The business of greenwashing in smart textiles

The business of greenwashing in smart textiles

Unfortunately, I quickly found out that the fashion industry is at the top of the list of the dirtiest industries in the world. Did you know that it is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, for example?

Dominic Hammann portance

I started my startup journey about three years ago. I woke up one morning and decided to develop sportswear. At the time, I knew little about the fashion industry. During my initial research, I quickly found out that it ranked high on the list of the dirtiest industries in the world. 

In this post I want to tell you about my learning curve in terms of fashion and smart textiles. We also take a look at anti-odor technology and how many established brands are greenwashing it. 

Sports fashion - can it be smarter and, above all, 'greener'?

We are only slowly becoming aware that the fashion industry produces millions of tons of textile waste every year. Many brands are therefore focusing on sustainability and new technologies to win over consumers.

In developing portance, I did a lot of research on the market and looked closely at what other brands were offering. When I started, I was really impressed by established D2C brands like ASRV, Odlo or Lululemon. But today I see things differently. Today I know that the business of greenwashing is almost everywhere in this industry I chose. And it's especially lucrative in the smart textiles sector. Consumers are charged a premium price for ultimate product features and new technologies. The anti-odor feature is a good example of this.

The greenwashing case for odorless fashion

Actually, the case is quite easy to explain: You can wear your clothes longer - because they develop less unpleasant odors - and therefore also have to wash them less often. This saves time, water and energy and is good for the planet. Less washing also increases the lifespan of your garment.So far, so good. The same goes for Portance Athletic Wear. But let's go a step further and take a closer look at the technology behind each brand's 'No Smell Promises'.

portance anti odor technology

Did you know that? In 90% of cases, the technology behind this anti-odor promise is nanosilver. It has antibacterial properties and can destroy odor-causing bacteria. However, this technology was invented over 40 years ago, and most brands unfortunately use here Ionic silver particles. These particles are chemical, so loaded and unpredictable. They are harmful to nature and to humans and can cause argyria. American D2C Brand ASRV, which stands for high-quality, ultimate athletic wear, uses a silver thread made of ionic silver in their NoSmell items. This is not the best choice, as you know by now.

What's more, the silver particles will wash out over time. This is bad in two respects: The ionic silver ends up in the wastewater and the effectiveness of the promised odor-neutral clothing diminishes extremely over time.

Lululemon - the case with the harmful biocide

After the previous example is already not good news, now comes the even worse: Lululemon stands for minimal, green sports and yoga clothing. The brand's sustainability image is great. But as always, we need to take a closer look at the brand and its technologies. The sustainability statements on Lululemon's website are big, thick and read great, such as this one: 'Be Planet - Our products and actions prevent environmental damage and help restore a healthy planet'; or 'We are committed to making products that are better in every way - for people and the planet'. You'll feel much better and have a clear conscience when you buy Lululemon premium products. 

portance vs Lululemon technology

I was looking at one of their basic shirts with anti-odor technology (or Stink Zinc™ technology, as the marketing likes to call it). The shirt is currently selling for €58 on the website. And here's the shocking fact: the shirt's Stink Zinc™ technology uses a biocide that is declared harmful and therefore banned for use in cosmetic products in Germany as of May 2022. Lululemon uses zinc pyrithione in its Fundamental T-shirt. This biocide is classified as toxic to reproduction, causes skin irritation and is toxic to aquatic organisms. Nice job, Lulu! 

For me, this was a total surprise. How can a company like Lululemon use a technology like zinc and still make all their nice and shiny sustainability claims?


And what about portance?

Now, of course, you are right to ask yourself what portance uses. In the technology section we give you full transparency about FUZE and explain how this technology works. With FUZE portance is the first sports fashion manufacturer in Europe to use what is currently the safest and most sustainable biotechnology ever invented. Read here more about it.

And, should you choose another brand, take a close look at the technology behind the brand's green promise!


Sporty greetings,


portance treated with fuze





The Zinc Biocide Shirt from Lulu (if you still want to buy it):
ASRV's anti-odor technology (SilverLite™) based on ionic silver filament:
About the ban and harmful effects of zinc pyrithione:
Lulu's sustainability promise to us:

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