Guilt-free undies, do they exist? Are they hideous? Are they expensive? Yes, no and it depends, in that order. Underwear is one of the things I don’t buy second hand. It’s not that I’d have an issue buying a lightly worn bra, it’s more that they’re just not available. Therefore I am always interested in sustainable ethical underwear brands.
As always the definition of ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ is open to interpretation and I find my own definition changes are my knowledge and the market matures. Just remember, sometimes all we can do it make the least bad choice.
I’ve compiled a separate article on the sustainability / ethics of fabric types, which you can use to decide for yourself on your priorities on buying these most intimate garments.
When you’re ready to shop here are some companies that caught my eye in my search for sustainable, ethical, Europe-based underwear brands.
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Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands Sold in Ireland
Bon and Berg is an Austrian company with an Irish office that makes underwear from the close-loop fabrics Lenzing Modal or Tencel, in factories in Turkey which are audited by SMETA. They are also members of 1% for the planet. Their products are wrapped in compostable tissue paper and sent out in a compostable mailer bag, and their labels and stickers are also made from 100% compostable materials.
Patagonia is a high-street that makes thermal and normal underwear from recycled nylon printed with PVC- and phthalate-free inks. On their website they give details on how they work with factories and mills to ensure ethical work-practices, good working conditions and processes that are less harmful to the environment. They say they are particularly invested in protecting migrant workings and guarding against child labour and human trafficking. The company also gives 1% of their sales to support environmental organizations around the world. There is tons of information on the Patagonia website about the ethical and sustainable way they do business. I found the Environmental Assessment of Materials in Clothing particularly interesting. It talks about the reality behind some fabrics that are being sold as green.
Boody is an American brand of bamboo underwear that includes light-support bras, briefs, socks and leggings all made from rayon derived from bamboo. I’m not a huge fan of rayon clothing because the process of converting bamboo to fabric is generally very environmentally damaging but Boody use a close-looped system to make their bamboo fabric meaning that no chemicals or water leaves the system. They also use plant dyes and a computer based knitting system that produces no waste. The bamboo that they use is the only certified organic bamboo that I’ve come across on the market. Their bamboo is grown by the Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Company on FSC certified plantations, in accordance with the international organic standard of OCIA / IFOAMand the USDA National Organic Program. The raw bamboo and the bamboo yarn are also certified as organically grown by Ecocert. The final fabric is certified as being organic by The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) and has been tested for toxic chemicals by the private company SGS. The company says that it’s factories reach the gold standard for employee conditions as set out by the independent organisation WRAP, but it’s unclear as to whether this means they’ve been independently assessed as being so. Similarly Boody’s website does state that the production in their factories complies with ISO 14001 Regulations but doesn’t say if they’ve been accredited with the standard. All Boody products are PETA-Approved certified, meaning no animal products are used in the production of our garments (making them 100% vegan). Some, but not all, of their products are OEKO-TEX certified. They are the first underwear brand in Australia and New Zealand to wear the B Corp badge. You an buy their goods directly from the company or from UK based e-tailer U Organic or the Dublin based store Hopsack in D6.
Sloggi underwear is made from a blend of cotton, lycra, polyester or spandex and are made in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100. They are now Global Organic textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certified in Europe, meaning they track how much organic and recycled materials are in their products.
There are also a few Irish-based makers of made-to-order underwear including;
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Germany
Nu-in make fashion-forward garments from recycled materials and organic cotton in factories in Portugal, Turkey and China. They say they limit their carbon emissions as much as possible and offset what they can’t. Their website gives detailed information on the materials and factories they use and each garment has a QR code that will tell you where it was made. Also some of the factories the use have water and fabric saving technology. Their boxes are a blend of recycled and virgin paper form FSC certified sources and their mailers are certified compostable plastic.
Aikyou make vegan lingerie from elastane and Fairtrade certified cotton to Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 for, as they put it, the small busted woman. They do they their cotton is organic but show now organic certification or it. There products and packaging are free of animal products, they use green electricity, and their shipping is taken care of by DHL GoGreen using second hand cardboard boxing and recyclable packaging. They also state that all their office and logistics processes are designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and that they support Naturefund’s reforestation and climate protection projects through the Blue Planet Certificate scheme.
Living Crafts offer reasonably priced organic cotton underwear with many items having GOTS certification. The company are also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF).
