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Athleta Turns Cutting-Floor Waste into ‘SuperSonic’ Workout Wear

Athleta is moving faster than the speed of sound. Figuratively, anyway.

This month, the Gap-owned B Corp is introducing SuperSonic, a highly technical fabric spun from recycled nylon that “lessens our impact on the world.” Athleta created the yarn by recovering its own cutting-floor scraps, a move that the brand says has diverted 15 tons of waste from the landfill to date.

“We spent two full years developing our highest-performing fabric yet, and it’s already recycled over 6 million miles of scrap nylon yarn,” Athleta said. “That’s enough to wrap around the planet 247 times. And we didn’t sacrifice one ounce of performance.”

The fabric, the brand added, boasts breathability, supportive compression and an “aerodynamic finish.” It’s also rated UPF 50+, wicks sweat away from the body and dries quickly.

Made in Fair Trade-certified factories, the SuperSonic collection features a dozen color-block and camo-print styles, including racerback bras, crop tops, leggings, capri tights, bike shorts, a tennis dress and a unitard.

Athleta has timed the lineup’s release with its Race for the Planet Campaign, a challenge to the brand’s community to run 24,901 miles, or “the total circumference of the earth.”

For every mile logged between July 30 and Aug. 31 on the Charity Miles app, Athleta will donate $1 (up to $24,901) to the Nature Conservancy, a national environmental nonprofit.

SuperSonic follows the launch of two other new swimwear fabrics this past spring/summer: H2Eco, a recycled nylon/Lycra that Athleta says rescued 72,264 kilograms of waste, and Aquarib, which uses Econyl, a regenerated nylon derived from abandoned fishing nets and other discarded material.

Athleta has pledged to make 80 percent of its materials with sustainable fibers and 25 percent with water-saving techniques by 2020. (Progress stands at 60 percent and 4 percent, respectively.) The company also plans to “fully offset” the energy consumption at its San Francisco headquarters and all 160 of its stores, beginning 2020, through a purchase agreement with The Corporate Renewable Energy Aggregation Group.