Image credit: Remnant
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Here’s the thing you should know about shopping for sustainable bathing suits….
No, you can’t get ones made without petrochemical-based synthetics. I’m sorry. There are a few brands listed below that are mostly natural materials like hemp and modal. But they still contain some synthetic fibers to provide stretch.
I know you’ve seen some crocheted bikinis made with cotton, but unfortunately, once that crochet cotton gets wet, it stretches out. Believe me. I had one, and when I complained to the brand, their answer was that it’s not supposed to get wet. Oh! OK. It’s just decorative, then?
So, many conscious bathing suit brands have turned to synthetic textiles made from recycled plastics. By far the most popular fabric is ECONYL, a high-quality, Italian fiber made from upcycled nylon fishing nets, textile waste, and old carpets. Others are made with polyester from recycled PET plastic bottles.
You also want to look at where the textile is printed (in Europe or the United States is best), where the bathing suit is sewn (in a certified fair factory is ideal), and what kind of packaging the company uses, like polybags made of compostable or recycled materials. Some brands also have OEKO-TEX certification, which means the bathing suit has been tested and certified free of toxins.
Lucky for you, there are more brands popping up all the time that use recycled textiles and other sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices. So there’s no need to compromise on your style.
Remnant is an L.A.-based high-quality, sustainable swimwear brand that creates designs out of upcycled nylon. Its rescued nylon comes from ghost fishing nets, ocean-bound plastic, and textile remnants that go through a complex regeneration process to become a soft, sustainable fabric. Remnant’s bikinis are manufactured in Bali. Its seamstresses are paid double the minimum wage, receive free health insurance for themselves and their families and free meals at work. Remnant’s products and shipping bags are biodegradable and home compostable certified. All dyes used in the production of the fabric and packaging are toxin-free and are environmentally friendly. Instead of being petroleum-based, these dyes are water or soy-based and do not emit harmful gases when they break down.
Designed and made in New York City, REVVV SWIM is a sustainable active swimwear brand created by fashion industry veteran Cristina Aguayo. A swimmer since childhood and a lover of the outdoors, Aguayo’s idea emerged from seeking a go-to sustainable, fashionable, and athletic swimsuit she couldn’t find. REVVV SWIM blends style and athleticism to create a versatile one-piece suit that suits the beach and the city. Its one-piece suit is timeless, classic, and made from 100% recycled nylon.
Launched in 2015, Bower is an ethical and sustainable swim & resort wear brand. Since 2019, 1% of Bower’s orders are donated to the Healthy Seas initiative, aiming to remove waste from the seas. The brand chooses to produce in Europe to regularly visit and guarantee that all employees are paid under EU guidelines and are provided with safe working conditions. All of its swim fabric is produced using ECONYL yarn. Its shipping boxes are made from 70% recycled fibers and are 100% recyclable. Its tissue paper is certified by the Eco Packaging Alliance, meaning its supplier plants trees to contribute to global reforestation in areas of need.
Wolven swimwear and athleisure is made from OEKO-TEX-certified, recycled PET plastic bottles and carbon-neutral modal fabric. It also partners with NativeEnergy to carbon offset their operations footprint and choose more eco-conscious packaging to ship products to their customers. Its Chinese manufacturing partner is certified by WCA for labor, wages, work hours, health, safety, and environmental practices.
Ansea is a brand specializing in eco-friendly apparel for women who love the sea. Its collection includes wetsuits, swimsuits, and premium loungewear, all from sustainable materials. The wetsuits are made of a plant-based alternative to Neoprene called Yulex, which produces 80% less CO2 during manufacturing. Meanwhile, the swimsuits are made from ECONYL, a regenerated nylon made from industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from the oceans. The brand produces its collections in New York City, abiding by strict labor regulations and water-conscious practices.
Known for its inclusive and sustainable activewear, Girlfriend Collective makes swimwear out of ECONYL, a regenerated nylon, and elastane. Its packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. Its core factory is in Hanoi, Vietnam, and it’s SA8000 certified, guaranteeing fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor
For the Dreamers swimwear is made mostly out of ECONYL, which is regenerated nylon is made from pre and post-consumer waste such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from mills, old carpets destined for landfills, and other nylon waste. In order to decrease their environmental impact, it works with a carbon-neutral shipping company and uses more environmentally friendly printing machines for labels, recycled wrapping, and compostable shipping bags. Plus, 5% of every purchase is donated to an organization that provides clean water to those without access to it.
