The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Swimwear

The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Swimwear

The ultimate guide to ethical and sustainable swimwear is here! If you're looking for a new bikini or tankini set, this post has all the information you need. 

We'll talk to some of our favourite companies who make beautiful pieces with conscious designs in mind. And we'll also offer up some tips on how to responsibly recycle your old suit when it's time for an upgrade.

If you're looking to buy a swimsuit this summer, but don't want to contribute to the negative impacts of cheap disposable fashion, then read on for tips and tricks! The sustainable swimwear industry is booming-but what does that mean? 

It means that there are plenty of eco-friendly options out there. So no matter your style or budget, you'll be able to find the perfect suit for your next beach day. Whether you want something sporty, chic or bohemian - we got it all covered in our guide!

If you're looking for a new swimsuit, you may be wondering how to find one that is both ethical and sustainable. This blog post will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your next purchase! 

We've all been there: it's summertime, and you want to buy a new bathing suit. So you go into the store but can't find anything that doesn't make you feel like your money will waste. And the prices! 

The cheapest suits are over $20, and some of them are well over $100! So what do we do? We keep looking for something that will work out best for us financially and environmentally. This guide aims to help people find ethical and sustainable swimwear without breaking their budget or harming the environment in any way.

Did you know that there are so many different types of swimwear to choose from? One brand might be more eco-friendly than another but not have the style you want. The ultimate guide will help you find the best ethical and sustainable swimwear for your lifestyle! 

Many people are unaware that the swimwear industry is one of the most unethical and unsustainable industries globally. 

The majority of swimsuits are made with synthetic materials, which can cause health issues. This blog post will provide you with all of your questions about ethical and sustainable swimwear answered!

What types of fabric should I avoid? Why? What if I want to buy a suit anyway? What brands should I look for instead? How do I know what type suits me best? Where can I find these suits online or in stores near me?" These are just some of the many questions this blog post will answer. 

Let's get started!

Common sustainability problems in swimwear

For those of us who live in the sun year-round, perhaps we can get carried away (myself included), filling our drawers with the newest statement trend or print. But, unfortunately, aside from succumbing to a fast fashion cycle, swimwear also presents another problem for sustainability: plastic. 

Synthetic fabrics—like nylon, polyester, and spandex—are perfectly suited for swimwear because they wick moisture and stretch across the body, reducing friction in the water. They are also versatile and inexpensive to make, so the fashion industry relies on them heavily: not just for swimwear but also activewear, outerwear, and other cheap fast fashion garments. 

This is a major problem because plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it never decomposes, which is an issue from the production phase through to the release of microfibres when washing, all the way to dispose of the garment at the end of its life. 

Luckily the best way to look after your swimwear—gentle hand washing—is the best way to reduce microfibre releases, too. It also makes the most sense since swimwear is most often worn for a very short period and should rarely require a machine wash!

Eco-friendly bikini materials

Thankfully, there are alternatives to these polluting plastics most swimwear is made from. 

Eco-friendly materials such as ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, use synthetic waste like industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from oceans, then recycle and regenerate them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon. 

Even better, other swimwear brands are meeting this need, innovating in their capacity and creating their luxe materials from recycled nylon fibres or other natural alternatives.

Brands That Are Making The Biggest Splash In Sustainable Bikinis

1. Elle Evans

Rated: Great

Two for the price of one? I’m there! Elle Evans designs, prints, and creates its beautiful pieces in Melbourne, Australia. Overwhelmed by the impact of the industry they had worked in and loved for years, the team at Elle Evans decided they’d be doing things a bit differently. 

Since day one, the brand has been using the luxurious Vita ECONYL®—regenerated nylon made from 100% nylon waste from oceans and landfills. 

Attention to detail, innovative cuts, and its signature nature-inspired prints come together to create magic in every collection, including sustainable bikinis galore! Find Elle Evans swimwear range in sizes XS to 3XL.

2. Underprotection

Rated: Good

Underprotection is a Danish brand combining ethics and aesthetics, creating underwear, loungewear, and swimwear from sustainable materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton. 

