Ethical Swimwear To Make A Splash In (And Help Our Seas)

Ethical Swimwear To Make A Splash In (And Help Our Seas)

Do you want to make a splash in the fashion world while also helping our seas? There are plenty of ethical swimwear brands that have been making waves lately. Read on for some helpful tips to find your perfect suit.

The question is often asked by those looking for environmentally friendly and sustainable clothing. 

These days, there's no shortage of options available, with many styles and designs readily available from several retailers or designers. However, it can be difficult for those who might be new to this idea to know where to start, so we've put together some handy hints below!

Who says you can't be stylish and environmentally conscious? There are so many companies out there making beautiful swimwear that will make you feel good about yourself and the world around you. This post is all about highlighting some of these amazing brands creating sustainable goods for people like us! Let's dive in. 

Many people don't know how much damage one pair of swimmers can do to our oceans. When we choose cheap, quick-to-fade fabric or buy a suit with harmful chemicals inside it, we're doing more than harming ourselves - we're hurting the environment too. Swimsuits should last at least two summers - enough time for them to get worn out without looking old or ratty.

Did you know that, on average, we use ten plastic bags a day? That is over one million plastic bags every minute. So we need to make some changes, and it starts with our clothing choices. 

Swimsuits can be made from recycled materials like old fishing nets, and the polyester in them will break down after time in the water, making for more sustainable options. Read on to learn more about how swimwear can help not only your style but our oceans too! 

People spend a lot of time and money on their vacation plans. So, it makes sense to choose the best beach destination that suits your needs. Next, you'll want to consider what kind of swimwear you're comfortable with wearing in public. 

If you're looking for an eco-friendly option, then ethical swimwear might be just right for you! It's made without toxic chemicals or animal products, so it won't harm the environment or other living creatures when disposed of improperly. 

Plus, by choosing this type of swimsuit, not only are you doing your part to keep our seas healthy but also supporting sustainable development practices in manufacturing communities around the world while keeping jobs at home!

There has been a surge in ethical swimwear in the past few years, making waves among consumers. It's time to get your hands on some sustainable swimwear! 

With more and more people becoming aware of their impact on the environment, they're opting for clothing made without harsh chemicals and animal byproducts. Sustainable fabrics like hemp and bamboo are taking over as well. And it doesn't stop with clothes; we've spotted eco-friendly accessories like totes and towels too! 

These products can be hard to find at stores near you, but we do our best to make sure everything listed on our site is affordable and environmentally friendly. So let one of us help you find the perfect outfit today! 

Let's get started!

Is All Swimwear Sustainable?

There are two main problems with swimwear - the amount of it and what it's made of.

The current state of fast fashion and trend-based clothing production has created a problem, and swimwear is no exception.

Wrap U.K. estimates that 350,000 tonnes of used (but wearable) clothing heads straight to a landfill in the U.K. every year, not to mention the loads of unworn clothing that sits around in people's wardrobes.

Conventional swimwear contains textiles, but the main material making up our cheeky little bikinis is plastic.

Typical swimwear companies generally rely on materials like nylon, polyester and Lycra for their ability to wick moisture, easily stretch and allow for relatively cheap production.

But we all know the problem with plastic - it has nowhere to go but break down.

It's estimated that 65 tonnes of plastic materials are generated every year, and only 10% of that is recycled.

If it can’t decompose, where does the rest of it go? Sadly, it heads straight for landfills, oceans, and even into our food chain (eek).

But the choice of material is just the start of the problem.

For these fast fashion companies to ensure a quick turnaround with their ever-changing trend pieces, they have to ensure that they have the shortest lifespan possible.

That's why you probably threw away that cheap onesie you bought a few summers ago because it's falling apart, uncomfortable, or (god forbid) you realise it's see-through after just one use or two.

And even the few that do last, styles change so rapidly that we feel compelled to toss last season’s suit for the brand new one we’ve seen all over social media.

Cheap materials and fast production sadly result in high CO2 emissions and cheap labour, which isn't good for the planet or the economy, let alone the wellbeing of undercompensated and overworked labourers.

Thankfully, we’re not alone in the fast fashion misery.

Below are our favourite ethical swimwear companies doing what they can to challenge the swimwear production norms and help the planet in the process.

