Sustainable Swimwear Brands To Hit The Water In This Summer

Sustainable Swimwear Brands To Hit The Water In This Summer

The summer is a time of carefree days spent outside. It's a time to soak up the sun and cool water, but it can also be a time where we have to worry about what we're wearing. 

You might think that swimwear options are limited because of all the "one-piece or nothing" mentality out there, but you'd be wrong! There are plenty of sustainable brands out there making beautiful pieces for those who don't want to go au naturel on the beach this year.

Do you need a new swimsuit for summer? If so, you're in luck! There are many sustainable brands available that will provide excellent quality and comfort. Take a look at this list of sustainable swimwear brands to hit the water with this summer!

Do you want to hit the water this summer but are worried about what type of swimwear is sustainable? Well, don't worry because we have compiled a list for you!   

This list includes brands that make eco-friendly and sustainable swimwear without compromising on style. With items like bikinis or one-pieces available, there is something for everyone. So, grab your beach towel and head to the nearest pool because it's time to get wet!

It may seem strange at first that it can be hard to find good swimwear options when sustainability is your top priority, but luckily we've done all the work for you, so now all you have to do is pick which suit fits your needs best!

Summer is right around the corner, and if you're anything like me, you have been saving up for some new swimwear. 

I know that it can be hard to find sustainable swimwear brands out there. Still, with this list of sustainable swimwear brands to hit the water this summer (in no particular order), you'll be able to make an educated decision on your next purchase!

This summer, what will you wear to swim in? There are so many options to choose from these days. One thing is for sure, though. You want to be wearing something that won't have a negative impact on the environment. 

With all of the sustainable brands popping up left and right, it's hard to know which one will work best for you! We've rounded up some of our favourite sustainable swimwear brands that are perfect whether you're looking for affordable or high-end pieces. Read below and find your new go-to brand!

But what bikini or swimsuit should you wear? There are a lot of choices out there, but only some of them will help you be sustainable. 

This blog post will go over some different brands that make sustainable suits for women like yourself. You'll find everything from bikinis made with organic cotton and recycled materials to suits made with plant-based fabrics. 

So without further ado, let's get started! 

What Does Sustainable Fashion Mean And Why Is It Important?

Becoming more sustainable should be on everyone's to-do list, and our wardrobes are a great place to start. 

We know that staying away from fast fashion and being more circular with our choices is the way forward, whether that's through rental or opting for secondhand where you can. 

However, if you buy something new, you can still shop responsibly by supporting and buying from eco-friendly brands that put the environment first.

Although the world of sustainable fashion can feel confusing at times, many companies are working hard to make the industry a greener place. 

From wedding dress brands to loungewear labels and jewellery designers, there are plenty of sustainable options to choose from – it's just key to do your research properly before buying (you can read our full guide to multi-brand sustainable shopping destinations here).

This is no different when it comes to shopping for swimwear. Be sure to read up on the brand's sustainability standpoints, which materials they use and how these may impact the planet, as well as whether they support local communities or charities. 

If you're struggling to find the information, chances are the brand isn't as green as it claims to be – you can read more on understanding sustainability here.

There are plenty of labels to choose from, offering stylish and eco-friendly alternatives; plus, you can support lesser-known labels simultaneously.

What Should You Look For When Shopping Sustainable Bathing Suits?

It has been almost impossible to find sustainable swimsuits made without some synthetic fibre (if you are unfamiliar, these fibres are petrochemical-based and do not biodegrade like natural fibres). 

Micro-plastics are still an issue in ethical swimwear, BUT some brands are working not to use pure synthetics. 

These brands are taking post-consumer waste like plastic bottles and fishing nets and creating new performance fabrics that work just as well as any other bathing suit you find. 

These Are The Eco-Friendly Swimwear Fabrics To Know

ECONYL® and REPREVE are going to be the most popular swimwear fabrics you find in this post. 

Econyl is a 100% recycled and recyclable fibre and is the most common type of recycled nylon we can find. It is made from pre-consumer (fabric scraps) and post-consumer waste (fishing nets, old carpets...). 

Econyl received certification from Oeko-Tex Standard 100. It guarantees that the material does not contain any harmful products to our health. Repreve is another synthetic fabric, but a recycled polyester rather than nylon. 

It is the world's number one brand of recycled performance fibre and is made from post-consumer plastic bottles and pre-consumer waste. 

Besides these two popular choices, you can also find EcoRib (a stretch-ribbed fabric made from nylon fibre scraps) and Bio-Nylon (a biodegradable plant-based fibre).

