In the year In the early 2000s, Lululemon was one of the first companies to use seaweed-derived fabric, created by a company called SeaCell. Lululemon touts the ingredient online as containing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can reduce stress. But in the year A 2007 New York Times investigation tested SeaCell fabric and found no evidence to support those medical claims. In fact, the Times’ testing found no trace of seaweed in the fabric.
Lululemon continues to carry the fabric it uses for its VitaSea clothing line, but all requests for the drug have disappeared from the market and its website. Instead, the brand focuses on the material’s breathability and comfort. But other companies, such as Leticia Credidio, Pangaia, Vuori and Cicecel, continue to tout the fabric’s medicinal benefits despite the lack of supporting evidence.
A page on SeaCell’s website about the benefits of seaweed fabric reads, “Seaweed is added as an active ingredient for good reason. The fact that this marine plant is rich in trace elements has been widely known since the days of Chinese medicine, and seaweed has been proven to protect the skin and have anti-inflammatory properties. Germany-based SeaCell did not respond to requests for comment.
A dermatologist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no research to back up SeaCell’s claims. Although seaweed contains many vitamins and nutrients, there is no scientific support for the idea that wearing clothing made from seaweed will in any way deliver those vitamins to the skin.
Still, Leticia Credidio, a Canadian designer name, uses Siselle as a selling point. “The unique properties of seaweed help protect our skin from the harmful environmental influences that we are exposed to in our daily lives,” the site says in one product description of Sessel’s Nightgown. Leticia Credidio did not respond to requests for comment.
In the year In a 2015 blog post, activewear brand Vuri announced it would begin using sisal fabric, saying it is “rich in minerals, proteins and trace elements that are naturally metabolized by the skin when worn.” Vuori still sells clothes made from it cloth, and claims about its medicinal benefits are still on the site. The brand did not comment in time for publication of this story.
A company that prides itself on material innovation, Pangaea also uses SeaCell fabric, but most of its marketing efforts focus on the sustainability of using the material. Seaweed is 100% biodegradable. Pangaia is harvested once every four years, allowing it to fully and naturally regenerate between harvests.
Pangaea’s website includes the line about its seaweed fabric: “Saltwater seaweed is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and minerals.” But a Pangaea representative said that doesn’t mean those ingredients can be absorbed through the skin.
“Seaweed is a naturally renewable resource that grows abundantly under the sea,” a representative told Glossy in an email. “Overall, it has many great properties, but our fiber is clearly not designed to provide any benefits to the skin.”
It has become increasingly common over the past five years for brands to highlight the health benefits of their clothing. Vibrant Body Co., for example, guarantees that its clothing is free of more than 100 common toxins found in other intimate products. Swiss brand Grafenberg says the antioxidants in its clothes reduce the number of “free radicals,” or wrinkle-causing substances, which has some scientific backing.
Standardization and regulation of the various claims made about the sustainability and health benefits of clothing and production processes is a major issue in the fashion industry, with the European Union introducing countermeasures this year. Fashion has long been a largely unregulated space in terms of what brands can say in their ads, but that’s slowly changing, said Rania Sedom, managing partner of Sedom Law Group, who specializes in fashion law.
“There are rules about names in all kinds of things,” Sedom said. “Wine can only be called certain varieties, for example, if they come from certain regions. But fashion has never had anything like it.