What Is Sustainable Swimwear?

There are many takes on this.

When looking for sustainable swimwear, you need to consider:

  • what it’s made of
  • how it’s made
  • how many suits the company is cranking out every year

Most people would immediately say it would involve organic materials, such as hemp or organic cotton. But here’s the thing: if you wear swimwear made out of 100% organic cotton or hemp, they get soaked, sag…and possibly fall right off. 

Especially if you are swimming! If you want your suit to keep its form and stay on your body, you will need some kind of synthetic, such as nylon or elastic.

So what's the most ecological way to obtain those materials? Through recycling, of course! The only problem? When washed, these materials D.O. shed microparticles of plastics. We're not going to deny that. 

But the sad reality is that most recycled plastic ends up being a product that doesn't get much use. Think plastic bags or packaging. After all that effort, all that recycled plastic just gets thrown away after one use.

So it seems to us to be a wonderful idea to create something much more long-lasting from discarded synthetic materials. Something like…swimwear!

Ethical swimwear brands all embrace the idea that the key to creating it is making sure that it not only looks amazing but is responsibly crafted and lasts.

They do this by sourcing different, natural materials or repurposing plastics that already exist in the world (from the approximate 8 billion tonnes on the planet, there’s certainly no short supply).

Plastic comprises much of the estimated 1.4 billion tonnes of waste that enters our oceans each year, and one-tenth of that is said to be abandoned fishing nets.

Many of these ethical swimwear brands are sourcing ocean plastics as their main (if not only!) ingredient.

The plastics are sorted, cleaned, and broken down into flakes that can then be melted down into thread called ECONYL, and it's actually more soft and stable than its predecessor, Lycra.

From there, normal production ensues. But that’s not all that makes these brands admirable.

They make a point to craft pieces that last - the longer you hang on to your new suit, the less of them end up in a landfill.

They are not only reducing and (doing their best at) reversing plastic waste, but they’re using design to make timeless pieces that won’t go out of style after just one season.

From Waste To Wow

Luckily today, there are loads of stylish, sexy brands using not only recycled plastic bottles but also nylon fishing nets, carpets and other recyclable textiles to create sleek, sexy eco-friendly swimwear for every body type.

These brands are helping to clean up the oceans (many actually upcycle ocean waste in their creations) to bring eco-friendly swimwear to the masses.

From the teeniest, weeniest bikinis to outfits that are a bit more modest, here I've selected some of the best sustainable swimwear options for any beach holiday, any time, anywhere. So now grab your basket bag, SPF, and enjoy the gorgeous weather!

20+ Ethical Swimwear

Look beautifully elegant in these swimwear labels, and feel good about your environmental footprint at the same time.

These brands are further proof of the emerging movement towards beautiful, responsible fashion that is taking the world by storm right now.

Who would have thought recycled waste could look so good!

1. Reformation

Our favourite dress brand has launched an eco-friendly swimwear line, and the best part? It really is geared towards all body types!

Made mainly from ECONYL® regenerated nylon (mainly fabricated from recycled fishing nets and carpets), these stunning, highly original swimsuits come in a wide variety of bang-on-trend styles and patterns.

Why we love it: This is a highly size-inclusive eco-friendly swimwear range. We also love their retro 'boob tubes'. So 70s!

2. Davy J

This British beachwear brand is all about creating an ethical swimsuit that wears as good as it looks.

The suits' double lined, high elastane composition provides extra strength and shape so that you won't be reaching for another anytime soon.

But when you do, they encourage you to bring your suit back to them so they can repurpose its materials - Davy J hopes to have 60% closed-loop resourcing nailed soon.

They offer plenty of mix-and-match options from high-neck cropped tops to super high waisted briefs.

3. Mara Hoffman

This designer creates not only eco-friendly swimwear but loads of other clothing that's perfect for summer. Though she's best known for her colourful bathing suits, Mara Hoffman also creates the most gorgeous, floaty summer dresses, jumpsuits, kaftans, tops, shorts and beach cover-ups.

Why we love it: No matter, if it's a bathing suit, kaftan or top, Mara Hoffman ensures her creations are naturally dyed and 100% vegan friendly, too.

