The last time somebody stayed in my apartment while I was away, my bathing suits disappeared- all except one bikini top, which I forgot in a Norwegian sauna. N'importe quoi. I bought them years ago, and my Victoria's Secret bikini (that I once, hilariously, thought resembled something a Bond girl would wear) provided unseemly, tourniquet-like compression. Now I'm hunting for another one, and it's agonizing. For someone who hates shopping, I tend to overanalyze prospective purchases. I don't think I buy much, but I consider everything, which yielded the body of research below. Finding a plastic-free swimsuit is hard, so I looked for designers who adhere to Oeko-Tex standards, using recycled fabrics, biodegradable packaging, hand dye techniques, vertical integration, and ethical / fair trade labor. Every synthetic item washed releases around 1,900 plastic microfibers, making it more eco-friendly to DIY a swimsuit from wool, hemp, or cotton. Alternately, you could channel Taylor Swift circa 2014 in a vintage, thrifted, or deadstock bikini. Since The Real Real is annoying me lately- having reached Vestiaire Collective-levels of substandard quality control and nonexistent customer service- here are 30+ ethical brands for every budget and style (includes men's and children's swimwear).
Uses EcoLux jersey, derived from recycled nylon fiber and manufactured in California. Incorporates linen and waterless digital printing in production. Has the distinct advantage of being worn by Gigi Hadid.
100% recycled polyamide swimsuits made in London from discarded fishnets or carpet tiles. Auria uses upcycled thread and works with Net-Works to put destructive nets back into the supply chain.
Ethical swimwear designed and produced in New York from Italian fabric. Each minimalist collection is produced in limited quantities from high quality (organic, where possible) textiles.
Minimalist brand based in Denmark and Toulouse working exclusively with small family factories in Portugal and France. Focuses on organic, natural fibers and uses only Oeko-Tex or GOTS dyes.
GOTS-certified, fair trade organic cotton swimwear company committed to social responsibility and reducing both water consumption and fertilizer usage. Workers receive a fair wage and realistic schedule.
Zero Maria Cornejowww.zeromariacornejo.com
Stitched with recycled yarn, produced with eco-conscious textiles, including pre / post-consumer waste. Cut from a single piece of material where possible, made in NYC or small, independent Italian factories.
Derived from 100% regenerated polyamide by Econyl, using discarded fishnets from the ocean to make yarn. Features recycled paper hang tags; packaged in compostable material.
Ruby Moon Swimwearhttp://rubymoon.org.uk/
Ethical, limited edition recycled nylon swimwear made from used fishing nets. Chlorine resistant, reversible styles reduce emissions by 42%. Net profits lent to female entrepreneurs globally.
Luna Beach Swimwearlunabeachswimwear.com/
One of a kind hand-dyed swimsuits designed in Barcelona. Their website makes vague generalizations about charity and protecting marine life, but I'm told the cute shibori bikinis are produced ethically.
Handmade in Hawaii from Italian fabric, recycled fishing nets, and organic natural fabrics including hemp, modal, and linen. Part of the Healthy Seas Initiative and 1% For the Planet.
Organic and remnant textiles for handmade, padding-and-underwire-free swimwear. Curlee Bikini aims to be zero waste, repairing swimwear and accepting old swimsuits back for reuse.
A favorite of Rihanna, Jungle Gurl cuts from vintage fabrics or vintage garments for one of a kind upcycled swimsuits. The eco-conscious designer collects materials on her travels, ensuring no two are the same.
Shapes in the Sandwww.shapesinthesand.com.au
Transparent Australian company using Econyl and 100% regenerated yarn from fishing nets and discarded clothing diverted from landfills. Waterless printing process, made in Australia.
Ethical and sustainable company working with local fiber growers to ensure humane practices, like rotational grazing. Artisans hand dye with wild plants and crochet at home. Featured in The Fashionable Selby.
Swimwear made in Australia supporting up to a DD cup. All prints are original and designed in-house, utilizing environmentally friendly water based dyes, reducing their impact on beaches and waterways.
Men's and women's "land to sea" eco-friendly swimwear featuring recycled polyester from plastic bottles. Utilizes hand dyeing techniques and works closely with manufacturers.
Eco-swimwear known for the Little Recycled Bikini, made of tree-free recycled fibers. A portion of proceeds supports various charitable organizations, such as The Rainforest Partnership.
Manufactured in a facility dedicated to reducing emissions, water pollution, and waste. Bikinis made from post-consumer recycled materials with reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging.
Uses only post consumer waste materials or recycled lycra, reducing energy 80% compared to virgin lycra. They also implement a take back program to divert old swimsuits from landfills.
Maaji helps restore Colombian watersheds by replanting native species in areas affected by violence. They promote social construction in vulnerable areas, working to preserve topsoil and habitats.
Committed to providing organic, ethical basics using ACO or natural plant dyes and GOTS-certified material. A portion of profits provide food, school supplies, and bedding for needy families in North Bali.
Limited edition designs with sustainable and ethical production. Swimwear is made in a a light, bright, ethical atelier in Rio de Janeiro where seamstresses are paid a living wage and provided transport.
Spunkychic the Labelspunkychicthelabel.bigcartel.com
Affordable, long-lasting swimsuits manufactured in an ethical, fair wage factory using recycled or Textex certified materials.
Ethical, locally sourced and manufactured vintage inspired swimwear. Focuses on reducing carbon footprint and workplace exploitation as well as minimizing waste and pollution from dyes or other materials.
Eco-friendly swimsuits and activewear made in the USA from recycled or reclaimed materials. Odina Surf uses organic cotton tags, boasts a solar powered website, and supports Reef Check and Ocean Girl.
Made in America with FSC certified recycled garment and hang tags. Fabrics derived from post consumer waste and renewable sources such as coffee grounds, corn, and biodegradable Eco-Cell foam.
Affordable Econyl swimwear produced using pre and post consumer waste, featured in SI Swimsuit Edition 2016. Shipped in reusable, recycled mailers. Member of 1% for the Planet.
These last recommendations, I'm not really sure of, but they seem less bad than other options: Cocodune knits recyclable fabric for their supportive tops and sag-proof bottoms in Italy. Try them on at home for free, then pay for what you keep. Beyonce-approved Prism swimwear is handmade (which can mean a lot of things) in Italy, and as far as I can tell does not use illegal Chinese labor. I'm in love with the blush Praslin top and Hollywood bottoms, but I have the fashion sense of a 70 year old woman. Fables by Barrie makes sweatshop-free pinup swimsuits in San Diego. Cali Dreaming shows up on a lot of green swimwear guides, but I can't find anything about their sustainable initiatives. Bain is a chic, eco-friendly French brand for men and women that I'm not quite sure exists. I know two people who have their swimsuits, so I'm including them here. Ma Ptite Culotte was, at one time, made in France. Last year, the designer said she would not be able to continue using French ateliers for production. Anek Dot Boutique in Berlin makes sustainable swimwear and lingerie. Finally, Kiini are handmade, high quality, and fully recyclable without plastic fasteners. See Konscious.co or the comments below for more brands! Click here for sustainable activewear and workout clothes.