For 2020, Lively created its first-ever eco-conscious swimwear line, with suits made primarily out of recycled polyester. The styles are timeless and meant to be mix and matched, and sizes go up to XXL/DDD.
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia’s swimwear is made from a soft and durable 83% recycled polyester/ 17% spandex blend, and all the sewing is done in Fair Trade certified factories.
Made in California, many of Vitamin A’s super sexy swimsuits are made with EcoLux™ fabric, a blend of Repreve® RECYCLED nylon fiber, and LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ fiber for a subtle sheen and gorgeous, long-lasting fit.
Noize creates inclusive swimwear using Italian Econyl. The brand’s styles are designed for every body type, with the option for more or less coverage. Customers can choose designs from size XS-XL and a plus-size collection that goes up to 3X.
Made in the U.S. of Italian recycled polyester/spandex fabric, these bathing suits have SPF50 built into their colorful, patterned fabrics.
OOKIOH makes “modern swimwear with a splash of nostalgia.” The materials are sourced from an Italian mill and are 100% regenerated (meaning they come from the ocean and post-consumer waste). The brand is currently working toward its goal of completely eliminating virgin plastic from its entire system in the next two years.
MIGA’s one and two-piece bathing suits are inspired by the disability, chronic illness, and disfigurement community (but meant to be worn by all!). During the design process, the MIGA team consults with community members to craft its vibrant swimwear with ease in mind. Its Italian-made fabric is woven from regenerated polyamide yarn, resistant to chlorine, and is SPF50. MIGA uses 100% recycled packaging.
Vivida’s swimwear is transparently made using mostly post-consumer recycled waste (along with some spandex) and shipped in biodegradable bags. Its name is derived from ‘Viva la Vida’, which “serves as a daily reminder to be grateful for this precious, beautiful life.”
Carolina K is a Latin American lifestyle brand created by Argentinian designer, Carolina Kleinman. Known for unique prints and inspired by a desire to preserve the artisanal traditions of indigenous peoples, her pieces are handmade by artisans in remote areas of Mexico, Peru, and India. Carolina K bathing suits are made from ECONYL, which is 100% recycled nylon.
Jade Swim is a sustainable swimwear line using both deadstock fibers and Econyl, regenerated nylon from plastic waste such as fishnets taken out of the ocean and remade into new nylon fabric. Inspired by New York City and made in Los Angeles, the brand combines both minimal and sensual aesthetics that can easily transition into ready-to-wear
Hunza G’s crinkle seersucker nylon and elastane fabric is knitted in a local mill in the Midlands, UK, where it’s dyed, processed, and dried before it’s sent to the brand’s Central London studio where each garment is cut and made—limiting any possible unnecessary fabric consumption.
Medina Swimwear’s luxury designs are made from ECONYL and can be used repeatedly without losing their integrity. Its pieces are also UV-proof, sun cream, oil, and chlorine resistant. Medina Swimwear donates a percentage of each collection’s sales to nonprofit organizations committed to protecting the oceans.
Casa Raki’s designs are South American inspired, designed in London, and made ethically in Portugal. The brand only uses sustainable materials and processes while focusing on improving and extending garment life. Its pieces are made from ECONYL, a regenerated nylon made from industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from the oceans.
Ayla Swim uses ECONYL to create its versatile designs. It works with two small boutique factories in Bali that allow the brand to be flexible with its order sizes to avoid wasting stock.
Launched in 2017, FISCH was one of the first brands to use ECONYL. The brand was inspired by the Creative Director’s childhood spent on Saint Barthélemy snorkeling and exploring the island’s wildlife. Each piece is handmade in Italy from fabric woven in Lombardy to ensure the highest quality possible while helping to minimize its carbon footprint.
Founded in 2017, Galamaar is a timeless swimwear brand for the contemporary woman. Made from environmentally sound fabrics, such as ECONYL, and produced in Los Angeles, CA.
Established in 2012, Arrow + Phoenix is a 90’s influenced sustainable swimwear line based in Los Angeles. It focuses on diversity and size inclusivity with bra cups ranging from A-H. The brand’s designs are made out of ECONYL, an Italian eco-luxe fiber made from regenerated nylon.
Natasha Tonic’s swimwear is made out of a natural, eco-friendly hemp fabric that is anti-microbial, UV resistant, durable, and better for your skin and the planet. Its suits also can do double duty as lingerie, bodysuits, or activewear. They are designed, dyed, and sewn locally in Los Angeles, California.