4. allSisters

allSisters is a Barcelona-based label that creates glamorous, sexy swimwear, which is practical for an active lifestyle.

Their swimsuits are made using Italian recycled textiles, which carry the Made in Green by OEKO-TEX® certification - guaranteeing that they're tested for harmful substances and are made in environmentally friendly + socially responsible workplaces.

Upcycled materials from local factories are also used to support the local economy.

5. La Isla

La Isla (also seen in our main pic) is one of our favourite eco-friendly swimwear brands, mainly for its highly unique and beautiful designs. 

These include touches such as drop or cap sleeves on their sustainable bikini tops or tassels on the ties of their bottoms. Their styles are made mainly from recycled PET bottles, and to reduce waste, you need to pre-order your suit.

What we love: The brand donates a portion of its proceeds to charities, including Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society and Youth Emerging Stronger.

6. Deakin & Blue

Deakin & Blue believes that doing good is just good business, and it strives to make a positive environmental, social and ethical impact.

All of its suits are created in a small London factory, using 100% recycled material from old fishing nets and industrial plastics, and it aims to help women of all shapes and sizes feel great on the beach and help the planet.

Their sculpting Essential Swimsuit combines a flattering v-neckline with peeps of sexy mesh.

7. Shapes in the Sand

Shapes in the Sand is a Sydney-based swimwear label that draws nature's inspiration for its designs.

All pieces are designed, printed and handmade in Sydney, using Italian-sourced regenerated nylon.

Shapes in the Sand also support the Australian Marine Conservation Society, helping to protect threatened species & habitats like the Great Barrier Reef.

8. Manakai

Manakai Swimwear is Maui's first high-fashion, low-impact, made-in-America swimwear brand created from regenerated nylon. 

Their newest collection uses an eco-friendly techno fabric made with ECONYL ®, a 100% regenerated nylon fibre made from fishing nets and other waste that is polluting the maritime world.

Why we love it: What we love even more is that many of these eco-friendly swimwear designs are actually two in one! So turn it inside-out, and you have a whole new outfit! Plus, we love how Manakai collaborates with artists. 

For example, their She’s One of a Kind collection was designed in conjunction with Cosmic Collage to make awesome art on their swimwear.

9. RubyMoon

RubyMoon is the world's only not-for-profit sustainable swimwear company that give 100% of net profits as microloans to business women across 14 developing countries.

But that's just half of it.

The company produces 42% fewer carbon emissions than its conventional counterparts and has a versatile line featuring crop tops, sports bras, leggings, rash guards and swimsuits.

The Solange GymToSwim Rash Guard is designed for durability and style, protecting you from chlorine, sunlight, and saltwater - whether it’s while you’re surfing the waves or hitting the volleyball court.

10. Vitamin A Swimwear

Vitamin A produces eco-friendly swimwear that can best be described as the water-ready equivalent of Audrey Hepburn's classic Little Black Dress. 

In fact, the brand has created what it calls the “Little Black Bikini”. This is no ordinary swimsuit: its seams lie flat against the skin, avoiding unsightly bulges and ‘elastic tattoos.’

Why we love it: This is one of the pioneering brands in eco-friendly swimwear. The founder designed the brand's main fabric herself: EcoLux™ — the first premium swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibres.

Since then, the company has incorporated several more sustainable high-performance fabrics and eco-conscious textiles like organic cotton, linen, recycled cotton and Tencel®. In addition, all materials are certified to meet the global Oeko-Tex standard for safe textiles.

11. Amara

Tulum-based label Amara uses Italian fabrics made of 78% recycled plastics recovered from the ocean, as well as XTRA LIFE LYCRA® to extend the life of each piece beyond traditional spandex products.

Their bathers are cut, printed and sewn in New York City.

We especially love the striking cut-out pieces of theirs.

These fun bathers are reversible - so you can show off either the patterned or block-colour design, depending on your mood.

12. Summerlove Swimwear

Summerlove is a brand that was born in and inspired by the easygoing beach culture of  California. Designer Vanessa Rivers is adamant about spreading awareness of environmental issues and uses VITA, a sustainable techno-fabric made with eco-nylon, to produce her collections.