Anekdot make stunning underwear from surplus fabrics and Econyl, a 100% post-consumer waste polyamide yarn. Their elastic trimmings are high quality leftovers from big runs, originally made for UK brands in the 80s. Hooks & eyes, rings and slides are ‘Made in Germany’ and locally sourced and their garments are ethically made either in Berlin or Poland by a small team of artisan sewers.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Holland
A-dam offers underwear for men and women made from plain and printed certified organic cotton (95%) and elastane. They also make socks from organic cotton, elastane and Econyl (salvaged marine plastic waste), and t-shirts, sweatshirts and pj bottoms from organic cotton.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in France
Base Range makes clothing including underwear and swimwear from organic and recycled fibres. Looking at their range of bras I’d say they’re best suited to someone who doesn’t need a lot of support. No evidence of independent certification was visible on their website.
I am quite taken with the garments by French brand Do You Green (see top image). This company offers bras, knickers, lounge and yoga wear made from fabric derived from organic pinewood fibres from sustainable forests, which the company says absorbs perspiration twice as much as cotton and is softer than any other cloth. which the company says absorbs perspiration twice as much as cotton and is softer than any other cloth. All of their dying and fabric manufacturing is done in France, to the Oekotex standard. Their packaging is plastic free. The company uses the term organic pinewood fibres but doesn’t give any details on the process involved in converting them to fibre. I emailed them to ask if it is fact Rayon, a very popular cellulose based fibre, but I never received a reply.
Peau Ethique make lingerie from silk and GOTS certified organic cotton in a factory in India that is SA8000 standard for fair working conditions. Their garments also comply with REACH regulations and are free of formaldehyde, azo dyes and aromatic solvents. UK based By Nature is is a stockist of theirs along with Do you Green (see above) and German company Living Crafts (see above).
Occidente make lingerie from organic fabrics in a French village in Provence.
Olly makes bras and knickers from GOTS certified organic fabrics, dyed with non-noxious dyes certified Oeko-Tex 100. They also use lace and tulle made in France and Europe. They state that they aim to limit the carbon footprints of their delivery and use recycled packaging.
Le Slip Francais make clothing, underwear and swimwear for women and men exclusively in France.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Denmark
Organic Basics in Copenhagen are a B-corp that uses organic cotton, recycled nylon, post-consumer recycled wool and cashmere, and OEKO-TEX® certified Lyocell sourced from European forests. The company self-certifies their organic cotton. Also they state that their factories are audited annually by a third party to ensure employees are treated fairly but don’t say by who. That said they do list the certificates each factory holds on their website. Package wise the company use a poly mailer made from 100% recycled plastic. They say it’s 100% recyclable but that would depend on local recycling policies but it has a dual adhesive strip so can be used a second time.
Underprotection is a B-corp that makes their Peta certified vegan underwear from TENCEL™ Lyocell, textile made from banana leaves, textile made from milk , GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled wool and chlorine-free, mulesing-free wool. A large part of their products are OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified and all of their synthetic materials are certified as being recycled (GRS). They use factories certified by WRAP, Sedex, BSCI and use rail and sea for shipping as much a possible. They package their clothes in biodegradable or recycled plastic polybags, which ever comes from the supplier and posted in recycled plastic mail bags. Their cardboard packaging is recycled or FSC certified. They are now offering a repair service, and a take-back service for end-of-life garments. They plant 150 trees per month via Treeapp, donate to a marine plastic removal charity and sell upcycled items from a social enterprise that supports vulnerable women.
Woron is vegan, cruelty free and a slow fashion underwear brand. They use plant-based fabrics such as Lenzig Modal, organic cotton and recycled nylon salvaged from marine waste. They work with GOTScertified factories in Hungary, Greece, Turkey and Italy. Online orders are packed in boxes made of recycled paper. And when buying an underwear set you you will find our signature wash bag enclosed in the box. Furthermore, the additional wrapping paper, postcard and stickers are also made of recycled paper.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Spain
Ceu Label use artisans local to Barcelona to make underwear from organic fabric, dyed with plants
Coleico make innovative, striking underwear from deadstock, certified organic close-loop bamboo and certified recycled fibres. They make-to-order, use local suppliers and manufacturers to limit transport emissions and offset delivery emissions. And although their packaging is plastic-free they air freight customer deliveries, which is one of the most energy intensive forms of transportation.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Sweden
Swedish Eco products are made from the GOTS and Oeko-tex 100 Standard certified organic cotton grown in Turkey. Apologies for the risque image, it’s the only one I could find!
