Buying a new a swimsuit or bikini can be a chore of a job, especially if you looking for sustainable ethical swimwear. Thankfully we’ve saved you hours of research and listed some of the top brands of eco friendly bathing suits and ethical bikinis in the UK and Europe. The article is divided into two sections, the first looks at recycled swimwear, while the other is limited to swimwear made in the UK. Happy shopping.
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Under the Same Sun (see above) are a Swedish brand creating sustainable swimwear, and other garments, in factories in Portugal. They use low impact textiles such as recycled polyester, tencel, and organic leather. The recycled polyester that they use is OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified. The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of production. Testing for harmful substances includes; illegal substances, legally regulated substances, known harmful (but not legally regulated) chemicals, as well as parameters for health care. Tencel is spun by reconstituting cellulose, often taken from the beech or eucalyptus tree and as it’s made out of wood pulp, the company claims that it is both biodegradable and recyclable. The company also claim that they use a printing technique that is safe for the environment and the worker and produces zero waste.
Rubymoon is a UK-based swimwear company offering products made from plastic salvaged from the oceans. 100% of the net profits generated by RubyMoon are lent out as small loans, through lendwithcare.org, to empower women entrepreneurs in eleven nations. Also RubyMoon uses ECONYL® nylon yarn recycled from old fishing nets and other waste material and Xtra Life Lycra, a chlorine resistant fabric durable that lasts for more than 100 hours of exposure. RubyMoon swimwear is validated to produce 42% fewer emissions compared to other high street swimwear by The Princes Accounting For Sustainability Project conducted by Ecodesignbloom.com. In addition RubyMoon claims that all of their products are manufactured in an ethical and transparent supply chain. You can buy their swimwear from the RubyMoonSwim etsy store or through the social enterprise The Big Issue
Finisterre is a UK-based company that promises innovation built to last from responsibly sourced fabrics and factories while developing relationships with people they believe in. Their sustainable swimwear is made from ECONYL®, a nylon yarn recycled from old fishing nets and other waste material and they donate 10% of profits from the sale of ECONYL® swimwear to Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity protecting UK waves, oceans and beaches.
Batoko in the UK is an independent swimwear brand based on the North West Coast of England. All of their sustainable swimwear is made from 100% recycled fabric, from plastic bottles and post-consumer waste such as carpets and other textiles. Additionally their swimsuits are printed digitally which reduces water consumption and waste, and their inks are free of harmful chemicals. The company operate on a slow fashion principle and don’t engage in fast turn around of styles. They work with an audited factory in China, which they say, takes necessary measures to avoid both environmental degradation, along with following and respecting the labour principles set out in the BSCI Code of Conduct which ensures a fair and safe working environment for all it’s workers. The company is a member of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), who work to ensure our seas are healthy, pollution free and protected and each year a proportion of the company’s profits go to supporting this organisation. For shipping, they use the smallest size of 100% recycled poly packaging from Eco Enclose, a company that recycles their mail bags from post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste. The packaging is lighter than their paper counterparts, so more energy efficient and the mail bags have an extra strip which allows you to reuse the packaging.
Ode & Rae are an English brand with a range of bikinis called Luxe made from recycled plastic taken from the ocean. Also for every piece they make they protect 1 square km of rainforest for 25 years.
Davy J in the UK make sustainable swimwear designed to last from nylon yarn recycled from old fishing nets. Their costumes have a double lined, high elastane composition that provides extra strength, durability and shape. The company are aiming to create a closed-loop resource system, so they invite you to return your worn out swimsuit to them and they will reuse as much. They are trying to achieve 60% closed loop recycling by 2020.
Deakin and Blue make a range of flattering swimwear pieces in London from material recycled from old fishing nets and industrial plastics. They say that their fabrics last twice as long as standard lycra, and that they work with Oeko-Tex® certified suppliers, environmentally and socially responsible manufacturers and partners who pay fairly, use chemicals safely and minimise waste where possible. Their tissue paper uses soy-based ink and is printed on acid-free FSC® certified paper and they donate profits to marine conservation organisations.
Patagonia is a high-street that makes sustainable swimwear from recycled nylon printed with PVC- and phthalate-free inks and their board shorts and bikinis are fair trade certified. 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.