This 100% regenerated polyamide fibre is made from pre-and post-consumer materials such as fishing nets, carpet floss, and other waste diverted from landfills. 

But the sexy, side-tied styles they result in are far from rubbish! In fact, so flattering are S.L.'s styles; they use their customers as their models. Don't believe us? Check out each model below: they're real people like you and me…but maybe a bit curvier. And with better swimwear!

Why we love it: This is one seriously sexy eco-friendly swimwear brand for women who are proud of their curves!

13. Arkitaip

Fighting against plastic, Arkitaip creates its garments out of natural fibres like linen.

Linen has a small carbon footprint, can grow without harsh chemicals and is 100% biodegradable.

The line is full of 70s-inspired super chic linen loungewear that’s perfect for your next holiday.

Plus, for bikinis and crop tops that are more for lounging by the pool than doing laps, their handmade crochet two pieces channel your inner 70s goddess.

14. Bare Beach

This extraordinary sustainable swimwear brand came up with the idea of recycling plastic bottles and transforming them into fashionable eco-friendly swimsuits that glorify the female silhouette. 

The eco-conscious label is making a difference in the marine world, where waste  – especially plastic – is an increasingly large issue. Even the brand's shipping policies are eco-friendly since their packaging uses EcoEnclose, produced from 100% recycled content.

Why we love it: Bare Beach is a PETA approved brand, which is great. It’s also ethically made in the USA

15. Vege Threads

Vege Threads is an Australian eco-fashion label that focuses on sustainability and social awareness.

Their flattering, elegant swimsuits are made in Australia from post-consumer nylon and XTRA LIFE LYCRA®.

Vege Threads also produces women's clothing and is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia for its fair working conditions and supply chains.

16. Vanilla Sand

This eco-friendly swimwear brand, founded by Corinna Dickenbrok to promote slow fashion, supports family-owned production chains, ensuring integrity and transparency. 

Of course, fair wages are always paid to its workers. And the health of the planet is always in the mind of Dickenbrok when she creates her styles.

For example? Vanilla Sand proudly uses natural materials like organic cotton and employs recycled materials, such as those made from reused fishnets and PET bottles.

What we love: The brand plants a tree in the Amazon for every purchase.

17. Batoko

Batoko is on a mission to turn trash into treasure.

Priding itself on being literal rubbish, the company produces sustainable swimwear made from 100% recycled plastic waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill or the ocean.

Based on the Northwest coast of England, the independent swimwear company plans to stay small, so the focus can stay on the quality of the product and be kinder to the planet.

Their bright suits feature fun patterns that are digitally printed to save water and energy.

18. Remnant Bikinis

Instead of creating more synthetic fabrics, this eco-friendly swimwear brand has chosen to upcycle existing nylon. Specifically, they use ghost fishing nets, ocean-bound plastic and textile remnants. The result? High-quality, soft, sustainable fabrics, out of which their sustainable bikinis are made.

By recycling already existing nylon, they do two great things. First, they avoid creating more nylon and others filling our landfills. Secondly, they can also clean up the oceans and save natural resources required in the production of virgin nylon, like water and oil.

What we love: Each item is made ethically in Bali. Remnant’s seamstresses receive double the minimum wage, free health insurance, and work in a happy family-like environment.

19. Koru

Koru Swimwear is so-named after the New Zealand Maori word for 'spiral', which symbolises new life, hope, spiritual growth, purity and peace.

Its swimwear is Kiwi inspired (owing to the designer's Kiwi heritage) and is made in the USA from discarded fishing nets.

When two friends decided to make eco-friendly swimwear from rubbish (including discarded fishing lines, carpet fluff and plastic bottles), a beautiful idea was born: Koru Swimwear. 

Given the essential role upcycling plays in the business, it’s rather appropriate that the word Koru means “new growth, strength and peace” in Maori.

The eco-friendly swimwear brand also uses only bulk dyed fabric processed without water waste or pollution, ensuring the oceans are kept as pristine as possible.

Why we love it: Koru also offers a capsule range of sustainable summer clothing and jewellery.

Koru is a partner of Healthy Seas and a member of 1% For The Planet, so each purchase will directly fund environmental protection.

