In the past 2-3 years there’s been a massive rise in sustainable swimwear brands. It’s now easier than ever to find something you love and you will cherish forever!
Swimwear (as well as activewear) is inherently unsustainable as the elastane and polyester use, are essentially plastic by-products. But these items have to be stretchy and they have to fit properly and wash well. There’s been a big discovery when it comes to materials, allowing us all to do better for the environment, with our picks.
The most common material used is ECONYL, which many brands use for their swimwear lines. ECONYL is an Italian-made regenerated nylon fabric; saving textiles that would normally go to the landfill or end up in the oceans. It can be made using anything from fish nets to carpets. Though nylon is still involved in the process, it’s certainly better for the environment in a recycled form than thrown away, plus it is infinitely recyclable.
Another way to be more sustainable as consumers is to keep your items as long as possible. So, washing it properly is important as salt and chlorine can degrade your swimwear faster. All the below swimwear has to be hand-washed with mild soap and cold water after every use. Air dry them flat, away from the sun and avoid getting sunscreen or oil on them.
When washed properly, the ECONYL swimwear will have a longer life than nylon counterparts.
This is one of the newer brands I’ve tried and they’ve got a great story. The founder Julia, who is Croatian and African, finds ways to connect her heritage in her designs. For instance, the prints for this collection have been inspired by Croatian costumes!
The other detail I love is that the beaded designs featured in most swimwear (seen as detachable necklaces) are hand-beaded by a social enterprise in South Africa, (called Woza Moya). This supports the local art, craft and community while providing jobs for local women.
All the swimwear is made from ECONYL, in small batches in London.
The Ibiza-based, London-created brand is gorgeous. The focus is on classic designs – hence black is seen in all styles – and the bikinis can be mixed and matched.
Sizing ranges from an XS to an XL and fits true to size. They are made using 90% ECONYL and the honeycomb-like material is extremely flattering and comfortable. I’ve worn this one-piece as a body with shorts as well and love how multi-functional it is! I also love that the name is somewhat inspired by Greece as the founder has Greek roots.
If you no longer want your swimwear (though I don’t see why) you can send it back to them for recycling and in turn, you receive a 10% discount on your next order.
A Spanish brand, Bella Sol has a couple of bikinis styles in fun prints and colours! I picked up the green one last year and love it.
The 70’s inspired ethical swimwear is hand-made in Mallorca, using ECONYL. The company has a low carbon footprint and produce swimwear in small quantities, to minimise waste. Their new collection is so cute!
Cooke & Kin
Australia is at the forefront of sustainable design. This is where I got my first sustainable bikini from a few years ago! The brand was founded by Olive Cooke – whose style is amazing.
I have one of the bikinis and one shirt (also made using sustainably sourced materials) and I’m obsessed with the shell print. The designs are sustainably and ethically produced in Australia, using materials like ECONYL and hemp.
Junk LDN stood out to me for their super cute prints (hello hearts) as well as their inclusive sizing. Their bikinis and one-pieces go from XS to 3XL. They use both ECONYL, as well as REPREVE. Another sustainable fabric, made from 100% recycled ocean plastic, aka plastic bottles etc found in the seas. They don’t have seasonal collections, as they believe in creating trendless pieces that will last you a lifetime!
Everything is created ethically and in small quantities in Bali, Indonesia in a zero-waste factory. There, local workers are paid fairly (well above the national average) and they get healthcare for themselves and their families.
Founder, Celia Harper spent most of her 20’s travelling through South East Asia, which is where she realised the terrible effects of plastic waste for the oceans. They launched during the pandemic and have since developed a big audience, especially on TikTok!
VV Conscious Swimwear
A new brand and – I believe the first brand in Greece – that creates swimwear and activewear using ECONYL. The designs are inspired by the sea and the Greek summer and created by Central Saint Martins trained, Valentina Vasilatou.
Though I don’t own any of the swimwear – yet – I love my leopard workout set. The top doubles up as a bikini actually, as they are made from the same material.
This is the only vintage-inspired bikini I own and I absolutely love the cut and the colour! Especially the way it blends in with the sea!
The company is really focusing on classic styles and promotes the idea that you can update your look, with a new belt for example, instead of buying a new bikini. Its styles are created to be multi-wear, the one-piece suits can be worn with jeans for example and some of the bikini tops double up as a gym bra.
The brand currently uses an eco sensitive fabric by EuroJersey, although not recycled, is produced using the least amount of water, energy and waste.
Which brand will you be trying this summer?