If you’re looking for something custom made then check out Stidston Swimwear in Devon, who make bikinis to order in velour or ECONYL®, a nylon yarn recycled from old fishing nets and other waste material.
Tucca Swim make pieces from recycled Nylon in the UK. they say that their packaging is minimal, biodegradable and plastic free.
UK brand Vivida Lifestyle makes OEKO – TEX certified swimwear and clothing from recycled and certified organic materials. Their swing tags are recycled paper with natural ties and they use compostable packaging, and biodegradable mailers. The factory that makes their organic cotton clothing is wind powered and the fabric mills that makes their eco neoprene is Blue Sign certified for excellence in energy and water usage and waste disposal.
Boden in the UK makes swimwear from recycled nylon and recycled polyester. The company are working to replace all virgin polyester with recycled polyester, use cotton grown with less water and use recycled cotton. The company also donates money and clothes to charities. They publish a full list of their factories. Their boxes are made from recycled paper in mailer that are partially made from recycled materials.
French company Base Range makes swimwear from recycled fibres.
Nu-in is a German company making fashion-forward certified vegan 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.
Danish brand Underprotection makes their swimwear from recycled polyester in a small factory in New Dehli, India. They only use certified materials and in 2013 they obtained the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) young designer license.
Two Thirds is a Spanish brand offering clothing from men and women, some of which are made from organic or swimwear made partially with nylon recycled from salvaged fishing nets.
All Sisters is a Barcelona based, swimwear brand that uses recycled fabrics to create high-end swimsuits.
Arkitaip in Spain creates its garments out of natural fibres that are more for lounging by the pool than for dipping in the pool or ocean. Unfortunately they blend these natural fibres with synthetic fibres, albeit from recycled marine and industrial waste, making the garment non-compostable and non-recyclable.
La Bom is a Spanish brand of swimwear made from Econyl in factories in Spain. They run production in small batches and in a way that minimises fabric waste. They use recycled and/or compostable packaging and their tissue is bleach-free paper printed with soy ink. Their factory doesn’t wrap their products individually in plastic bags, and any plastic bags they receive from the factory is returned to them for reuse.
Emroce in Italy make swimwear from Econyl, a synthetic fibre made from plastic waste. They also use recycled paper collected from the local supermarket to make their tessellating patterns, which create less waste. They’ve purposely designed their garments so as to create as little waste as possible at the cutting state. The company sourced a thread with high stretch to ensure durability and have been trialling more sustainable alternatives to the elastic bands but have yet to find a replacement that is as durable.
Italian brand UND make timeless swimwear from recycled lycra in Italy and claim to only work with suppliers that have instigated efficiency programs and investments in terms of water efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, and low CO2 emissions.
CasaGin make simple, elegant swimwear from Econyl blended with elastane, in Italy. The work with companies that are all within 70km of their head office, keeping their carbon emissions down. Their packaging is recycled card and compostable bioplastic. They also do a active wear range.
Hungarian Undersea Bikini make swimwear from Econyl and their packaging is made of recycled and sustainably sourced materials, even their hangtags are made from seed papers, that you can plant. They plant a tree for every bikini sold and donate 10% of the sales price to a different environmental charity every year.
Aava swim is a US company with a European warehouse and factories in Europe. They make swimsuits and bikinis from recycled Econyl and elastane, which are shipped in cotton bags in compostable mailers that can be used for returns. They have a wide range of sizes and say that they inspect factories regularly to ensure fair working conditions, but there is no mention of independent certification.
The following companies don’t focus on the sustainability of their materials or dyes. They simply manufacture their sustainable swimwear in the UK.
Kiss Me Deadly, is an independent lingerie brand in the UK that claims to insist on ethics certificates for any manufacturers outside of the EU.
Kiniki have been making their lingerie and swimsuits in England for over 40 years. They also have a range of tan-thru swimwear, which as you can imagine allows you to get a tan through them. They also do a men’s range.
To Dive For designs and makes its ethical swimwear in the UK.
Another UK made swimwear brand is Samantha Sage. They also make swimsuits for teenagers and children.
Halcyon Blue is a UK swimwear company that makes Brazilian inspired swimwear in its UK based factory from components made in Europe. Be warned their bikini’s are tiny and their swimsuits are very high-cut and see-through in some instances!
Rankabrand is a very useful website that, as the name suggests, ranks brands based on their sustainability.