By Serina Tatham
With the sun having returned and holidays being booked once again, swimwear is (thankfully) back in our shopping baskets. There have been so many innovations within the textiles industry, meaning that sustainability no longer has to compromise design. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy our round up of the most ethical and innovative fabrics for you to keep an eye out for.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to the oil industry. In the UK, the average life of a garment is about 2.2 years. As a result, an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year.
This throwaway culture means shops are having to constantly create new designs to satisfy demand. As a result they look to those third world countries like Bangladesh that can produce huge amounts of stock for very little, with the cheap price being more important than the workers’ rights.
But, there are things that you can do.
Firstly, with so much innovation in the fashion industry happening today, it is easier than ever to choose swimwear made with sustainable materials. To make it even simpler, marketplaces like PIKINI and Rêve En Vert are made up exclusively of sustainable swimwear brands and take the guessing game out of shopping.
It’s key to show brands that there is a demand for ethical clothes, which is why it is so important to buy from responsible designers.
To help you know what to look out for when shopping, keep reading to learn more about the best fabrics and to shop some of our favourite responsible brands that are championing sustainability and innovation without compromising on style.
There are two categories when it comes to sustainable swimwear: natural fibres and upcycled fibres. Hemp is the main champion here and is one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics on the market.
The plant itself takes only ¼ of the water it takes to grow cotton, yet produces 250% more fibre. Also, as its naturally resistant to pests you can rest assured that you won’t be wearing anything toxic nor will the product release any toxins into the water. Not only do the clothes not release chemical toxins, but items made out of hemp don’t shed any microplastics like the polyester alternative.
As swimwear, it is one of the strongest fabrics and will provide you with an excellent UV block – perfect for lazy days sunbathing.
While clothing and other items made from hemp fibre can be a little more expensive in some countries; no doubt pricing will decrease as more of the world again embraces industrial hemp cultivation and processing.
An amazing brand using hemp in all their swimwear is NATASHA TONIĆ. With the intention of changing women’s swimwear for the better, their pieces are made of a natural hemp fibre that is a much healthier choice for your skin and the oceans. Their classic yet modern silhouettes are timeless and will never go out of style.
Shop our favourite pieces from the brand below:
The second category, upcycled fibres, go one step further than being recycled. With the ability to be repurposed again and again, they are an amazing tool in the fight to make the fashion industry more circular.
ECONYL transforms nylon waste rescued from landfills and oceans to make amazing products. Despite being upcycled, the quality is exactly the same as brand new nylon and can continuously be recycled and remade.
Their circular process is as follows:
Amazing in the fight against climate change, ECONYL reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% compared with the material from oil. Our article about how you can be a mindful fashion lover is a great place to start your personal journey.
Ocin is one of our favourites and is doing ECONYL swimwear so well. Inspired by the ocean, their aim is to both celebrate and protect the water. Each purchase not only saves plastic bottles from going to landfill, but you also help support their non-profit partner Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.
REPREVE is made from 100% recycled plastic, mostly post-consumer plastic bottles. So far, they’ve managed to recycle more than 20 billion! Now a global force, REPREVE helps to preserve natural resources by requiring less petroleum, energy and water to produce. Best of all? Despite recycled, you aren’t compromising on quality.
Tide + Seek’s sustainable swimwear is entirely made of REPREVE. With a UV protection of factor 50 and seriously competitive quality, it’s hard to believe that the products are recycled plastic bottles. Offering a range of styles in unique prints, you can feel good whilst doing good.
Another great brand to mention is Loop Swim. Their ethos is to make fashion circular and close the loop on waste. Transforming plastic bottles into UPF50+ swimwear, they also now offer customers the opportunity to recycle old Loop swimsuits.
Normal polyester is the furthest thing from environmentally friendly. Using huge amounts of water, chemicals and fossil fuels, polyester production is toxic to the water, the air, and to our health.
Recycled polyester, on the other hand, is much better for the climate, creating 75% less co₂ emissions than virgin polyester.
By choosing the recycled alternative, you don’t lose any of the durability and strength of regular polyester, yet you seriously reduce its ecological impact. As it doesn’t need new petroleum to create, recycled polyester decreases the demand for fossil fuels, eventually reducing the fashion industry’s dependence on it.
Mara Hoffman is a well-established ethical brand championing innovation in the fashion industry. Including both recycled polyester and REPREVE fabrics in their swim collections, they strive to make sustainable materials feel better than the alternatives.
So, whether you go down the recycled route or choose something a little more natural, there are so many options available to help you make the most sustainable swimwear buys. Upgrading your swim wardrobe no longer means choosing between sustainability and style. So, by becoming a conscious consumer, your ethical choices can help shape the future of the fashion industry.
Without consumers using their wallets to let brands know that we want a sustainable future, the fashion industry has no incentive to change. Each purchase makes a huge difference and you can help contribute to better consumption, making the future of fashion a positive one.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming Instagram posts on @keiseimgz where the founder of PIKINI will be taking over our stories to talk about these innovative fabrics and showing off her favourite pieces.
Buy less but better