All of its packaging, paper, and polybags are either recycled or biodegradable. In addition, it only works with certified factories as it believes "fair working conditions and fair wages are human rights". 

Underprotection exists to celebrate women of all kinds and sizes, and its goal is to make them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible. The Adrianna Bikini Bra is made in soft recycled polyester fabric with a ribbed texture and a fresh lime colour. 

The bra has removable padding and two adjustable straps, so it stays up nicely. You can find the full range in XS-XL.

3. Loop Swim

Rated: Good

Loop Swim is a Chinese brand that transforms post-consumer use plastic bottles into phenomenal REPREVE UP50+ sun protective swimwear for men, women, and kids. Find most items in sizes XS to XL.

4. Organic Basics

Rated: Great

Organic Basics offers high-quality, sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. The Denmark-based brand puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything—it only chooses fabrics that care for our environment and only partners with factories that care about their impact. 

The newly-launched swimwear range is made from recycled plastic from oceans and landfills, like this cute Re-Swim bikini top! Organic Basics clothes are available in sizes XS-XL.

5. allSisters

Rated: Good

Never sacrifice sexy for sustainability again! Created for all types of goddesses, this two-tone black and white sports-inspired ethical bikini with thick shoulder straps, square neckline, and longline shape offers complete coverage, support, and comfort. 

Consciously created using luxury recycled fabrics that carry the OEKO-TEX® certificate, wear it to the beach, gym, or even as a fashion statement. 

The Barcelona based brand also raises money for biodiversity protecting non-profit Surfers Against Sewage, tackling plastic pollution and working to keep our oceans clean. Items go from XS to XL.

6. NIKIN

Rated: Good

If you're the kind of person, who likes to wear their morals, look no further. Not only is a tree planted every time you purchase a NIKIN product, but you also get to show your true pride! Made in Europe, the comfortable Treekini Top is made of recycled marine and industrial plastic! Products are available in sizes XS-XL.

7. The Nude Label

Rated: Good

The Nude Label curates comfy cotton underwear and swimwear for women and men that feel as good as they look. We love The Nude Label's newest addition: made from regenerated nylon, this supportive bikini top has adjustable shoulder straps, a soft underbust band, and breathable, quick-drying fabric with UV protection. Find the full range in sizes XS to L.

8. Stay Wild

Rated: Good

If you’re looking to add to your capsule wardrobe, you’ve come to the right place. Stay Wild is a London-based swim brand founded by Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk. 

Designed to be flattering, feminine, and functional, the brand's capsule collection features a sports-luxe style with a thick strapped bikini top and a high waist bottom for a firm fit and feel. 

The slightly cheeky cut means you get all the coverage with plenty of confidence! The collections are available in sizes 6 to 18.

9. la fille d’O

Rated: Good

La fille d'O, or "the daughter of O," is the voice of a generation. In 2003, designer Murielle Scherre created this lingerie and swam brand with the vision of being a role model. 

The brand produces long-lasting products, adhering to the principles of slow fashion and manufactures locally. Designed as swimwear and lingerie, CHANGES offers the best support and look in or out of the water. Tops are available in sizes 1-9 (A-G) and bottoms in 1-6 (XS-3XL).

10. Natasha Tonic

Rated: Good

Swimwear made out of hemp? Yes, please. For decades, swimsuits have been made out of polyester, which is non-biodegradable and bad for the skin. Natasha Tonic's hemp swimwear fabric is based around a unique, natural hemp fibre that is antimicrobial, UV resistant, durable, and a healthier choice for your skin and our oceans. 

Even better, each piece is slightly different since it is printed by hand, allowing for each sustainable bikini to be tailored for the most gorgeous you! Find their collections in sizes XS to L.

11. Sage Larock

Rated: Good

Made in-house by a small team in LA, sustainable luxury brand Sage Larock produces timeless swimwear that will turn heads. 

Its stunning pieces are made from an Italian recycled plastic fabric that is high-quality and long-lasting—and a percentage of profits from each sale goes directly to marine conservation non-profits! Find most products in size XS to L.

