They say it’s always best to start small, so if you’re trying to build a more eco-friendly wardrobe, may I suggest you start with sustainable lingerie?
While lingerie isn’t exactly one of the most environmentally friendly industries, there are a few ethical fashion brands doing their very best to change that in different ways.
Some are focusing on fabrics that will have the least impact on the planet, such as made from natural fibres (organic cotton, bamboo, wood pulp) or recycled materials, thus making sure they are in turn more durable and better recyclable. Brands are also practising circularity by making bras and knickers using surplus fabric rather than sending it to landfills. Genius.
Others are focusing on producing their products more ethically, whether that’s lowering their carbon footprint by shortening the supply chain, using a production process that is less harmful to the planet, such as using less water or dying lingerie using natural products.
Regardless of which aspect it is focusing on, if not all of them, any sustainable brand worth it’s salt will have clear information about its creds on its site, so that you, the consumer, can be part of the journey too.
Where can I buy sustainable lingerie?
The good news, what with non-essential shops being closed right now, is that you can buy loads of sustainable lingerie online. Sure, it’s a bit of a faff as if you’re unsure of your size, it means trying on at home and returning afterwards, but you can do that for free, and some postal partners will even collect your parcel from your door.
With that in mind, please find my pick of the best sustainable lingerie pieces below. There are knickers made of bamboo cotton, bras made of biodegradable silk and super comfy shapewear made of lycra and an environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral yarn made from beech trees. Enjoy (and if you need help, head to our guide for how to find the right bra size).
CREASE aims to create pieces that become a favourite in your wardrobe and, with a little love and care, favourites in generations to come. They design pieces to be timeless, away from trends and only use the highest quality materials that are sourced sustainably and ethically. Their collections are all Made-to-Order and they always produce in small, limited quantities.
They have a transparant approach to working - considering the life cycle of the piece, rather than its upfront function. Where possible they design to incorporate no waste pattern cutting techniques and aim to only use materials natural to the earth as these are biodegradable (they currently work with an organic 'Peace Silk' manufacturer) and all components are made of propeties that are natural to the earth - buttons in their collections are made from shells and sourced locally within London. All offcuts and waste fabrics are reworked in their studio into new creations - bags and accessories sold as one-off pieces to give the material a new life.
These briefs are made from the label’s signature modal, sustainably sourced from beechwood trees. Using 95% less water in its production than cotton, it also breathes with the skin and holds its shape and softness with no VPL.
The label's organic cotton is grown with no pesticides, herbicides or harmful chemicals. Organic production maintains soil fertility, reduces the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and builds biologically diverse agriculture.
'We created Fruity Bootyto celebrate normality rather than idealizing perfection,' says founder Hattie Tennant. 'We use real girls instead of models and never photoshop our images. We mainly use fabrics that would have otherwise gone to waste and turn them into something beautiful, creating limited-edition collections.'
The butter fabric is made from a combination of lycra and an environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral yarn made from beech trees. These beech trees require no extra water and no pesticides, and are considered a renewable resource. The Austrian knitting mill where butter fabric is produced uses over 80% renewable energy. The dyeing and finishing practices for butter are state-of-the-art and a large amount of the process heat (from used water and used air) is recovered and reused. Lastly, butter is Eco-Tex Standard 100, OekoTex STep, and REACH certified.
Heist launched The Fishnet in 2019, their first recycled product. Since then, we have gone on to launch new sustainable styles to The Tights Collection, each made from recycled yarns, including recycled Polyamide (Q-Nova® by Fulgar) and recycled Elastane (Roica Eco-Smart™). Their focus on eco-tights was due to them being most likely to end up in landfill. Introducing eco and sustainable fabrics into their underwear from this year across all product categories. Like The Eco Body, made from 100% recycled and recyclable materials.
The label ensures transparency of its production process. All items are made in Poland, using materials from France and Italy. The crotch lining is made of bamboo cotton, and the label doesn't overproduce items to avoid waste. It also avoids plastic in its packaging.
Recently named the winner of the ‘Positive Change Award’ by Drapers in recognition of sustainability leadership, the brand has committed to the following: all pure cotton items to be organic by 2025, five years ahead of schedule, and to support 20,000 farmers to convert to organic cotton production by 2025, as well as an ambition to be the world’s most sustainable publicly-listed fashion brand by 2030.
Lara underwear is made from deadstock fabric in its UK factory, and bras are available in sizes 26-36, A-GG.
Baserange is committed to eliminating synthetic fabrics from its collections and uses natural fibres, such as bamboo and organic cotton.
The label uses rescued stock materials or 100% biodegradable silk for its designs.
HARA, meaning green in Hindi, is an Australian label focused on consciously creating lingerie made from bamboo, which is less harmful to the planet, is OEKO-TEX 100 certified and dyed using plant dyes.
Made from environmentally friendly micro modal; each pair of Cavalier pants delivers a desirable silk soft feel with a sexy, every-body celebrated attitude. Their commitment to full circle consideration for people, planet and pants is tied off with packaging that is not only made from recycled material but can also rejoin that cycle after use or biodegrade.
The Underprotection features sustainable materials made up of recycled polyester, recycled wool, lyocell and organic cotton. It is also certified vegan by PETA, and products are made if small rooms, reducing the brand's carbon footprint.
The brand is using more non-virgin materials like recycled polyamide and polyester, as well as fabrics such as EcoVero, a plant-based fibre from sustainable sources and processed in a way that uses less water and produces fewer emissions. It is also looking at other ways of reducing its carbon impact – for the last few years, all of product has been shipped via sea shipment and it has banned the use of air freight for production, which is one of the key contributors to a high carbon footprint.