Whether you're staycation-ing this year or jetting off abroad, you'll likely end up lounging on a beach at some point this summer. Need to overhaul your holiday wardrobe? Do so in a positive way, with sustainable swimwear that looks as good on you as it is for the planet.
There's something about staring into the sea and spotting plastic trash or microplastics in the ocean that makes one ponder our impact on the planet. Something as small as a bikini can have a big impact on the health of the planet, especially if it's from a fast fashion brand. But even if you always shop for the best sustainable fashion brands, it's not always easy to find sustainable swimwear as not all have a swimwear collection
It's easy to get sucked into some ever-so-subtle greenwashing but to find truly sustainable swimwear you can jump in the sea without feeling guilty about it, you need to look out for are B-Corp certified brands.
What is sustainable swimwear?
As with most sustainable fashion brands, there are various ways in which swimwear labels can be more eco-conscious, starting with the fabric: what it's made of, if it's durable, and if it's easily recyclable.
Some recycle existing materials such as fishnets and plastic bottles to avoid waste and use up fewer resources, which goes a small way to fixing the amount of rubbish and pollution in our oceans.
You also want to make sure the supply chain is as transparent as possible and look at whether workers are paid fairly, how far the garment has had to travel from and how (for example by plane or by car), and whether the packaging it's sent in is eco-friendly.
What to look for in sustainable swimwear?
"Navigating the world of sustainable swimwear can feel like a minefield, but you'll know if a brand is truly sustainable if they're B Corp certified. Brands have to undergo rigorous testing for up to three years to certify, meaning you know they're ticking all the right boxes when it comes to protecting both people and planet," says our Sustainability Editor, Ally Head.
"Other things to look out for - if the brand is paying their workers fairly, utilising innovative and planet-friendly materials, and using compostable and biodegradable packaging, plus if the garment is produced here in the UK. It's always worth researching if the company is net zero or striving to be, too," Head explains.
"My personal favourite is AWAY THAT DAY - they won our Sustainability Awards last year. Any brand made in the UK gets a thumbs up from me and I'm a big fan of their sustainability credentials," our Sustainability Editor explains.
Where can I buy a sustainable bathing suit?
Luckily, whether it's small independent brands or bigger high street and sportswear names, plenty of brands are investing in sustainable practices for their garments, including bikinis and swimsuits.
Shop our edit of the best sustainable swimwear brands below, and while I have you, do check out these fabulous sustainable lingerie brands while you're at it.
Stay Wild Swim is a luxury sustainable swimwear brand founded by sustainable entrepreneurs Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk to tackle the global plastic crisis, a cause close to their hearts. Their swimwear is made using ECONYL® yarn, a regenerated nylon created from fishing nets and other plastic waste rescued from oceans and landfills worldwide. The brand also uses thread made of upcycled PET bottles and innovative hygiene layers from biodegradable tree pulp.
Vanessa Sposi is a swimwear brand that creates eco-conscious and ethically made swimwear pieces. Made in Portugal and woven in Italy, although they may have a lot of movement, the fabrics used are one of the best for the ocean and planet. They are OEKO-TEX certified, which means they are free from harmful substances so you can drive into the sea guilt-free. On top of that, they are made with Econyl regenerated nylon, and the linings are filled with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to soothe skin as you wear them. Yes, really.
Mara Hoffman's swimwear is made from a blend of ECONYL regenerated nylon, and Spandex. The company continues to focus on sustainable materials, processes, and production in order to improve and extend each garment’s life and is a vocal and active advocate in seeking racial and social justice for the sake of a more equitable society.
These timeless designs are created in London, and have been awarded the Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark, which recognises brands that work to actively diminish their environmental footprint, as well as positively impact their communities. This is one of the best sustainable swimwear brands for a number of reasons. They use recycled or compostable packaging and use recycled fibers that are discarded fishing nets or plastics found in the ocean. It's not only good for the planet, but good for you too as the fabric used helps to boost circulation and promotes muscle oxygenation at the same time.
Now this has to be one of the best sustainable swimsuits. It is fully biodegradable, and even the belt is completely recycled. It's in the name, but this swimsuit really will leave zero trace on the planet. Devon-based Davy J's first collection uses 100% regenerated nylon yarn from waste including spent and ghost fishing nets (an average of 640,000 tons of fishing nets are left in the oceans every year). Their swimsuits are built to last, however, when they do reach the end of their life, you're encouraged to return them so the brand can recycle them.
Endless Love Affair take their relationship with the planet and sustainability seriously. The brand was founded with ethical and sustainable practices at its core. The packaging is biodegradable or can be recycled, even the tissue paper is recycled. All fabrics used are sourced responsibly and at a production level they ensure factories are up to standard when it comes to social and environmental factors.
Away That Day's swimwear collection is also made from ECONYL Regenerated Nylon, like most of our favourite sustainable swimwear brands. But Away That Day also makes sure to reduce water, emissions and waste going to landfill.
Swim Society pride themselves on their sustainable practices and have made it a core part of their brand. They chose the most sustainable option first, and use recycled materials for all their fabrics. As we know, recycled materials aren't enough. Swim Society plant a tree for every order placed, and use biodegradable packaging.
Masarà swimwear is made from safe textiles, meeting the Oeko-Tex standards. Everything is produced in Italy from start to finish and made from regenerated nylon, including repurposed nylon waste. They've previously used old fishing nets and other scraps for recycled sustainable swimwear.
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Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.
Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).
Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at MoneySavingExpert.com, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.
However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.
Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.
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