The Sustainability of Athletic Wear Brands’ Supply Chain

By: Alexandra Kueller

Two weeks ago we introduced SSC’s latest peer benchmarking analysis, and last week we introduced an in-depth look at three of the six dimensions – governance, environment, and workplace that we analyzed during our process. This week we will finish our analysis of each dimension with today’s focus being on supply chain.

In order to have a sustainable supply chain, a company must analyze its supply chain in terms of environment, risk, and waste costs. As sustainable supply chains become more crucial to companies, the notion of long-term profitability has taken center stage. What SSC looks for in our peer benchmarking process is that the supply chain is focused on four categories: materials stewardship, green purchasing, social standards, and supplier engagement.

Overview of the Supply Chain Dimension


  • Nike – 14
  • Adidas – 21
  • Puma – 17
  • Lululemon – 14
  • Under Armour – 5

The supply chain dimension is strong overall with each company recording points in the three of the four categories: social standards, supplier engagement, and materials stewardship. While green purchasing is a major theme for many companies, it is not highlighted and requires substantial website searching to find a policy.

Materials Stewardship

All five companies address materials stewardship, with Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon leading the way. Under Armour briefly mentions a materials stewardship policy. The four leading companies in this category do an excellent job with stating a clear policy on materials stewardship and all have at least one supporting program to back up the policy. Nike, Adidas, and Puma also supply some data on materials stewardship, which is also included in their sustainability reports.

Green Purchasing

The category of green purchasing was an interesting one. It is evident that all the companies are striving to make their products as sustainable as possible, but finding information to verify those claims is difficult. Excessive clicking through these companies’ websites reveals that Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Lululemon address green purchasing. Every company has at least one policy on the subject and a program as well, but the details aren’t always readily available.

Social Standards

Social standards are a strong category for many companies. Two companies – Adidas and Puma – received top points in this category.  Nike was not too far behind, but they do not provide as detailed performance data like Adidas and Puma. Lululemon and Under Armour both scored some points as well in the social standards category, but only due to a strong policy. Meanwhile these two companies lack examples of programs or data.

Supplier Engagement

As far as categories are concerned Adidas once again scored top points, but this time coming from supplier engagement. Puma and Lululemon are not far behind Adidas, but they both lack any sort of performance data. Nike and Under Armour received the lowest amount of points since Nike only has a brief policy mention and a supporting program. Under Armour only has one strong policy.

Click here to catch up on the governance dimension, environment dimension, workplace dimension, community dimension, and product dimension.