Swimwear is usually the least of the problems of fashion-concerned vegans, as it pretty much never contains any animal-derived fibres. Phew, right? Well, not really: ethical swimwear should still be a concern for all of us. Many swimsuits and bikinis are dangerous for the environment – especially for the oceans, ironically – as they are made from plastic-derived fabrics. Materials such as nylon, polyester, and other petroleum-based materials release microplastic particles into the water when being washed, ending up in the waterways and harming wildlife on an enormous scale. Sadly, only 10% of all plastic-derived garments produced every year is recycled.
Read More: Plastic-Free Vegan Fashion
Swimsuits are also often part of big brands’ summer ranges, which are produced in vast quantities, which leads to an extensive use of toxic chemical and even more water pollution. As these garments are only designed to last for a season, they commonly break down easily, leaving shoppers with the need for new swimwear come next summer.
In a time where buying to last is imperative to the well-being of the planet, it’s more important than ever that we are informed about the practices behind the making of our clothes, including carefree holiday essentials such as swimwear. Here are our five favourite ethically made, planet-conscious beachwear brands.
Ethically made in sunny California, Seea offers a modern take on vintage shapes and silhouettes. Perfect for the gal who wants fuller coverage and more of a modest silhouette without sacrificing fit or style, Seea offers one-pieces, bikinis, and surf suits in beautiful vintage-inspired prints and colors. Their commitment to sustainability is evident in the variety of materials they utilise, which includes: Repreve , a recycled polyester made from plastic bottles; Econyl, regenerated nylon fiber made from ghost fishing nets and other fabric waster; and Recover, a fabric made from upcycled cotton and polyester. They’re also one of the few companies to use eco-friendly Yulex, a neoprene alternative made from natural rubber made from FSC certified sustainable plantations. Transparency is one of Seea’s key values.
With its high-neck and braided belt, we love the playful elegance of the Karina one-piece.
Timeless silhouettes in rich, earthen color palettes, Hakea swim offers stylish, modern swimwear that is ethically made in small batches in Bali. Sustainability is a key value to their entire business model, which is why small-scale production is their focus. By producing collections on an inspiration basis only and producing custom-orders cut to the piece, they reduce waste by minimising surplus fabric or inventory. Crafted from Econyl, a high-quality nylon made from recycled fishing nets and fabric mill scraps, Hakea suits will stand the test of time.
Look stylish while staying safe in the sun in their one-of-a-kind hand-painted surf suits – it’s like wearing a piece of art!
This Fair-Trade brand was founded by sisters Claire and Alix Mougenot, who wanted to provide swimwear options with a concern for the environment in its DNA, resulting in a chic, eco-conscious range. The brand’s designs are made from a blend of 7% elastane and 93% ccotton grown organically in Peru, without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or GMOs. The cotton used by the brand is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard as organic, meaning that its production processes tread as lightly as they can on the planet. The brand also pays attention workers’ rights by guaranteeing fair working conditions and fair wages.
The brand’s one-shoulder Luna swimsuit is a romantic, retro-influenced design that will be the perfect holiday companion for any beach-themed getaway.
Perhaps one of the most innovative among swimsuit brands in the market, Natasha Tonić opts for materials most of us don’t think of when we think of swimwear. Made in the USA from organic hemp, which is naturally anti-microbial , UV resistant, and quick-drying, all of Natasha Tonić’s pieces are seasonless and make packing light for vacation a breeze. From the pool to the beach to brunch to virtually any activity under the sun, these suits are truly versatile and this is owed to the fact that they don’t “look” like traditional swimwear. We love that there is finally a brand who is eschewing the use of poly-based fabrics all together. Who made the rule that swimwear had to be made from nylon? Alternatives exist and Natasha Tonić proves that they can be comfortable, stylish and functional.
Their one-pieces look just a great on the beach as they do paired with your favorite denim for a night out.
Brought to you by the women behind the explosively popular “Future is Female” tee, Hirsuit is a sustainable and ethically made adrogynous swimwear design made for a wide variety of body shapes and gender expressions. Inspired by early twentieth century swim costumes, wrestling uniforms, and modern dance leotards, Hirsuit swimsuits are made in NYC from 82% recycled materials and are reversible.
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Header photo by Tai’s Captures via Unsplash. Other photos via respective brands.