Sustainable Swimsuit Guide

Photo, Kiini


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.
ethical bikini
Zero Maria Cornejo
www.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.
fair trade organic cotton swimwear bio luz
Ruby Moon Swimwear
http://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.
ethical bikini
Luna Beach Swimwear
lunabeachswimwear.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.








base range ethical sustainable swimwear made in france
Shapes in the Sand
www.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.
ethical bikini
Emobi Swimwear
http://emobiswimwear.com
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.









base range ethical sustainable swimwear made in france
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.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
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.
ethical bikini
Vege Threads
www.vegethreads.com
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.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Spunkychic the Label
spunkychicthelabel.bigcartel.com
Affordable, long-lasting swimsuits manufactured in an ethical, fair wage factory using recycled or Textex certified materials.
ethical bikini
Liar Swimwear
liarswimwear.com.au
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.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Aqua Green
aquagreen.net
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.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Summerlove Swimwear
summerloveswimwear.com
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.

Paris to Go

30 comments:

  1. The Kiinis are gorgeous in person and hold up well to salt water. Plus, despite strenuous water based activities don't budge or sag.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's good to know! I've never seen anyone do more than work on their tan in them and I definitely need something that won't budge. I'm a klutz and I've had more swimsuit mishaps than I'd like to admit. Thanks for sharing! They are so cute and I love the stitching, very tempting...

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the DIY link.

      Delete
  2. Love Kiinis too. They are festive and worth picking up in several colors. Even if your style is not necessarily bohemian, they somehow look good on everyone and are crazy photogenic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another recommendation! Thanks Tamara. I haven't tried one on yet, I am a little worried about it giving enough coverage on top but I've seen pregnant women wear them so I think you're right, they must e magically flattering!

      Delete
  3. Wow, I cannot believe how much time you must have been spending looking for all this info. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing guide!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so sweet Chloe! It took the better part of yesterday haha but I feel like I saw every ethical swimsuit there was. I'll keep updating this as people recommend other brands!

      Delete
  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I've been looking everywhere for something like this. It's so hard to find ethically made, quality swimwear that fits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Jess, I hope it helps! Your blog is so beautiful! And I agree it's more difficult than it should be. Finding good swimwear is a challenge, environmentally friendly and socially just swimwear even more so.

      Delete
  5. that's a great list, thank you! I have my bathing suits forever, and won't bee needing any soon, but I like those, too: http://www.ea-seawear.de/the-project/

    ReplyDelete
  6. These are wonderful! I love the story behind it, and the cotton heavy crochet. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why are you annoyed with TheRealReal now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their quality control is really poor. And the prices got so high! They are glutted with dirty merchandise, the customer service is nonexistent, and even the pictures show lint and soil and the garments are listed as "very good." I think the descriptions are bad now and the measurements are inaccurate lately. At least they don't sell as many obvious fakes as Vestiaire Collective.

      Delete
  8. It may not be zero waste but Marysia makes gorgeous and well-crafted swimsuits. Those would last a long time and you'd never need a replacement. They are minimalist but ladylike and retro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are beautiful! Love the scallops. I wonder if they are supportive?

      Delete
  9. This is wonderful - thank you for putting this guide together!

    I wish more swimsuit designers made cute, modern-looking swimsuits for women with bosoms beyond a B-cup. Even the companies listed above, that make DD tops, look as though they are made out of very flimsy fabric, which isn't going to lift or support. I have great hopes for Vitamin A. If I purchase from their site, I'll report back :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, please let me know! Kiini and Prism I know will support beyond a DD cup (for a short time at least). I've heard Auria and Shapes in the Sand would be good too but haven't tried them yet. I agree that many designers (and bra makers!) don't do enough to cater for larger busts, it really limits our options for an entirely eco-friendly wardrobe.

      Delete
  10. Custom could be another way to go. https://kiniswimwear.com/ (No relation to Kiini) lets you design your own. If you need something with more support, that may be the only option.

    ReplyDelete
  11. http://www.huit.com/ is a great one too: Keira Knightley wears 'em.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never heard of this brand before, thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  12. Don't forget Luva Huva!

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/luvahuva

    ReplyDelete
  13. This makes me wish for an excuse to replace my swimwear! I think I have a few years to go, though. I had no idea there were so many sustainable options - that's so great! You'll have to let us know what you choose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had no idea either! Ugh I keep putting the shopping off...

      Delete
  14. She Made Me (Aussie brand) is handmade in limited quantities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful stuff. These suggestions are so great! Thank you!

      Delete
  15. For minimalistic georgeous swimwear you can also try a Polish brand Muuv Apparel, they use recycled fabrics.
    www.muuv.pl/

    ReplyDelete
  16. Happy to be included in this guide <3
    We create unique handmade underwear & swimwear from upcycled textiles saved from the reckless fashion industry's waste streams. anekdotboutique.com

    ReplyDelete