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Do you know what swimwear is made from? The answer may come as a surprise. Most swimwear is made from nylon, a plastic-based material that is generally very bad news for the environment.
The good news is that there are some great swimwear brands out there that are using more sustainable materials and giving back in a number of ways. Whatever your style and lifestyle, we’ve rounded up a few of the best for you.
NOTE: as with all purchases, we strongly recommend that you give every purchase a good amount of thought, and only buy things that you will truly love to use.
Why Sustainable Swimwear?
Imagine swimming in clean oceans, free of waste and clean for you and all the animals that inhabit them. This dream doesn’t have to live only in your imagination, and a number of ethical swimwear brands are making that dream a reality right now. Name brands are bringing their eco swimwear lines to runways and store racks around the world. Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword on people’s lips – it’s becoming integral to the future of fashion as more and more shoppers are looking for ways to shop responsibly.
And with more and more brands making eco-friendly promises, there are a number of ways – from donations, ethically sourced fabrics, and slow fashion models – that you can support these lines in doing good while looking good.
But isn’t sustainable clothing always more expensive?
The short answer: yes. Sustainable fashion is generally more expensive than fast fashion.
If a bikini for $10 seems like a deal too good to be true, it probably is. Fast fashion is responsible for huge global clothing waste, higher emissions and human rights abuses as brands seek to create more, quick pieces.
Another way to look at it is in terms of durability and quality. Sure, you may buy a cheap bikini top and bottom for $10 each, but they will likely only last you one summer. In the long run, this will probably actually be more expensive as you continue to buy new suits every year.
An integral part of sustainable clothing is using high-quality fabrics that are durable and often made from recycled waste. And with many swimwear brands embracing mix and match styles, and reversible pieces, you may find a sustainable swimsuit that, while a bit more expensive, can be worn in a number of ways and last MUCH longer.
How to Choose the Best Swimwear for You
When looking into buying new swimwear, really consider how you will ultimately be wearing it. No one wants an embarrassing bikini slip when that big wave hits, or zig-zagging tan lines when you have a backless dress to wear the next evening.
- What activities will you be doing in your swimwear – are you more likely to be found paddle boarding or lounging by the pool?
- What colours best suit your colouring?
- Which styles and fits do you feel most comfortable in?
- Do you want something with simple cuts that won’t give you crazy tan lines?
- Or possibly you want something with sexy cutouts that accentuates your figure?
Whatever the case, keep in mind a style, color, and fit that will make you feel your best.
Below are some great swimwear brands focused in their own ways on sustainable practices and sourcing. Each brand has their own promise, mission, and style for your lifestyle and personality. Read on to learn more and find the best ethical swimwear for you.
The Best Sustainable Swimwear brands
At a 2020 runway show during Miami Swim Week, a Vitamin A model strode down the catwalk donning a shirt that read, “Sustainability is Sexy.” The brand effortlessly marries ethics and summer looks that reminds shoppers they don’t have to choose. In fact, when searching on their site, they’ll even tell you how many gallons of water saved, ounces of waste diverted, and pounds of emissions avoided by buying their sustainable products. They are able to do this by not only utilising eco-friendly materials, but committing to sustainable shipping and factory practices, as well.
Arguably the original sustainable swim brand, Vitamin A’s founder, Amahlia Stevens, could not find the sustainable fabric she wanted to produce her swimwear line, so she created EcoLux™ — the first premium swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibers. They also use high-performance textiles including recycled cotton and plant-based Tencel that can stand up to sun and surf.
Vitamin A’s swimwear comes in a variety of styles and colors for every summer mood. Whether you’re looking for a stringy bikini perfect for sunbathing or a supporting bra-top suited for swimming, their site makes it easy to shop by fit or style.
Check out their latest styles here.
Woodlike Ocean’s philosophy is to “create feminine eco-friendly swimwear with a perfect fit and a sporty twist.” As part of the Healthy Seas Initiative, Woodlike Ocean delivers on their sustainability promise by committing a 1% for the Planet donation to Healthy Seas, which helps remove and recycle recovered plastic bottles and ghost nets into the same ECONYL® fabric they use for their swimwear.
