Image by The Girlfriend Collective
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Great activewear makes you comfortable, confident, and excited to get moving. When looking for new clothing to hit the gym or trails in, it’s important to look for gear that will support you, keep you cool, and last for many workouts to come.
For all of these reasons, check out our criteria for choosing the best and most sustainable activewear:
Natural Fibers: Many activewear brands make leggings and sports bras with organic cotton, hemp, or natural-fiber dominant blends. These tend to be more breathable and less odor-retaining than synthetic blends, as well as better for your body and the environment.
Recycled Synthetics: Flexible and durable activewear often contains synthetics, which are great for performance, but not awesome for the environment. Fortunately, many sustainable brands use recycled synthetic blends and even custom bio-synthetic blends.
Performance & Durability: When spending money on quality workout wear, you need to know it’s going to hold up after many wears and washes. Intentional brands will often share details of their manufacturing process or design philosophy that can help you determine if they are built to last.
Non-toxic Dyes: Fun activewear often features bold colors and vivid patterns. However, the dyes used to attain this are often unsafe and are not properly disposed of. Look for brands that use natural and non-toxic dyes and hold certifications such as GOTS, bluesign, and OEKO-TEX to be sure your new workout wear is good for you as well as the communities it’s manufactured in. Also look for brands that use dope dyeing. This is a non-toxic alternative to dyeing polyester with disperse dyes, which can be skin-sensitizing.
Fair labor & Transparency: When shopping for your new activewear set, make sure the brand maintains safe and fair labor standards. Brands that their manufacturing locations and uphold a partner code of conduct are more likely to ensure fair wages and working conditions. Look for certifications such as SA8000 and Fair Trade.
This Fair Trade-certified brand designs breathable activewear with its signature Econyl yarn, made from regenerated fishing nets and other nylon waste. Its comfortable yet durable leggings stand up to any workout and are perfect for every active morning routine. It also has a secondhand platform where you can buy and sell pre-loved Outerknown clothing to reduce the environmental impact of your purchase. Its other associations include the Fair Labor Association, Textile Exchange, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
Asquith uses natural fabrics to make soft and breathable activewear that is durable and always in style. Its natural materials include bamboo viscose, Tencel, Oeko-Tex-certified cotton, and its original blend, Bambor. Its collection of colorful patterned workout clothing is made in a GOTS-certified and woman-owned factory in Turkey. Asquith uses plastic-free packaging with biodegradable mailers and garment bags. Having practiced and traveled in their leggings ourselves, we can attest they are very comfortable and flattering!
This women-founded brand uses Oeko-Tex-certified recycled plastics and wood-pulp modal to make healthy and comfortable activewear. Its apparel is made in China by a WCA-certified factory, while its tees and dresses are made in LA. All of its manufacturing partners abide by the brand’s code of conduct and are independently certified. Wolven Threads sends orders in recycled mailers and biodegradable paper boxes and has a pre-loved platform to buy and sell used items.
The Girlfriend Collective makes activewear from XXS to 6XL from various Oeko-Tex-certified recycled plastics. The details of each piece’s specific make up is available on its product page. It partners with eco-friendly recycling centers in Taiwan and SA8000-certified sewing partners in Vietnam. All its fabrics are dyed with Oeko-Tex-certified dyes that are safely disposed of. Its packing is completely recycled and recyclable. The brand has a program where you can send your used Girlfriend gear to be recycled for a discount on your next purchase.
Reprise Act is a plant-based brand that uses Tencel to make soft, long-lasting, and breathable activewear. All of its small-batch manufacturing takes place in the U.S, where it uses only GOTS-certified dyes on its leggings and sends orders in recycled and recyclable packaging. It’s currently looking to replace the 7% of spandex in its leggings with a plant-based alternative. The carbon-neutral brand also sells plant-based yoga mats and other workout accessories.
This family-owned company has worked directly with its factory partner in southern India for over twenty years. It provides healthcare, housing, food, and higher wages than the local average. Its custom fabric, BamCo, is designed to be comfortable, durable, and long-lasting. 75% of its apparel is made from natural-fiber dominant blends, including organic cotton and bamboo viscose. All of its products are shipped in biodegradable bags made from corn.
Tentree’s InMotion line is made of bluesign-certified recycled plastic. The collection includes a variety of activewear styles for men and women that are designed to be soft and long-lasting. Its manufacturing partners are routinely audited for compliance with the brand’s Code of Conduct, in addition to their individual certifications. Tentree’s packaging includes recycled and biodegradable mailers, roll packaging, and recycled hang tags.
This Fair Trade and carbon-neutral brand makes organic cotton leggings for all-day comfort. Its collection of GOTS-certified active apparel includes several colors and styles (some with pockets!) and are made in safe and fair environments in India. The brand uses recycled and recyclable packaging for all of its orders.
Urbankissed is an online marketplace that hosts carefully vetted sustainable and ethical brands. Its selection of activewear includes leggings, loose pants, sports bras, cycling shorts, and more. Urbankissed uses its slow & ethical index to show how each specific product is sustainable (such as made with natural fibers or up to environmental standards) which you can apply to your search.
Yoga Democracy makes high-quality active wear from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets. It uses a waterless dyeing process and upcycles all of its extra materials. Its selection of yoga wear includes dozens of solids and unique patterns. All of its products are made in the U.S. by a small team of manufacturers.
This online marketplace focuses on conscious production and design. When choosing designers to host, it makes sure their factories are socially and environmentally responsible, and only use natural fibers and organic or recycled materials. You can shop by brand, products, or its carefully curated collections.
This Danish luxury brand designs minimalist looks handcrafted by artisans. Its certifications include bluesign, GOTS, and Oeko-Tex. Its fabrics include recycled, natural, and bio-based materials, and it sends its deadstock fabric to a re-spinning mill in Java, Indonesia. Its supplier code of conduct, as well as detailed lists of manufacturers, are available on its website. The brand works with a family business in Bali that specialize in natural plant dying techniques.
Australian fitness brand runs every stage of the manufacturing process on one campus to ensure fair labor and transparency in its supply chain. It uses REACH-compliant and Oeko-Tex-certified materials including organic cotton, bamboo, and recycled polyester in its extensive collection of activewear. It selects its fabric manufacturers based on quality, longevity, ethical, and environmental standards, and uses compostable mailers and tags.
This climate-neutral brand creates durable and high-performance activewear with traceable and REACH-compliant dyes and materials including Tencel, natural rubber, organic cotton, and compostable stretch blend ROICA V500. All of its suppliers, which are located in Europe and Portugal, meet or exceed international labor organization standards.