leaves unanswered questions and a lack of transparency in how working conditions reflect the workers living conditions. Labor laws vary globally, and even though Adidas complies with local laws and regulations, this does not imply ideal conditions because some countries use fewer restrictions which leads to the overexploitation of workers. Monitoring of product quality and durability throughout the supply chain is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction, and I believe a sustainable aspect should be implemented to understand both the quality and external costs associated. Reebok claims to monitor restricted substances - substances harmful or suspected to be harmful to humans/the environment - in their products, but I was unable to find tangible evidence supporting this claim. I struggled and was concerned because many of their products are dyed, yet I found no information on the dye materials and processes. Similarly, there was minuscule information regarding transportation costs in terms of emissions. Transparency is not just making positive claims, it needs to be followed by adequate action and supported with factual evidence.
Since 2005, Reebok has been a subsidiary of Adidas, however, it has some ways to go before it reaches the same level of recognition and “sustainability” as them. Adidas may not be the most sustainable, but it has more overall sustainable practices throughout its products compared to Reebok. This catches my attention because Reebok is under Adidas, yet progress might be hindered so that Adidas utilizes Reebok as a greenwashing tactic to appear the more sustainable option. Reebok’s sustainability strategies have no clear plan and revolve around the reduction of waste, water, and energy, which to me, is the bare minimum requirement that corporations should be targeting. Reduction is important, but so is finding replacement materials that are as effective and more environmentally friendly. Initially, it may seem like an immense challenge, but a shift to a single biodegradable material can spark a domino effect of sustainable changes for the company. Reebok’s human rights claims support fair wages and business practices, however, no reports have been released on the recent improvements or targets hit. Aside from this, Reebok is currently sifting through nominations to select a few Champions of Change for their Human Rights Awards in partnership with Alabama State University and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This award comes with $100,000 for each recipient and is meant to uplift individuals creating change, raise global awareness of racial disparities and systemic inequality, and create opportunities for community action. This award provides the opportunity for the corporation to hear how their consumers are activists, thinkers, and doers putting in local efforts to combat systemic racism. Although support is important and appreciated, Reebok should also acknowledge and change any of its systems or processes that currently perpetuate systemic racism, disproportionately impact BIPOC communities, and negatively affect the well-being of employees.