Though for several years, sustainable and ethical apparel labels have been taking the fashion world by storm, underwear and lingerie lines that are ethical and/or eco-friendly remained few and far between. Not anymore! Fortunately, designers are recognizing the importance of creating comfortable, beautiful underwear that is good for wearers, makers, and the environment alike.
What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Underwear:
Natural Fabrics: The brands below use natural, low-impact fabrics like organic cotton and TENCEL. These natural fibers don’t wreak as much havoc on the environment when they’re washed or thrown out at the end of their life. You’ll find that most underwear brands do contain a small amount of synthetic material like spandex, but as of right now, this seems to be a necessity in order to a) ensure garment longevity, and b) compete with non-eco brands in performance and comfort.
Environmentally-conscious manufacturing: The processes involved in creating textiles, especially high-performing ones, are often pretty harsh on the environment, using lots of water, chemicals, and energy, and leaving behind waste. Look for brands that are using more earth-friendly processes that reduce their impact.
Fair labor and transparency: As with everything you buy, check for fair labor practices. Look for brands that prioritize transparency and third-party certifications like Fair Trade and SA8000.
Comfort and confidence: Of course, your undies need to not only be comfortable, but also make you feel good in your body! Choose a brand and fit that will inspire confidence as you take on your day.
To help you find underwear you can feel good about wearing, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite sustainable and ethical underwear and lingerie labels:
For Feminine Basics:
A sustainable fashion pioneer, People Tree has been partnering with Fair Trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco fashion collections for over 25 years. Shop from a curated collection of ultra-comfortable bra tops, panties, and socks made from organic cotton (which means less chemicals on your skin’s most sensitive areas).
Skin creates intimates that are beautiful, yet meant for everyday wear. Their undies and bralettes are made out of super-soft organic pima cotton.
Founded in 2012, this Danish brand makes supremely comfortable yet subtly chic underthings. They focus on using high quality, organic fabrics in innovative ways that benefits both producer and consumer while minimizing environmental impact.
Knickey panties are made in Fair Trade certified factories out of certified GOTS organic cotton that’s free from toxins, carcinogens, and other harmful chemicals. Created by women for women, they have a subscription service, bundle packages, and a take-back and recycling program to properly dispose of your old pairs.
Hackwith Design House creates unique, timeless, and long-lasting lingerie by hand right in their Minnesota studio. They use eco-friendly fabrics like Lyocell and cotton, any of the pieces are made to order to reduce waste.
For Fancy Feminine Lingerie:
Reformation’s delicate lingerie is made mostly from recycled synthetics and eco-friendly TENCEL. You can find out about the amount of CO2, water, and waste that was saved during the manufacturing process of each item.
Founded in 1978, Only Hearts is a mainstay of New York’s sustainable fashion community. Owned and managed by a mother-daughter team, the label features a wide range of what its website calls “lifestyle lingerie,” including bras, bralettes, underwear, and loungewear. Most of their pieces are manufactured in the NYC Garment District. Since 2008, they’ve also offered a robust line of organic intimates using 100% organic Peruvian pima cotton, GOTS-approved pre-bleaches, and non-toxic dyes certified by the Ecological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers.
Uye Surana uses innovative methods for sustainable manufacturing. For example, different styles are designed cohesively and later cut harmoniously from the same fabric, rather than separately, to reduce waste, and the designer, Monica, uses natural materials such as flower petals, or unique hand-dyed techniques that preserve resources. All materials are sourced from both trusted overseas suppliers and a growing list of more local suppliers, and are assembled in Brooklyn or hand-sewn with care in the designer’s NYC studio.
Les Lunes lingerie is made transparently in their own Shanghai factory out of eco-conscious materials like bamboo and cotton.
For Ladies, Gents, & Non-Binary Folks:
PACT’s underwear, bras, undershirts, and socks are certified organic, Fair Trade, and affordable. They use low impact dyes and processes that decrease water use, too.
Organic Basics uses eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton and Tencel, as well as recycled wool and nylon. Everything is made transparently in certified factory partners around the world, where workers have safe working conditions and are paid a living wage and benefits. They also have an impact index, which measures the amount of waste, chemicals, energy, emissions, and water are utilized in their production process.
Complete with double-bonded seams and invisible elastic for a truly seamless look, Warp + Weft underwear is made mostly from sustainable and absorbent modal using processes that cut down on emissions and prioritize fair conditions for factory workers.
Everlane’s ReNew underwear collection for women is made from ECONYL, which is recycled nylon. Their men’s boxer briefs are made mostly from supima cotton. Everlane is committed to transparency, so you can see right where everything is made, right on the product page.
This brand mainly caters to men with a monthly shipment, but the women’s items look just as comfy and fun! The fabric is made in a carbon-neutral method that converts sustainably harvested beechwood pulp into MicroModal fibers. Then it’s woven in a GOTS certified facility, and sewn in Sri Lanka and Turkey under safe and fair conditions.
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia carries underwear for everyday wear and activewear. Their apparel is made with fully or partially recycled and natural materials and sewn together in fair trade factories.
Each pair of Thunderpants is made from fair trade certified New Zealand organic cotton yarn, which is grown without the use of any synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, AZO dyes, heavy metals, formaldehyde or chlorine. Thunderpant’s insanely comfortable fabric is dyed and milled in Melbourne, Australia and every pair is cut and sewn in a women-owned, minimal-waste factory in Hillsboro, Oregon. Thunderpants works with local artists from Portland, Oregon to make their unique, eye-catching prints and designs.
All Boody items – including the shaper bras and thongs – are 95% rayon made from ECOCERT organic bamboo (and 5% spandex for stretch), which is processed in a closed-loop, non-toxic system. So unlike regular bamboo rayon clothing, which requires intense chemical processing, Boodywear manufacturing doesn’t discharge toxic chemicals into the environment. And bamboo is a highly renewable resource – it quickly regenerates after being cut.
Proclaim is an LA-based lingerie brand offering bras made out of recycled plastic bottles founded on the principles that fashion should represent all women and can be made in a way that does good for people and the planet. Made of soft and supportive recycled polyester, each Proclaim bralette diverts plastic bottles from landfills and oceans.
Tomboyx size and gender-inclusive bras and underwear are made mostly of OEKO-TEX certified organic cotton in women-owned facilities that the team visits regularly in order to ensure they’re being treated fairly. They have a ton of different colors, designs, and styles, so there is something for everyone. They even have leakproof period underwear for lighter days and removable insert bras which accommodate inserts for post-mastectomy and transitioning.
WAMA Underwear for men and women is made from sustainable, GOTS Certified hemp and organic cotton. There are a lot of great things about hemp: it’s naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, odor-fighting, and super soft and breathable. And trust me: these undies are super comfortable! The WAMA team works transparently with certified factories in China and oversee production there in order to ensure ethical manufacturing is taking place.
For Period Panties:
Not all of Thinx leak-proof panties are made from natural materials, but we’re including them because wearing period panties is way more sustainable than all of the waste we can produce from tampons and pads (not to mention they can save you a ton of money too). Thinx offers a variety of styles, from classic, air (ultra-thin), activewear, and organic cotton. You can shop by flow too, from super to light.
Same deal with Knix: these aren’t necessarily eco-friendly in their materials, but they could save you a lot of waste in period products.
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