Many brands craft swimsuits, bikinis, board shorts and trunks from recycled materials like fishing nets and plastic bottles. 

Aima Dora, for example, recycles its material cut-offs of marine plastic waste-based fabrics into new items and prioritises pre-orders to reduce stock waste. In addition, Aima Dora adopts the principles of slow fashion: producing less but better.

RubyMoon products are certified with 42% fewer carbon emissions than average high street swimwear. They're also certified Oeko-Tex and vegan, meaning no harmful chemicals are used.

RubyMoon's swimwear and the brand's activewear are made from ECONYL nylon yarn generated from fishing nets and other waste material found in our oceans. 

This waste is then made into high-quality, durable fabric. "This fabric also contains Xtra Life Lycra", says Founder Jo, "which is chlorine resistant for more than 100 hours of exposure."

How Sustainable Is Your Swimwear, Really? Two Experts Explain How To Buy An Eco-Friendly Bikini

With breathtaking beaches and sun-kissed shores aplenty, beautiful places to swim in Australia aren’t in short supply. So when it comes to choosing a cossie, it makes total sense that we should be doing our best to minimise our impact on the natural wonders of the world. 

Sustainable swimwear options have grown in number and popularity over the past few years – but what makes them "eco-friendly"?

According to swimwear experts Kay Howitt and Lynne Tramonte, the first question to ask is: "Will this fit and suit my body type?" With so many clothes being poured into landfills each year, this seems like a no-brainer but start with choosing a bikini or one piece you actually love.   

With a combined 35 years experience in the industry and as the founders of swimwear brand Monte & Lou, Howitt and Tramonte ought to know. So, we asked them to impart some words of wisdom on what makes swimwear sustainable.

1. Fabric matters

The name to know is recycled nylon. If you would like to support a more sustainable brand, check that the swimsuit (both lining and outer layer) is made from a high percentage of recycled yarn. 

Monte & Lou's collections are made with their own fabric, as well as a silky lining, both of which are made from 85% recycled nylon and elastane for that perfect fit. "Recycled nylon retains the properties of the regular nylon yarn, giving the same lifespan and quality for the swimwear," says Howitt.

Keep an eye out for OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification, which is the highest available for responsible fabric manufacturing of its kind (naturally, Monte & Lou only use a fabric of this standard).

2. Know the printing method

The pattern is the prettiest part of your swimsuit – but without a proper printer, processes can be one of the most detrimental to the environment. 

Thankfully, digital printing methods reduce water waste and eliminate the need to use harmful dyes (the method saved more than 40 billion litres of water worldwide in 2018). 

Monte & Lou’s collection uses this printing method, too, and makes its vibrant, feminine prints that much more beautiful.

3. Packaging 

If you're anything like us and you're doing (even more) shopping online during these socially distanced times, you'll notice just how much packaging is being used and likely going straight in the bin. 

Howitt and Tramonte are mindful of waste, too, and they practice what they preach right down to the last detail. For example, they introduced fully compostable and biodegradable packaging, with online orders shipped in reusable zip lock bags in biodegradable satchels.

4. Check the brand ethos

A little research on the brand will speak volumes about its approach to sustainability. “Kay and I were always mindful of the impact of swimwear manufacturing on our environment as our past experience has promoted a culture of fast fashion,” says Tramonte. 

"For our own business, we wanted to move to a more sustainable model that would reduce these long term impacts. When we started our brand, sustainability was key to our business ethos. Even a small company like ours can make a difference."

Understand the Difference between Ethical vs. Sustainable

Knowing where the material of your swimsuit comes from is important. But so is how it was made. It would make little sense to talk about a "sustainable" swimsuit if it was made under poor conditions in a sweatshop exploiting workers, right? 

The word "sustainable" doesn't necessarily take these things into account. This means that a brand could market its swimsuit as "sustainable" without guarantee acceptable conditions during the fabrication process. This is where the word ethical can be useful.

When buying sustainable swimwear, you want to know: Who made it? Under what conditions? With what material? Where in the world? These things will let you know if the brand in question is actually conscious and not just practising greenwashing to get your business.

Greenwashing: How to Spot It

The definition of greenwashing is the disinformation purposely disseminated by an organisation or company to present an environmentally responsible public image. 

This happens when a company spends more time and money in appearing sustainable to the public rather than being sustainable. 

Greenwashing can look very different depending on the brand, but here are a few things to look out for when you’re scrolling: 

  • Buzzwords like “eco”, “green”, “sustainable”, “conscious”, “natural” with little or no information to back it up. 
  • Packaging with neutral or earthy colour palettes.
  • Using the colour green in their packaging/messaging.
  • Not being clear on where materials come from.
  • Information on the product isn’t easy to find.
  • Campaigns asking consumers to “recycle and repurpose” their products instead of taking responsibility for the waste they are creating. 