12. Vitamin A

Rated: Great

Sexy, classy, and good for the environment? You got it. Made locally in California, Vitamin A has revolutionised sustainable swimwear. Founder Amahlia Stevens realised the need for creating swimwear out of recycled plastics. 

However, when she began to research the options, she was told by fabric suppliers that there was “no market” for swimwear made from recycled fibres—so she decided to design the fabric herself, working with the top mills in Italy, Canada, and California to create 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! Swimwear comes in sizes XS to XL.

13. Patagonia

Rated: Good

Patagonia is a brand that truly lives and breathes the great outdoors. 

Offered in a range of colours, this reversible sustainable bikini surf top features ruching at the bust and elegant straps in the back, ensuring a cute look with active support all day. 

Patagonia has strong labour rights and uses recycled, rather than virgin, polyester. It has also committed to reducing its energy use and emissions. You can find the full range in XS to XL.

14. Conscious Swimwear

Rated: Good

All the trends and no nasties. Every Conscious Swimwear piece is cut and sewn by hand in the brand’s Lisbon atelier. As such, all of its models are limited due to fabric availability. 

Shipped in sustainable packaging and made of 78% recycled plastic from ocean waste, Conscious Swimwear raises the bar in sustainable swimwear. Find most products in S to L.

15. Bower

Rated: Good

Launched in early 2015, Bower is a sustainable swimwear and resort wear brand. Bower aims to create design-led swimwear with a focus on the now with a nod to the past. 

The designs utilise luxury Italian fabrics, partnered with complex construction and considered details. With components sourced from Italy and France, the final product is constructed at Italy's small, specialised factory. 

Along with the brand's commitment to the Earth, Bower has dedicated 1% of all donations to the Healthy Seas initiative. Find the swimwear in sizes XS to XL.

16. Finisterre

Rated: Good

Born from the needs of hardy British surfers, Finisterre designs functional and sustainable products for those that share our love of the sea. 

The Blasius sustainable bikini set is specifically designed for active use, whether paddle boarding or going out for a surf. 

Fashioned with a secure racerback design and supported moulded cups, this set, made from premium ECONYL® recycled yarn, is sure to keep you mobile and comfortable in any wave. You can find the full range in sizes 8 to 16.

17. Spell

Rated: Good

Spell is a modern-bohemian fashion brand inspired by far-off places, vintage treasures, and childhood memories. 

The brand’s adorable Posy Knot Cheeky Pant in peach is a feminine, medium coverage swim style with a dash of seaside sass. 

Pair with the Posy Knot Tri Top for a joyful and easy-wear sustainable swim set that is perfect for both ocean dwellers and banana lounge devotees. Find most products in XS to XL.

18. LONDRĖ

Rated: Good

LONDRĖ is a Canadian minimalist, sustainable swimwear brand making pieces from recycled plastic bottles. So far, LONDRĖ has recycled 90,000 plastic bottles from the streets and beaches of Taiwan! 

All water used in the brand's process can be reused and recycled to create the smallest impact possible. 

The brand is also creating positive change in our global community, using the business to raise awareness and funds for women's health and environmental initiatives, donating over $10,000 to organisations like Amazon Watch and the Yellow Hammer Fund. Swoon! Most pieces come in sizes XS to 2XL.

19. Mara Hoffman

Rated: Good

Create to empower, transform with care. With a focus on mindful and conscious practices, Mara Hoffman uses eco-friendly materials, including GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled nylon, and recycled polyester, so you can feel good about every piece you purchase. 

This gorgeous printed high-rise bikini set is no exception. Pair with the balconette-style Lua bikini top for moderate coverage and a stunning look that will surely turn heads. Swimwear comes in sizes XS to XL.

20. BAYTHE

Rated: Good

BAYTHE is a premium swimwear-meets-activewear label designed in Bondi Beach. It provides women of all shapes and sizes the confidence, comfort, and understated sexiness they've always wanted in a swimsuit. 

This active bikini crop is an easy summer staple made to be multi-functional and move with you throughout your day. 

