I Tried Lululemon’s First Plant-Based Workout Top

Photo: Courtesy of Lululemon.
It’s no secret that Lululemon has perfected the science of feel. The fabrics from beloved styles like the Align leggings are the stuff of oft-copied, never-imitated legend. Now, the iconic athleisure brand is adding a brand-new sustainable fabric to its portfolio — and it’s made from plants. (Yes, the leafy things that grow from the earth.)
To close out Earth Month, Lululemon has partnered with biotech company Geno to unveil a sugarcane-derived nylon, and it is rolling out in two iconic styles for women and men: The Swiftly Tech Short-Sleeve and Metal Vent Tech Short-Sleeve, two tops that are ideal for sweat-heavy activities like running and cardio. As a fitness lover (and planet lover), I knew I had to try the shirt out to see how it compared to my OG Swiftly Techs
Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Without getting too science-y (mostly because I haven't taken chemistry since high school), San Diego-based Geno's process of making high-tech, earth-friendly nylon is pretty rad stuff: Via a five-step process that begins with plant sugars (which have also found their way into things like foam for sneaker soles), sugar-based nylon is made and then spun into clothing.
For a Pilates class at my favorite local studio, I paired my plant-based tee with a Flow Y bra and my go-to Align leggings for an H2T Lululemon look. The fabric felt cool and dry to the touch against my skin, and I loved how easy breezy it was, even as I sweated my way through a reformer workout and treadmill jogs.
At $68, it’s priced the same as the regular Swiftly Tech Short-Sleeve, and at first feel, felt virtually identical to the one I know and love. I usually wear a size 4 in Lululemon tops, and the Swiftly Tech Short-Sleeve fits me like a glove, just like my other Swiftlies. (A lone critique: The plant-based nylon Swiftly Tech goes up to a size 14, whereas the regular Swiftly Techs go up to size 20.)
One thing to note is that Lululemon's eco-Swiftly Tech only comes in one colorway — the vibrant lime pictured above — which I didn’t mind whatsoever since green is my favorite color. (Also, very on theme for Earth Month.) However, since Lululemon pieces usually come in a rainbow of permanent and limited-edition hues, I personally hope that one day the sustainable counterpart has more options to switch things up.
I'll admit I was a little nervous putting it in my washing machine, so I zipped it up into a delicates bag and crossed my fingers for luck. It came out totally fine (yay!), and I hung it on a drying rack, which I do with all my workout clothes in order to retain shape and fabric quality.) I didn't detect any shrinkage, but again, I'm militant about washing my nice clothes in cold water.
All in all, I'm beyond stoked for this new, sustainable chapter in Lululemon's performance apparel. The styles are admittedly limited (and the women's top is nearly sold out, unfortunately), so I'm personally hoping that this is just the beginning of more planet-friendly innovation to come.
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