20. Stidston Swimwear

Made to order in London, Stidston is seriously sexy ethical swimwear.

Each style is available in recycled Lycra and is designed for more than just the sun and the sand; you'll want to wear these cossies all day with options ranging from velvet to gingham.

21. UND Swimwear

Dedicated to keeping carbon emissions low, UND Swimwear is made 100% in Italy and sourced from sustainable suppliers that care just as much about waste management and renewable energy as they do.

The Lycra used in UND’s products comes from ocean plastics that are recycled in (you guessed it) Italy.

The suits are timeless, but they are anything but boring.

Mix-and-match a magnitude of mesh-edged tops and bottoms or go with a classic one-piece.

22. Petite Terre

Petite Terre Swimwear is handmade in Bali in fair working conditions, using - you guessed it - recycled materials.

Designs are a fusion between luxury lingerie and high-quality swimwear, which results in some seriously glamorous + highly detailed pieces.

The company is a member of 1% For the Planet, and a proportion of its sales are also used to support its local community and to build environmental awareness within it.

23. We Are Nativ

Channel your inner 80s aerobic goddess with We Are Nativ's ethical swimwear.

The killer cuts are sporty and sexy and rival the commercial brands by showing that sustainability is sexy and consciousness is cool.

With the high-fashion style, you’d never guess that everything’s created from post-consumer waste, 100% ECONYL and made ethically in Indonesia.

24. Undersea Bikini

Undersea Bikini is an eco-friendly swimwear label that focuses on creating a comfortable, lasting product you can feel good about wearing.

With a deeply rooted belief that fashion should be fair and luxury should automatically be about sustainability, the feminine-sporty collection is handmade from soft, Italian fabrics made from ECONYL.

Have fun with a large array of colours and styles, or keep it simple with a timeless onesie.

25. Elle Evans

Aussie ethical swimwear label Elle Evans has been making swimwear from recycled marine plastics since 2013.

Each piece is lovingly made to order, and the fifth collection, Franklin, is bang on trend with its sumptuous 70s mustard tones and retro caravanning holiday prints.

A small team produces their designs in Melbourne, using a combination of offcuts discarded by larger fashion houses + recycled post-consumer nylon (from fishnets, carpets, rope etc.).

Vintage chic sustainably made and made for keeps.

26. Volcom

Volcom has been committed to different fibre sourcing and responsible manufacturing for years.

This summer, it brings everything together, presenting bold monochrome colour block swimsuits that not only look good but won't let you down should you decide to SUP rather than hit the sun loungers.

The women's collection is made from 91% ECONYL, while the men's swimwear uses hemp and recycled plastic bottles.

27. Jade Swim

Founded by former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski Freeney, Jade Swim is a Black-owned business to watch. 

Built on a chic minimalist aesthetic, the L.A. brand uses luxe Italian fabrics and shape retention technology for ethical swimwear you can feel good about buying and look great wearing. 

Run by women (from factory owner to warehouse team), Jade Swim has stepped up during the current national crisis, donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the NAACP, and No Kid Hungry.

28. Londre Bodywear

With sustainability at the forefront, the Canadian swimwear label makes one-pieces and separates with double-lined compression material made from recycled plastic bottles from the streets and beaches of Taiwan and has recycled 90,000 bottles and counting. 

Londre will bring stylish functionality to your low-key backyard hangs by offering backless one-pieces, jewel-toned bikinis, and much more.

29. Ayla Swim

Ayla Swim dropped its Coral collection in May, inspired by the wonders of the ocean. Each piece is a tribute to endangered coral reefs worldwide, with 1% of each suit sold being donated to Coral Guardian, which supports regeneration work to protect and restore reefs. 

With beach-to-street convenience in mind, the eye-catching designs are prime for your 2021 beach debut (we're counting down the days).

30. Summersalt

With sustainability at its core, Summersalt creates its swimwear using compressive, luxurious fabric crafted from 78% recycled polyamide. 

Made from recycled plastics, post-consumer materials, and nylon waste (like old fishing nets), the complete product line (countless suit cuts in gingham, colour-blocking, animal-print, florals, and more) is crafted based on 1.5 million body measurements from 10,000 women to inform the perfect fit. 

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