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.
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 7 years. Every item of swimwear is made using recycled nylon or recycled polyester, with the solid pieces cut from Econyl® and the textured styles made from Repreve, 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, including the hair accessories that are made with cut-off fabric leftover during production.
Founded in 2016, this sustainable swimwear line is inspired by founder Georgia Thompson’s love of the ocean, from the designs through to the production process. Every elegant swimsuit is cut from Econyl®, in a range of supremely sophisticated designs and colourways — a soft Papaya peachy orange, a subdued Avocado green and crisp white — and you can round out your beachwear with the brand’s range of dresses, skirts and cropped tops, all made from sustainably sourced materials such as linen and Lyocell Tencel™. If you do place a swimsuit order, be sure to hold onto the tag — it’s made from the seed paper which you can plant to grow your own fresh blooms.
When it comes to Oceanus swimwear, nothing goes to waste. Cut from Econyl®, the bold brand exclusively uses biodegradable embroidery and never includes animal derived materials. Plus, as part of their effort to be zero waste, the brand is committed to reusing all beading from damaged or defective items, and uses cut-offs from swimwear production and leftover stock from past collections to make face masks and smaller accessories. All of which means you can shop their statement swimwear — think geometric prints, sparkling bikini tops and retro embroidery — with a good eco conscience.
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.
Away That Day
Sustainable practices are at the heart of this UK-based swimwear brand, from the fabrics through to the packaging. Each style is ethically made by a small manufacturer in the heart of London (where workers are paid above minimum wage) using Econyl®, drastically lowering the carbon footprint of the production process. The silhouettes range from simple to sultry with a range of bikinis, one pieces and cover-ups cut in sumptuous tones and sexy prints. As an added bonus, Away That Day has also set up a recycling programme, where you can send them your old swimwear from any brand, and they’ll pass it on to their trusted recycling partner who’ll turn it into industrial materials that will be used in a plethora of different ways.
Monte & Lou
Originally launched in Australia in 2018, this sophisticated swimwear line from veteran swimwear designers Lynne Tramonte and Kay Howitt finally landed in the UK. The playful, eclectic collection features a variety of prints and styles, all of which carry a slight bohemian vibe. Inspired by their life by the ocean and surrounded by nature, the design duo have focused on sustainability by using fabrics made from recycled post-consumer material, with every fabric used meeting the strict OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. The colourful prints are all made with digital techniques, cutting out any damaging inks, and all packaging used across the supply chain is 100% compostable and biodegradable.
Tona’s founder, Tona Stell is a fashion stylist and a champion of inclusivity and sustainability, has created a range of chic swimwear which is always modelled a UK women’s size 16 and FF bra cup. Having worked in the fashion industry for over 8 years she has a unique understanding of the female form and from her own experience realised there was a lack of swimwear that looked modern, while having an exceptional fit for varying shapes and sizes. The designs are brilliantly on trend, from classic monochromatic sets to nostalgic, retro prints. All printed styles are made using Econyl®, while the plain sets are cut from Tona’s own bespoke organic cotton towelling fabric, which was specifically developed for the brand and cuts out any toxic chemicals. The fabrics are all shipped by boat to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and the final products are delivered to your door in organic cotton towelling bags and a recyclable box.
When it comes to summer dressing, Rixo is a brand that always jumps to the front of mind for its colourful, dopamine-inducing prints and nostalgic silhouettes. It’s no surprise, then, that the cult brand has expanded into swim. Rather than designing to passing trends, the brand has committed to creating timeless pieces that are inspired by vintage styles. The result is a range of bikinis and one-pieces that flatter every figure, cut from sustainable materials such as recycled polyester and hand-painted with characteristically joyful prints. Ardent Rixo fans will be especially pleased to hear that many of the swimsuit prints have matching items available to complete the outfit and take you from sunbathing to sunset drinks.
The celebrity-approved brand creates tempting styles that are built to last and offer the perfect fit — all while exclusively using sustainable materials and production processes. The brand’s latest release is perhaps their most exciting — the Biosculpt range is a line of smoothing, sculpting pieces that mould to the body for a second skin fit. The innovative styles are made from a sustainable, plant-based polyamide, cutting out wasteful materials and offering a fabrication that provides optimal support and a sexy finish.
This standout British brand is focused on creating swimwear that’s built to last, both in terms of style and function, eliminating the need to throw away and replace your swimsuit each season. Made from Econyl®, the strong fabrication sculpts and supports the body’s curves in a style that’s both athletic and sexy — think Baywatch in 2022. And for those who like to brave the cold waters of the English coast, Davy J has recently released a new line of neoprene-free watersuits, made using a thin, bonded recycled fabric which helps protect against the chill while removing the struggle of pulling on a wetsuit.