The White Briefs make some briefs and vests from organic cotton.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Lithuania
About make from close-loop fabrics like Tencel or Modal, organic cotton and a cashmere-like fabric made from soy waste. Their factory is based in European, runs on renewable energy and complies with Greenpeace’s standard for use of natural fibres. They claim their water treatment system is so good that the water is drinkable at the end. They use locally-made, home compostable packaging, reusable storage boxes made from recyclable card and fabric bags made from leftover yarn.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Malaysia
Underwear Concept is an online underwear retailer that offers organic cotton and organic bamboo knickers from Nukleus at very reasonable prices. Maylasian based Nukleus make underwear and basics from eco-friendly materials such as GOTS certified organic cotton, Lenzing Tencel and bamboo and all Nukleus core components are certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100. The boxes used by Nukleus are made from FSC-certified paper and printed with vegetable-based ink and have a fully recyclable PETE 1 plastic for its box ‘window’.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Australia
Mighty Good Undies is an Australian brand of underwear that make underpants and tank tops from certified organic Fairtrade cotton in factories that carry the SA 8000 social accountability standard certification.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in New Zealand / UK
Thunderpants UK is a subsidery of Thunderpants New Zeland. Their undies are made from certified organic cotton, processed to strict SKAL standards (International Standards for Sustainable Textile Production), knitted into fabric in New Zealand, either printed in New Zealand or Australia with organic inks and dyes and finally sown in New Zealand.
Pantee make underwear from unsold (deadstock) t-shirts, made in a factory in Bangledesh, which is said to pay above the average wage and give bonuses to staff. Their products are shipped in a small, recyclable cardboard box, printed using water based ink and lined with biodegradable tissue paper. Their swing tags are made from recyclable and recycled paper, attached using string and a tiny safety pin – making it 100% plastic free!
Ceil Lingerie make select pieces of lingerie from certified organic cotton or alpaca, certified man-made sustainable fibres such as Lyocel and hemp. They use 100% Azo free dyes, work with local manufacturers in the UK and local development groups in India in accordance with the rules set out in www.labourbehindthelabel.com. The company also operates a Carbon Neutral offsetting programme with www.staro.org and their designer Sarah Ratty is an advisor to the Soil Association Textile Advisory Committee and works as an Eco-design consultant.
Cotton and Push handmake their garments in the UK from organic cotton grown in Kerala, India and close-looped bamboo, i.e. no chemicals escape the process. They even go so far as to use 100% GOTS Certified organic cotton wadding, or batting for their lining.
Green Fibres sell underwear, nightwear and leisure wear for men, women and children, in organic cotton, organic wool, silk and hemp. They also have organic cotton tights (pantyhose) and organic cotton, wool and silk tights. Organizations that supply Greenfibres must comply with the Code of Conduct as contained in the Global Organic Textile Standards, and the company make every effort to use local and small-scale labour as much as possible. Furthermore they are against increasing disparities of incomes and undertake to never have the highest earner in the company making more than 5 times the wage of the lowest earner. They also use banks and phone companies that are ethical, renewal electricity companies and use a high post-consumer content recycled paper in all their stationary and catalogues. They also participate in the following forums: the Soil Association, the Fair Trade Foundation, Pesticide Action Network UK, Environmental Justice Foundation, Global Organic Textiles Standards, Labour Behind the Label, and the Organic Trade Board.
Finisterre is offers merino wool and organic cotton underwear. The wool is sourced from a small UK farmer and is processed in England and Scotland.
AmaElla make knickers and non-wired bras from GOTS certified organic cotton and elastane in Portugal. All fabric, elastics and trimmings are OEKO-TEX certified.
hought (formerly Braintree) sells knickers, vests, tights and nightwear made from either bamboo or organic cotton. This company aims to ensure that their fabrics and how our garments are designed, made and delivered is carefully considered and done so ethically, with the greater aim of minimising their environmental footprint. The dyes they use are free from Azo (which they say is a harmful carcinogen) and they claim that their finishes are as environmentally friendly as possible. Each piece of their collection is made in the same country so never needs to be shipped from place to place and when it is time to transport them they claim to choose a slow option with great consideration for the environment. They’re also a founding member of the Ethical Fashion Forum.
Floripawear make underwear in small batches in their London studio from compostable Lenzig Modal fabric made in the UK from Beechwood pulp from sustainable forests in central Europe.
Molke use organic cotton to make body-positive underwear in Scone, Perthshire in Scotland. They also say that they collect every scrap of spare fabric from the cutting room floor and donate them to local schools, craft groups and Remake Scotland, who reuse them in various ways, so leaving nothing to waste.
You Underwear make underwear from certified organic & fairtrade cotton in India. They also donate one pair of pants to the charity Smalls for All for every pair bought.
Sloanie make underwear from OEKO-TEX® certified (toxin-free) biodegradable TENCEL™ Modal. For more information on this fibre check out my article on sustainable ethical fibres and fabrics. Their garments are cut, sewn and finished in factories audited by the Fair Wear Foundation, and they use 100% recycled mailing bags and recycled boxes printed with eco inks.