Despite being designed without wires, this bra top still provides full bust support and is quick-drying, so you can also wear it as a bra for yoga, Pilates, barre, and walking! 

You can find the full range in XS to L.

Tips and Tricks to Find the Best Swimsuit for Your Body Type

1. Best Swimsuits for Large Busts

For a large bust, it's about having proper support and coverage. One suit that works is straight across cut at the top of your swimsuit with wide-set straps. Also, try a bikini top with an underwire and a thick chest band for extra support.

As someone with a naturally large bust, it’s very frustrating to go bathing suit shopping because swimwear rarely offers coverage and never has enough support. 

While I've found cute wired swimwear brands that specialise in DD+ cup sizing, it's challenging to find stylish options that look less like a bra and more like a regular bikini top. 

Enter Maxswim by Everything but Water. They have the best non-wired full coverage bikinis I’ve ever found! Plus, they’re actually cute and sexy, too!

It's a new collection, so they don't have many options, but it's worth every bit of the (expensive) price for me to find a bikini that makes me feel good instead of feeling embarrassed and self-conscious on the beach. 

I bought two colours in each of the two sets, and these are now my go-to bathing suit brand of choice!  

2. Best Swimsuits for Small Bust

For a smaller bust, halter tops can help accentuate the bust, as do triangle tops, but also details like ruffles and a wrap style look fab. 

A lightly padded bra suit and underwire suit tops give you believable cleavage and enhance what you have as well. Final tip: avoid a pancake bandeau top with hardware in the front or a twist tie front. 

The advantage of a smaller bust is the ability to wear a one-shoulder suit and not bulge out in the wrong places! This sleek monokini has cutouts that are subtle and adjustable ties at the shoulder and waist, so you can mould it as you wish. 

If you want more bust support, there are push up cups, but you can also remove them. Described as soft and breathable, you'll feel confident strutting down the beach in this number! Available in sizes S-XL.

One way to enhance your top is with frills or bows, and this floral bikini is beyond cute! The ribbed detail on the bottoms and the flirty ruffles add chic to this, yet it’s also stretchy and comfortable.

You'll have some lift up top with padded cups, but they are removable too. So perfect for a summer getaway or lounging by the pool! Grab this in other colours and sizes XS-XXL.

A wrap top is another way to accentuate your top if you have a small bust. This tankini suit with a twist front has sturdy adjustable straps and a padded bra for extra lift. 

The ruching is not just sleek but is also slimming, while the bottoms are discreet, covering enough without taking away from a woman's curves. So cute! Also available in other colours and sizes S-XXL.

3. Best Swimsuits for Big Hips

In this case, the hips are generally wider than the waist and bust. The best swimsuits for pear shapes have some fun details at the top, like ruffles or have an attention-grabbing pattern, and keep bottoms simple in colour and more high cut. These selections might inspire you! 

To look fuller up top, try this flounce halter suit. The double ruffle is adorable, and the high waisted bottoms are flattering and draw more attention to the waist, not the hip area. A gorgeous choice for long beach days!

You can pick this up in other pretty colours and sizes S-XXL.

A criss-cross suit like this cute pick can help balance a pear shape between the top and bottom. 

The ruched waistband accentuates as well without looking or feeling "stuffed in". It's also semi-backless, so it has a subtle sexiness! It comes in other colours and in sizes M-3XL.

This fashionable swimsuit is from a popular brand for swimwear. The ruffle off-shoulder look is another way to draw the eye upwards, and wearers say the style is really flattering for a lady's neckline, and it hugs the body nicely!

It comes in other gorgeous beach colours, so choose what suits you. You can get this in sizes 0-16 on Amazon as well, and it's available at Nordstrom; sizes 0-16 and in plus sizes 16W-20W.

Tip: Bandeau tops will make the bust seem wider. If you’re a pear shape and want to imitate an hourglass shape, choose a bandeau top with ruffles or a busy detail. 

