Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues affecting the planet today, with an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic reaching our oceans each year. There are myriad ways you can do your bit to help save our oceans, and a brilliant way to start is by changing up your buying habits. Here is our guide to the most covetable sustainable swimwear brands to know.
Synthetic oil-based fibres, such as nylon or Lycra, have long been the basic components of bikinis and one-piece swimsuits – not only does their production need a large amount of water and energy, they also don’t biodegrade. The result is that they end up adding to the amount of virgin plastic on the planet and contributing to the accumulation of microplastics clogging up our shorelines, poisoning marine life and infecting the food chain.
Thankfully, a number of swimwear designers are making the change to stem this tidal wave of damage, using recycled and sustainable materials, and pioneering manufacturing techniques. One popular solution lies in Econyl®, a regenerated nylon yarn made entirely from waste products, including the ‘ghost’ nets littering our oceans. Not only does this help remove deep-sea plastic waste, it also cuts down on the use of water, oil and energy used during the manufacturing process.
Elsewhere, natural fibres such as organic cotton and hemp prevent the release of microplastics into waterways, as do laundry bags that capture microfibres when washing. Laundry is a big factor in the sustainability of clothing, as the way you wash them affects the lifespan of each piece – swimwear should always be hand-washed with mild soap and cold water after every use, to preserve the fabric as long as possible and remove chlorine, salt and sand. Meanwhile, more durable designs and in-store reuse systems are helping fight the war on waste.
As swimwear takes its place in the fight against plastic pollution, we take a look at the innovative labels paving the way for a cleaner, greener future – while, in many cases, also giving back to charity – with their covetable, sustainable swimwear.
Known for her flattering, retro shapes and beloved by the fashion set, Hoffman is well and truly committed to reducing her environmental impact – and has been doing so for the last 15 years. While she uses Econyl® for her sustainable swimwear range, the designer has also started working Repreve into her textured pieces, a fibre made from upcycled plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in landfill or in our oceans.
Riviera chic forms the mainstay of the eponymous label founded by stylist and alumni of Vogue Paris, Talia Collins. The sustainable swimwear collection – think timeless silhouettes and colourways – is aimed at “women who care about their clothes, where they come from and their afterlife”. The range is made using Econyl®, and 1% of each sale goes to the Healthy Seas initiative to clear our waters of marine litter. Each piece can be personalised with custom monogram embroidery to make it extra special
Founded by former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski, US sustainable swimwear brand Jade Swim is a go-to for minimalist styles with built-in UV protection . All pieces are made from responsibly sourced organic, recycled and regenerated materials for a smooth, sleek fit, with many styles made from Econyl®. Designed to take you from the sea to the beach bar, the strong silhouettes and colour palettes echo the LA-cool of the brand’s production base, where leftover fabrics are always upcycled and purchases are packed in recyclable or biodegradable bags.
Since launching her brand in May 2019, founder Arielle Baril has been on a mission to create a sustainable swimwear line that brings out the confidence in every woman, without costing the planet. The zero-waste label offers a capsule collection of modern designs in crinkled fabric, with each piece made-to-order to ensure that nothing goes to waste and the small business only produces what is needed. Asymmetric one-pieces and Rio-inspired high cut styles can all be ordered to fit your measurements, guaranteeing the perfect fit every time.
Originally launched in 1984, British swimwear label Hunza G has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity under the creative direction of Georgiana Huddart, sported by stylish women in sunny spots across Instagram. The brand’s signature crinkle fabric is made and turned into swimwear all in the UK, keeping the production process small and local. They also use excess fabric to create small runs off headbands and scrunchies, and the colourful swimwear is delivered in biodegradable, recycled and recyclable poly bags. Even better, Hunza G donates a portion of its profits to charities like Street Smart.
This London-based brand was founded by Argentinean fashion photographer Josefina A. Theo and inspired by her childhood on the Uruguayan coast. After several years working with brands including Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion she decided to make a career pivot and launch her own luxury label – the result is her elegant, refined take on sustainable swimwear. The pieces are all ethically made in a female-only couture factory in Portugal using high-tech but ecological fabrics, including Econyl® and a renewable yarn made from castor beans. Expect minimalist one-pieces and mix-and-match bikinis in bold block colours and modern silhouettes.
Ayla’s playful, feminine designs instantly conjure up feel-good holiday vibes and memories of cocktails on the beach, which was exactly the aim when London-based founders Kirsty Ames and Heidi Sommerau started the label – the idea was dreamed up while they were on the beach in Tobago, and many of their collections are inspired by the Caribbean islands. Bikinis and one-pieces feature signature clashing colour frills and metallic thread detailing to contrast soft, tie-dye patterns. All of their sustainable swimwear range is created from recycled fibres, while their sarongs are made with Cupro, a by-product of cotton that would normally be thrown away.
Founded in October 2019 by Australian designer Patreece Botheras, this environmentally conscious collection has already had its fair share of celebrity fans, with Elle Macpherson, Karlie Kloss and Kendall Jenner all having been spotted in the sports-luxe pieces that flatter and sculpt the body. The high performance active wear for the water is aimed at surfers, swimmers, divers or sun loungers who can mix-and-match swimsuits and separates that are simultaneously light, warm, supple and stretchy. The entire range is crafted from Repreve and every purchase is sent out in 100% compostable, zero waste shipping bags.
Growing up on St Barths, Swedish designer Agnes Fischer has always had an affinity with the ocean. Horrified at the rapidly diminishing health of the planet’s coral reefs, she pledged to create a luxury sustainable swimwear brand handmade in Italy using only fibres from regenerated fishing nets and ocean waste. The collection, designed to be worn from the beach to the bar, comes in bold colours and retro-inspired prints. Plus, 10% of profits are donated to the Healthy Seas project – a team of volunteer divers who recover ghost nets from the sea, which then go on to be made into the fabric that Fisch uses.
Stay Wild Swim
London-based sports-luxe swimwear brand Stay Wild Swim was co-founded by Natalie Glaze and Zanna van Dijk, and frames its ‘buy less, buy better’ approach with thoughtfully cut, block-colour one and two-piece designs made from recycled nylon. Tags and packaging are fully recyclable, the label’s shipping is 100% carbon neutral and they’re currently working on the technology to recycle old swimwear into new pieces. The brand was also one of the first UK stockists for the GuppyFriend bag, designed to prevent microplastics entering the system during washes.
Family-run Australian swimwear label Peony takes its name from the blooming peonies in founder Becky Jack’s garden. With a nostalgic bohemian aesthetic, the capsule collection features Capri-inspired floral prints and soft colour palettes. Printed designs are made with Econyl®, while the lining of each piece is created entirely from recycled and sustainable fabrics, developed in-house, with all meeting Oeko Tex Standard 100.