THE DO-GOOD SWIMWEAR BRANDSMake a bigger splash this summer, with these sustainable swimwear buys
Finding a swimsuit that is both flattering and functional, that won’t go saggy and doesn’t slip off the moment you take the plunge, is no easy feat. Finding one that ticks all of those boxes and doesn’t harm the planet is even harder. Since the advent of synthetic materials in the 1930s, swimsuits have typically been made from quick-drying plastic-based materials, such as nylon and polyester, which are known for their resistance to chlorine and salt water but are derived from petroleum and non-biodegradable. Luckily, the market for sustainable swimwear is growing, with more brands developing innovative ways to make a splash with the smallest environmental impact. Here’s where to start your search this summer…
IMAGE | AYLA SWIM
“feels better on the body and doesn’t pollutE”
IMAGE | NATASHA TONIC
SWIPE LEFT ON VIRGIN PLASTICS
An increasing number of brands are adopting recycled alternatives such as Econyl, a fabric derived from plastic waste such as recovered fishing nets and old carpets, while others are forgoing plastic entirely and using natural textiles instead. “Our swimwear is made of hemp, which requires less water to produce and is better at absorbing CO2 from the environment,” says Natasha Tonic, who launched her namesake sustainable swimwear brand in 2017. “It also feels better on the body and doesn’t pollute the environment with plastic microfibres.”
BOTH IMAGES | NATASHA TONIC YING & YANG
HAND WASH IF YOU CAN
While regenerated nylon like Econyl is great for recycling the ocean dregs of plastic and industrial waste, it still sheds microfibres – tiny particles of plastic that are released into our waterways and enter our marine ecosystem – so you need to be aware of how to minimise them. “To reduce shedding microfibres and ensure your swimwear lasts longer, we always encourage our customers to hand wash their swimwear in cold water,” says Kirsty Ames, co-founder of Ayla Swim. “If you do have to put it in the washing machine you can use a Guppyfriend washing bag, which helps to catch any microfibres.”
BOTH IMAGES | AYLA SWIM
LOOK FOR LOW IMPACT DYES
Look for brands that use low impact dyes or are Oekotex® 100 Standard certified, meaning they are free of harmful and toxic chemicals. “[Our garments] are all made with low impact dyes here in Los Angeles,” says Tonic, which means they use less water and energy than conventional dyeing processes and have no heavy metal content but are prone to fading over time so avoid drying them in direct sunlight.
“Check that the pieces are made ethically, that the garment workers who make them are being paid a fair wage [and] the packaging used is recycled and recyclable, to name a few things.”
BE ALERT TO GREENWASHING
When shopping around, bear in mind that for a swimwear label to be truly green, sustainability should be incorporated into all areas of the business, not just in the yarn. “Check that the pieces are made ethically, that the garment workers who make them are being paid a fair wage [and] the packaging used is recycled and recyclable, to name a few things” says Natalie Glaze, co-founder of Stay Wild Swim. “Yes, using a recycled material that uses planet friendly fibres is important, but it’s also about making sure sustainability runs throughout the entire brand."
BOTH IMAGES | STAY WILD
IMAGE | STAY WILD
“OUR ETHOS HAS ALWAYS BEEN... BUY LESS, BUT BETTER”
“Our ethos has always been... buy less, but better”
“investing in swimwear you know you’ll wear and love for many summers to come is key to reducing your environmental impact.”
THESE IMAGES | STAY WILD
BOTH IMAGES | STAY WILD
CHOOSE SWIMWEAR THAT WILL OUTLAST SEASONS
It seems obvious but investing in swimwear you know you’ll wear and love for many summers to come is key to reducing your environmental impact. “Our ethos has always been for customers to buy less, but better,” says Glaze, whose swimwear is seasonless and produced in small runs of limited designs. “Choosing investment styles in timeless, neutral colours is also important as it means that the pieces can be worn for years to come and styled in many different ways,” advises Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-a-Porter. Natasha Tonic’s swimwear also doubles as lingerie, bodysuits or even activewear thanks to its breathable, natural hemp fibre – giving your swimwear even more mileage.
Below are some of the swimwear brands making strides in the right direction…
Inspired by the colours of the English countryside, London-based Ayla Swim’s latest collection, Jardinia, has been crafted entirely from Repreve Nylon, which is created using an energy and resource efficient process that saves the equivalent of six million gallons of gasoline each year.
Focusing on timeless, classic styles that won’t go out of fashion, Stay Wild Swim’s pieces are all made from Econyl in a small, local zero-waste factory in London. Its packaging is recycled and recyclable and even its hygiene liners, which are made using tree pulp, are compostable.
A celebrity favourite, Hunza G’s signature crinkle-stretch fabric is knitted and dyed in a mill in the Midlands, and hand-cut and finished in their London studio. Fabric offcuts are repurposed into headbands and scrunchies to minimise waste and its packaging is biodegradable, recycled and recyclable. As of last year, the company is also carbon neutral. “Our ethos is to try and keep moving towards being as sustainable as possible, and there is always room for improvement,” says founder and creative director Georgiana Huddart. From 2022, it will also start using a recycled nylon yarn.
Inspired by vintage Italian silhouettes and an antique wallpaper pattern, Rixo’s new 11-piece swimwear collection, adorned with mermaid and shell prints in a vibrant palette of jade, coral and lilac, is crafted from Q-Nova, a recycled nylon fibre obtained from regenerated raw materials. “We love the iconic elegance of a halter-neck tie and a high waisted brief,” say Rixo’s design duo Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey. “It’s a super flattering look that has the power to transcend time.”
With a focus on Scandinavian simplicity, Ohoy makes its swimwear from Econyl in a small, family-run factory in Sri Lanka. A percentage of their sales also goes to the non-profit organisation Healthy Seas in aid of volunteer divers who help recover fishing nets and marine debris before they are regenerated into textiles.
Eschewing plastic entirely, Natasha Tonic’s LA-based swimwear line is made from hemp, which is antimicrobial, UV resistant and biodegradable. Featuring ying yang motifs and tie dye prints using low-impact dyes, the brand also repurposes fabric scraps into face masks and bikini liners, and uses compostable packaging.