These things are best shown with concrete examples. So let's take a fabulous example explained by Heidi Kalulza from @the_rogue_essentials. In a video, Heidi talks about a concrete greenwashing example from fast fashion brand H&M.

Recently, H&M has come out with what they are calling "The Conscious Collection". This collection claims to use "more sustainable" materials for 50% of each item's composition. 

This means that 50% of the garment isn't even sustainable at all. In addition, there is little to no information on what is considered "sustainable materials" on their website.

And, of course, this "conscious" collection says nothing about the conditions in which the garments were made or the overall environmental impact.

All in all, when greenwashing is present, it seems like it's more of a way of making the consumer feel better when purchasing having any positive environmental impact.  

Top Sustainable Swimwear Brands

1. Girlfriend Collective

Leading the way in ethically made swimwear is the US-based Girlfriend Collective.

Their line of fun, colour-block bikinis and swimsuits are created out of recycled fishing nets and industrial waste that's been recovered from the ocean.

The most size-inclusive of the swimwear brands on this list, Girlfriend is a fan favourite in activewear. I'm so excited to see them come out with a swimwear line! 

Their bathing suits are very basic and come in many different colours. They also give back 1% to Healthy Seas. 

Made to suit all bodies, Girlfriend Collective offer one of the largest sizes ranges around, with their designs coming in XXS – 6XL.

2. Summersalt

If you like colour-blocking and clean silhouettes, Summersalt has you covered.

Their bright and bold one-pieces and eco-friendly bikinis feature compression panelling that keeps everything smooth and comfortable for in-water activities, and the recycled polyamide fabric keeps the oceans happy.

Summersalt has so many cute styles to choose from! Their swimwear is made of a super compressive, luxurious fabric crafted from 78% Recycled Polyamide. 

This type of fabric is crafted from recycled plastics, post-consumer materials and nylon waste -like old fishing nets- pulled straight from the oceans. 

They go one step further and use all recycled materials in their packaging too.

3. Londre

With a minimum of 6 plastic bottles recycled into each swimsuit, Londre is committed to producing high-quality swimsuits with the lowest possible environmental impact.

Not only are their flattering & comfortable swimsuits created using sustainable materials, but you can also send them back at the end of their life to be recycled into new materials.

With a range of fun & flattering pieces, this is one of the best sustainable swimwear brands that you’ll love to support!

4. Wolven

To make sustainability sexy, Wolven utilises recycled plastic bottles to create its range of playful swimwear.

Not only are they literally taking the trash out of the system, but they're also partnered with Climate Neutral to offset their carbon footprint.

And you can be assured your swimwear purchase will arrive in recycled packaging too.

5. Frankies Bikinis

Frankies is a Malibu-based bikini boutique with hype-generating “drops” and trendy new styles on the reg.

Their sustainable bathing suit brand is a bit more limited as far as selection, but if you’re looking for a fun string bikini, Frankies might hit the spot.

The sustainable bikini line is made from Amni Soul Eco polyamide yarn, which makes it biodegradable too.

6. Outerknown

I didn’t forget the guys! While it’s true that most sustainable swimwear brands are geared toward women, Outerknown makes board-worthy trunks from 100% recycled materials, thanks to eco-conscious surfer dude and Outerknown founder Kelly Slater. Needless to say, they’re beach boy approved.

I didn't want to leave the men out of this list! However, Outerknown has been a trailblazer in many ways, like being the first brand to be certified by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) without ever shipping a product and being the very first brand to launch swimwear made out of ECONYL. 

Plus, they work with Fair Trade USA to ensure that garment workers are paid fairly and work in safe conditions.

7. Vitamin A

Calling all Cali girls. Vitamin A is a sustainable bikini brand that makes stylish suits geared to the Instagram crowd. Their proprietary EcoLux, EcoRib, and EcoTex suits are made in California from recycled and plant-based materials.

So many cool fabrics in this collection: EcoLux is made from recycled nylon fibres - EcoRib is a stretch-ribbed swim fabric made from nylon fibre scraps - EcoTex emits fewer greenhouse gases and conserves water + energy in the production process - BioSculpt provides an organic alternative to fossil fuel-based nylon.

Vitamin A also donates a portion of its profits to 1% For the Planet, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation and Girls Inc.

8. Prana

Made for an active, adventurous lifestyle, Prana’s yoga, climbing, travel, and eco swimwear have been sustainably made from the start.