Luva Huva make ethical lingerie and loungewear in the UK from deadstock, vintage and end-of-line fabrics and trims, including Bamboo, Hemp, Organic Cotton, Soy, Tencel.
Kerala Crafts is a Bath based charity in October 2010 making fairtrade knickers from cotton, organic cotton and bamboo. All profits from Kerala Crafts sales are ploughed back to India to help provide financial support for the charities in India that support women.
Lara Intimates is a London based design studio that makes underwear from deadstock luxury lingerie fabrics. All their elastics, strapping, under bands and bindings are made and dyed by a British manufacturer. They aim to cut patterns so as to minimise waste fabric and anything that is wasted, is saved to be shredded and used as stuffing in a new garment. Because the company founders couldn’t find a sustainable lingerie factory and so every Lara garment is made in-house, in their Soho studio, London.
Fruity Booty make underwear mostly from deadstock fabric in factories in London and Portugal. Their products are wrapped up in tissue paper, tied using recycled hemp string and sealed in a recyclable brown envelope. They have also implemented a zero single-use plastic policy, meaning all our pieces we we receive from our manufacturer are loose.
Based in London Ayten Gasson makes her lingerie in the UK using UK made lace. She also makes a few pieces of swimwear.
Welsh company Howies offers women’s knickers and leggings made from modal and men’s briefs made from merino.
Billi London have introduced biodegradable tights to the market! Their tights are designed to degrade into organic matter and biogas in landfill over a 5 year period. They do suggest recycling their tights through textile recyclers if you can, but that if they do go to landfill they’ll be less harmful than standard tights. I’m really impressed with how this company has really thought about making something less harmful within current infrastructure, and that they invested in testing to prove their performance. That said with less and less landfill sites licenced to take household waste in Ireland it’s most likely that tights you’d put in a black bin in Ireland will go to incineration.
Swedish Stockings produce tights (pantyhose for my American friends) from the by-product of other nylon products. They say that their factories engage in sustainable practises including the use of environmentally friendly dyes, post-dyeing water treatment and, use solar power for much of the energy needed and is zero waste. They also offer a recycling program for all brands of stockings. Unfortunately the technology to separate the polyamide from nylon doesn’t yet exist so the old tights are ground down into fibre glass tanks for oil traps for the commercial industry.
Heist Studios offer fishnet tights made from 86% sustainable pre-consumer recycled waste – 85% (Nova® by Fulgar) and 15% Elastane (3% Elastane Eco Smart). They also have recycled opaque tights made in Italy from 75% recycled polymide (Q- Nova® by Fulgar) and 25% recycled elastane.
If you’re looking for a funkier style of tight check out the colourful patterned tights by Irish company Slugs and Snails. They make their adult tights with blended cotton that’s certified as having no harmful chemicals in it.
French company Peau Ethique have tights made from 76% organic cotton 21% recycled polyamide and 1% elastane.
E-tailers selling Sustainable Ethical Underwear
- Amnesty International sell briefs, tights and socks by brands like Thought and Chetna Organic.
- The Hemp Shop offer knickers made from organic hemp, organic cotton and spandex and a cami and shorts set made from 100% organic hemp.
- Pure Natural are on online department store offering organic cotton knickers, vests, t-shirts, long pants and pyjamas from the German brand Living Crafts (see above).
- Fab Organics is an online department store that offers underwear made from bamboo and organic cotton from German brand Living Crafts (see above) and American brand Blue Canoe
- Bamboo Bamboo Clothing is a UK-based company offering knickers and socks made from bamboo. The company say that they are committed to everyone being treated fairly and responsibly, from garment maker to customer but there they don’t appear to have any independent accreditation or certification.
- Hejhog sell knickers, bras, vests, t-shirts, long pants, nightwear and sportswear in organic cotton, organic wool or organic silk.
- Cambridge baby sell women’s knickers, nightwear, vests, tights and long pants in organic cotton, wool and silk.
- The Natural Store is an online department store selling women’s knickers in bamboo, fairtrade cotton and organic cotton including the brand Kerala crafts.
- La Redoute is a UK based e-tailer with a few of organic cotton bras, one with underwire. Just search for organic cotton and click on the women category on the left and you’ll see them.
- Reve En Vert in the UK sell underwear from a range of sustainable ethical makers.