Sport and support come to mind in browsing their offerings, but there are sleeker styles, as well. Choose from thicker straps to bikini straps, one strap or bandeaus. If you’re looking for high-performance sport suits, UV protection, or just more moderate styles, Woodlike also offers flattering long-sleeved one-pieces.
The colors and styles are simple and can be mixed and matched among their tops and bottoms. They also offer form-sculpting leggings perfect for yoga, surfing, or lounging after a day on the beach that match with a number of the bathing suit colors and patterns.
10% off with code ECODESK10
Look through their offerings here.
Align Swim is all about eco swimwear that “aligns to your body.” Their products also use ECONYL®, a light but durable swimwear fabric rendered from recycled materials from landfills and the ocean. Perfect for a day by the pool or sunning yourself at the beach, their super-soft fabric is not only flattering on any shape, it is also highly chlorine resistant and provides UV protection.
These suits highlight beauty, comfort, and functionality.
With multiple collections — from their barely-there bikinis, to ruffled one pieces and bandeaus — there are styles and cuts that can appeal to a wide range of personalities and body types. Bows and ruffles adorn many of their bathing suits. Bikini tops and bottoms with ties also lend themselves to a sexy look while also providing sizing flexibility to tie tighter or looser if needed. Align’s style is definitely more on the feminine side and shows that fashion and ethics can go hand-in-hand.
Search for some sexy sustainable suits here.
Launched in 2019, Kiao is a new label on the market out of Australia focused on “loving our home, and loving ourselves.” In addition to donating $1 from every bikini purchase to Take 3 to the Sea, they also donate 10% of their profits to Mission Australia in their pledge to engage with the wider community.
Their streamlined collection made of (yep, you guessed it) ECONYL® delivers a line with both classic and modern styles, and they have recently added an activewear line of comfy, oversized sweatshirts that are great for returning inside after a day in the sun.
As a new brand, Kiao is already branching out, selling fast, and rated highly. Kiao truly markets to a range of body types and offers classic suits that flatter all.
Bonus: 10% off with code ECODESK10
Check out their styles here.
Stay Wild Swim
Stay Wild Swim focuses on both quality and sustainability through a multi-pronged approach. First, they focus on durability and embrace slow fashion. In other words, you won’t be throwing their suits out after just one season of use and will produce less fabric waste. Like Align Swim, Stay Wild utilizes ECONYL® fabric to create a quality nylon made from recycled waste. When possible, they also up-cycle unused or leftover fabric from past lines for use in new styles. And, their London-based factories are small and local.
If that wasn’t enough, during the month of November, Stay Wild’s Circulatory Project will be accepting your old swimwear donations that can be recycled and repurposed into new eco-industrial products.
Stay Wild’s suits come in a handful of beautiful, natural colors with bold color blocking and modern cuts. Their line has a number of styles to choose from, including tops with a zip-up front and more coverage, flattering two-toned one-pieces, and supportive two-pieces.
See all they have to offer here.
Seeking to create everyday luxuries, Araks creates colourful but elegant pieces which are timeless and thoughtfully-made. Designed around core fabrics which are evergreen, excess materials can be worked into future collections. This ethos extends beyond their swim collection and into their beautiful clothing and lingerie styles.
Much of Araks’ collection features ECONYL® fabric and GOTS certified organic cotton. Their OEKO-TEX certified factories are run on solar power and conserve, recycle and clean excess water to reuse in production or return to the environment.
You can also find their care tips to learn to make your garments last longer and reduce your carbon footprint.
10% Off The First Order for New Customers with code ‘WELCOME’
Check out their collection here.
There you have it: the Best Ethical Swimwear
There are so many great eco swimwear brands on the market these days. No matter what you’re looking for in your next swimsuit, you can find it and more in one of these sustainable swimwear lines.
So if you are looking for a new swimsuit, why not make the choice to look good and do good!
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