Their fair trade swimwear is made to stay put during water-friendly activity and is made of ocean-cleaning ECONYL fabric.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly bathing suit that flatters but can stand up to your surf lessons, Prana’s the brand for you.

9. Made Trade

Made Trade curates sustainable and ethically made goods from small, independent designers and artisans. Their swim collection features cute and inclusive styling for a wide range of body types.

Most brands use ECONYL and some, like Bold Swim, use biodegradable, CO2-light nylon – which means their bikinis are compostable! Now that’s some smart product development.

10. Ookioh

Ookioh is all clean lines, classic silhouettes, and bright colours. They also use only recycled and regenerated materials in their swim fabric.

This fun-loving and travel-inspired brand advocated using their one-pieces as bodysuits and their bikinis as your all-day vacay baselayer – their fabrics are that comfy. Don’t mind if I do!

11. Solid & Striped

Solid & Striped has taken the Instagram swimwear game by storm with its flattering cuts and simple prints. Their sustainable collection offers a wide selection of cuts and colours made from recycled polyamide fabric.

Sets are mix-and-matchable to your heart’s content, so you’re free to create your perfect top-to-bottom bikini combo.

12. Patagonia

Patagonia’s the OG when it comes to ethically made swimwear. Their sporty styles feature technical fabrics made of recycled materials that perform well season after season without sacrificing style.

From a functional standpoint, this brand is probably one of the best to shop through. In addition, they create some of the best performance wear on the market, so if you love to surf, hike, boat, etc. - you'll find these swimsuits very practical! 

From rash guard tops to board shorts, they have you covered. Plus, all swimsuits are Fair Trade sewn, and they have a great collection of men’s swimsuits! 

All Patagonia recycled swimwear is also Fair Trade Certified, meaning you can feel secure in your swimsuit, physically and mentally. Namaste.

13. Fair Harbor

Fair Harbor makes stylish men’s swim trunks from recycled plastic bottles. Based on the ethos of the minimalistic Fair Harbor community on Fire Island, NY, Fair Harbor brings a northeastern aesthetic to their swim designs.

Their designs feature built-in compression underwear for comfort and mobility.

14. Reformation

The darling of eco-conscious Millennials who still want to be fashion-forward, Reformation was one of the first brands to make sustainability really cool.

Known for summery dresses, Reformation has expanded its offerings into a limited but very cute line of bikinis and one-pieces made of sustainable fabrics such as ECONYL (repurposed nylon) or recycled polyester. 

All product pages feature that item's sustainability impact and wash instructions to minimise microplastic shedding.

15. Madewell

Cult-fave brand Madewell has recently launched a collection of eco-friendly swimsuits made completely of recycled fabric. Their eye for design and playful prints extends into bikinis and one-pieces, featuring muted colours and practical cuts.

They also carry a few other sustainable swim brands, including Solid & Striped, Summersalt, Palm, Mara Hoffman, and Galamaar.

16. Hülya Swim

Hülya's motto is "cleaning the ocean one bikini at a time." They strive to make it a reality by sourcing their swim fabric from ocean debris and partnering with 1% for the Ocean and the Coral Restoration Fund.

Their bikini styles are colourful solids in sporty cuts meant to hold up to all your oceanside adventures.

17. Do Good Swimwear

Made of recycled ocean waste and designed by surfer girls, Do Good swimsuits are for girls who love the ocean. 

Their classic cuts in fun colours are meant to be mixed and matched year after year. Part of their profits goes toward ocean conservation efforts, carbon offsetting, and women's education in poorer countries.

Do Good is a small, independent operation, so their collections are limited and sell out fast.

18. The Saltwater Collective

Well-made basics in solid colours and classic silhouettes are the name of The Saltwater Collective's game. 

Made of sustainable ECONYL from abandoned nets and landfill waste, Saltwater Collective's suits are helping clean the ocean and improve body confidence.

Their flattering styles are designed to help women of all sizes feel confident in their skin.

19. Hackwith Design House

Hackwith Design House makes full-coverage look cute. Their ethical swimwear is designed with every body type in mind, and most of their styles are tied or wrapped to fit a variety of shapes and moods.

Their muted colours and quality recycled fabrics mean you can wear your suit all summer long and stay chic.

Final Thoughts

Did I list your favourite ethical swimsuit brand? I hope you found one or two new brands to shop for this season and beyond. 

Don't wait till the last minute and pick up a bargain bikini at your hotel's beachwear shop – plan for a suit you love and for the good of the planet. 

Now, let's hit the beach!

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