- Urban Kissed is a Swiss e-tailer selling sustainable brands of clothing, jewellery, accessories, and undrwear. To help you find items that fit your own values, you can filter results by up to 15 sets of criteria, such as whether they’re made with natural materials or vegan. The company plant a tree for every new newsletter subscriber and offers carbon neutral delivery.
- The Ethical Superstore and The Natural Collection are online retailers selling underwear and nightwear from Thought. These two websites seem to be run by the same company and I often find that you can pick up items cheaper here than on the home company’s website.
- You could also do a search for organic cotton, bamboo or ethical underwear on Etsy, Ebay or Amazon.
Check out my other listing of Sustainable Ethical Clothing & Accessory Brands
Written by Elaine, Reviewed by Nicola
25 thoughts on “40+ Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands in Europe 2022*”
Wow, impressive research there, I might be able to translate some of the French for you but I will be away for the next week.
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Thanks a mill. That’d be great. Just really want to know more about their ethics.
So comprehensive! Well done Elaine, bet that took some work putting it together.
On 31 Mar 2017 08:43, “living lightly in ireland” wrote:
elainebutler posted: ” So guilt-free undies, do they exist? Are they hideous? Are they expensive? Well firstly i’m happy to report that they do exist and they’re not at all hideous (well most of them) and you seem to be able to get them for the same price as an average “
Thanks Jill. It certainly did but it was something I was interested in for myself anyway so happy work all in all.
Great post and thanks for sharing! I’m currently trying to find an ethical bra – underwear seems easy, but bras not so much! I’d like to add, Mighty Good Undie and Etiko are too brands that sell organic Fair Trade cotton undies. Both are Australian and I’m not sure if they sell worldwide, but I suspect that they do or at least that they intend to 🙂
Thanks for those brand suggestions.I agree on finding ethical bras, especially underwire. They either cost a lot or are designed for model-like figures! Neither of which I have! Best of luck in your search.
Wonderful research! Well don 🙂 I wonder if Sloggi is really up to the other brands here though. They make no mention of their ethics on their website besides saying they are OEKO-TEX certified – which they don’t exactly shout about… I don’t feel very confident that they are making much of an effort to tread lightly in the fashion industry. It’s a shame. Because I quite like the look of their bras! Seems to be hard to find an ethical one that looks nice and will fit a D cup!
Thanks. I do like a good bit of research 🙂 I hear what you’re saying about Sloggi’s ethics but I suppose it comes down to a person’s preference s. I don’t tend to rank companies, just list the info and let the reader pick what suits them best. Totally hear you on the bra thing, I’m still looking. For the mo I’ve opted for inexpensive long-lasting cotton ones from a chain store and I use the money I save to invest in other sustainable products I need.
That is a good way of looking at things if you can’t find a sustainable option that suits you 🙂 it’s so baffling. I wish some serious laws would be passed to control the horrible fashion industry but I guess it just makes too much money!
I suppose governments feel that if people cared enough they’d buy sustainable but I think most people would do it if it was easier, and within their budget.
Thank you so much for doing all the hard work for us on ethical underwear. Absolutely brilliant post! Have bookmarked and shared link in plastic free groups on fb.
You’re more than welcome. Delighted to do so if it helps people live more sustainably. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂
Thanks so much for ti. I wanted to start getting better underwear and didn’t know where to start! Have you come across a Barcelona brand called twothirds? Apparently it’s almost all cotton and recycled fabric, made in Europe, and cute bras… But i wonder if there is more to it (I found it through Instagram and I don’t trust Instagram ads!) If you have any thoughts and would like to share please do! Thanks!
Glad to be of help. I have heard of Two Thirds and I mention them in my article of clothing brands. I didn’t realise they did underwear too now. Will add them into this one too. Check out the other article for info on them. It should help you decide if they fit your values.
Thanks Elaine! The hardest barrier when transitioning to more sustainable living is that you need to research for every new thing you need. It can get overwhelming! Your work is a huge help. Keep it up x
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This article was tremendously helpful to me as we recently moved to Portugal from the U.S. and I’ve been hunting for a new source of sustainable underwear.
One SUPER important thing to note, though: I purchased 100€ of underwear and bras from Do You Green after reading this, and after 11 days I’m considering opening a credit card dispute. My order perpetually says “in process” and there is no way to contact the company (no email, their phone number on the invoice is not in service, they’re silent on social media, the chat feature on their website is not actually a chat feature).
You may want to consider removing them from your recommended sources unless you’re able to confirm that they’re still in business. I’m suspecting that they’re not or that something is very wrong.
Oh, so sorry to hear you’ve had this issue. I do hope it gets resolved for you. They seem to be still posting on social media. Did you try the phone number on their website? Is it the same as the one on the invoice?