4. Best Swimsuits to Hide Tummy

When the waist is wider than your hips and equal to or nearly as wide as your bust, try to choose suits with shirred panels, details such as a colourful top, and dark or solid colours at the bottom. Perhaps these selections may catch your eye!

To create a more vertical line, accentuate the bust and lengthen the body, a deep neckline like this adorable one-piece suit will do the trick! 

I own this bathing suit myself and can say with confidence it's very flattering! It has a high cut, a padded bra and is generally comfy! I bought the blue colour, but it comes in a ton of colours and in sizes XS-XXL.

A high waisted bikini with ruching can accentuate and disguise the tummy, smoothing it out. The halter has a padded, wireless bra that’s soft and is flattering. You can also adjust the straps for total comfort. 

This chic suit comes in sizes M-3XL and in other colours and styles as well!

Another way to create a more curvaceous looking figure is to seek out bathing suits with a pattern or texture that gathers at the side and keeps the main focus on the upper waistline. 

This pretty Miraclesuit piece has an ocean-like swirl pattern that evokes the soothing sound of waves. The draping definitely "melts" extra at the midsection, and the cut will elongate legs. There are softly padded cups that offer modest coverage. 

Comes in sizes 8-18.

5. Best Swimsuits for a Compact Figure

If you’re generally slim all around, the key is to create an hourglass shape with cutouts or donning bright prints to give the impression of a fuller figure. These cute ideas are must-haves!

If you want to make your hips stand out, cutouts in swim bottoms can give the illusion of broadening, and a halter top can help give more oomph at the top. Hence, this cute two-piece could be perfect!

The bottoms are low rise, and you can remove the pads from the top if you wish. It comes in sizes S-XL and other shades. 

A monokini like this gorgeous pick creates an hourglass shape, while the warp detail near the bust adds fullness up top. In addition, this suit is fully lined; you can adjust the straps and remove the padding. 

So pretty! You can also grab this in a ton of pretty colours and in sizes S-XL.

If you want a more curvy shape, try a busy print. It immediately adds dimension and some fun to your beach excursions. This tropical print suit has a flattering halter and an adjustable strap that goes across the back, and it's described as soft and comfy. 

Comes in other patterns equally as fun and in sizes 0-14.

6. Best Swimsuits for Hourglass Shapes

Your bust and hips are about the same size width for an hourglass shape, but your waist is smaller. Generally, the idea is to flatter your curves as much as possible! 

This Tempt Me bikini is perfect for hourglass figured ladies due to the halter top that supports the top nicely, and the bottoms are slightly higher cut yet where it sits hugs curves beautifully. 

Many users say this bathing suit makes them feel like a pin-up girl! It comes in other whimsical tropical prints and in sizes XS-XXL.

To make the most of an hourglass shape, a suit with a plunging neckline and side cutouts emphasise your best assets!  This gorgeous bathing suit is a must-have for sure. The high neck hook closure provides support where it matters, and the deep V-neck plunge is tasteful. 

This is totally stylish for the beach, poolside, or even for dinner out by a seaside restaurant. Available in sizes L-22 Plus but also has other colours to choose from.

To give a spotlight to the waist, triangle tops do the trick! This adorable striped two-piece suit is lined, has padded cups that are removable, and is soft and comfy!

It comes in other striped colours and in sizes XS-XXL. 

7. Best Swimsuits for Long Torso

Thank goodness that if you have lengthened torso, there are now more long sizes available to women. However, one trick that does help is high cut bikini bottoms will make your leg look longer. 

Readers highly recommend J.Crew, and this ruched swimsuit has long sizes for lengthened torsos, in sizes 0-16—yay!

The ruching detail helps to hide the tummy, while the wide straps are elegant. The suit is fully lined, and you can also remove the bra padding if you wish. It's available in classic sizes 00-24 as well!

Talk about super chic! If you have a long torso, you can walk around in confidence in this leopard print wrap suit. The V-neck and tie wrap is endlessly flattering. And bonus—this suit is made from recycled fibres!

You can grab this in sizes S-XL Long and XXS-XXL in regular sizes right here!

Read more

What Is Sustainable Swimwear And Why Does It Matter?

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