A female surfer wearing light blue ethical swimwear while approaching the beach on a sunny day with her surfboard in one hand.
April 27, 2024
 in 
Slow Fashion

18 Eco-Friendly, Ethical yet Stylish Swimwear Brands to Slip Into This Summer

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ummer being just round the corner means that you probably have swimwear on your mind. Whether you prefer a casual slow crawl in the pool, surfing, diving or a stroll on the beach, you no doubt want activewear that will enrich your experience. 

Sports clothes that stretch and move when you move, keep your skin sweat free by means of a sound wicking system and stay strong through frequent washing will elevate your confidence especially if they also look good on you. 

Technological advances in manufacture of activewear means that you can also enjoy features like UV and microbial protection. To get this amazing swimwear to you, a large number of sports brands engage in questionable, unethical manufacturing practices and use unsustainable materials resulting in environmental degradation.

There is a growing consciousness of sustainability when it comes to fashion that has pushed more sportswear brands to consider sustainable sports gear that is produced using ethical methods.

Table of  Contents

What is Eco-Friendly Swimwear?

Eco-friendly swimwear is made from recycled fabrics that contribute to reducing damage to the environment. These recycled fabrics are made from materials like dumped fishing nets and plant-based materials. 

Recycling makes use of discarded materials which would otherwise end up in oceans and landfills disrupting ecosystems. Sports brands that manufacture eco-friendly swimwear apply the principles of closed-loop production to minimize or eliminate waste while promoting conservation of resources. Materials are kept within the production loop even after they are used. 

At the beginning of the closed-loop cycle is acquisition of organic or non-toxic materials that are likely to have minimal environmental impact. These materials are then manufactured into activewear using processes that generate low levels of waste with leftover fabric being reused. The activewear resulting from this process will be collected and recycled into new sports gear. These energy efficient processes greatly reduce damage to the environment.

What are the most eco-friendly swimsuit fabrics? 

Shelves of brightly colored eco-friendly swimsuit fabrics discussed in this section

If the thought of enjoying your summer water sport activities in high performance swimwear that will not contribute to the destruction of the ocean that you want to enjoy the activities in, then your first step will be to get to know which fabrics you should be looking for that have respectable eco-friendly credentials. 

Following is a list of fabrics that will guarantee you sustainable swimwear without hurting our planet:

Econyl

Econyl is a fiber made by recycling industrial plastic waste and old ocean fishing nets. It is remarkably similar to nylon and is sometimes referred to as recycled nylon. The process used to manufacture it uses fewer resources and produces much less waste than nylon. Since Econyl is a recycled fabric it helps reduce the waste that goes to the ocean and landfills by repurposing waste materials.

Benefits

  • Econyl is not toxic and compares well to nylon which is toxic. 
  • It can be recycled several times and still remain strong.
  • This fabric has a silky texture and feels gentle on the skin.
  • It retains shape after many uses.
  • The fabric is breathable, moisture-wicking and dries quickly.
  • Econyl is not only odor-resistant but also boasts anti-microbial qualities.

It is, however, noteworthy that Econyl produces microplastics when washed. These could cause damage when they end up in the ocean.  Using a washing bag to prevent the microplastics from escaping is your best bet for not harming the planet while keeping your favorite Econyl activewear garment clean.

Organic Cotton

Cotton is one of the better known natural fibers. A lot of water and chemicals go into its production meaning significant environmental impact. Organic cotton on the other hand is produced without the use of pesticides and is therefore beneficial to the environment.

Benefits

  • No pesticides or fertilizers are used in its production meaning the environment is not damaged.
  • Organic cotton boasts a major advantage for those with sensitive skin - it is hypoallergenic and generally non-toxic. It has a soft feel which is gentle to the skin as well as low friction meaning there will be no chafing.
  • It is breathable and moisture-wicking.
  • It is durable and as an added bonus if you do decide to dispose of it, you can do so without guilt because it is biodegradable.

Recycled Polyester

Recycled Polyester is created from recycled plastic bottles or industrial waste. Since no new materials are utilized, waste going to landfills is  minimized. It does not carry a huge price-tag and is therefore popular with those in search of eco-friendly activewear on a budget.

Benefits

  • Recycled Polyester is moisture-wicking and quick drying.
  • It is flexible with good stretch and anti-microbial and UV protection.
  • It is non-toxic and recyclable.
  • This lightweight fabric is durable and can withstand frequent washing.

As with Econyl, recycled polyester also produces microplastics when washed and a washing bag is the best way to prevent these from damaging the environment.

Tencell/Lyocell

Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fiber. It is a form of regenerated rayon made by dissolving wood pulp normally of the eucalyptus tree.  The pulp is dissolved in a non-toxic solvent. Lyocell is also known as Tencell which is one of premier brands of the fabric.

Benefits

  • Derived from organic wood sources in sustainably managed forests.
  • Biodegradable and recyclable.
  • Involves a closed-loop system, minimizing water and energy and using non-toxic materials.
  • Flexible, lightweight and gentle on skin.
  • Does not cling and has a cooling effect.
  • It has antibacterial odor preventing properties.

What is Ethical Swimwear?

Chances are a large percentage of swimwear you will see on the beach, in shops and around pools are made from synthetic fiber like polyester or spandex which is undoubtedly popular for its water-repellant and elastic properties. 

These fibers are made from plastic sources which are major sources of pollution of the sea. Plastic is not biodegradable and can hang around landfills for hundreds of years and also clog up the ocean. 

Activewear made from plastic derived fiber produces microplastics when washed. These microplastics then travel to the sea and add on to environmental havoc. 

It is also likely that companies that manufacture products that add to pollution and environmental degradation are not practicing ethical methods of production. They are probably using sweatshops or even dabbling in child labour and do not have any recycling policy.  

Enter ethical swimwear: sports gear that is manufactured using fabrics with a low environmental impact in ethical conditions. 

The factories in which these sustainable garments are produced give workers fair wages and ensure good working conditions. They also do not get involved in illegal practices like child labour and will most likely also have a sound environmental conservation policy that takes into account recycling and reduction of carbon footprint.

Why Should You Choose Eco-Friendly Swimwear?

The main reason why you should choose eco-friendly swimwear is because it has a low environmental impact. Being good to the planet is something worth doing for yourself as well as for future generations.  The other big reason why you should eco-friendly swimwear is that the ethical practices used to produce these garments ensure that people working in the factories that make them enjoy good humane working conditions and get fair wages. 

Eco-friendly swimwear is also made from flexible breathable fabrics with features like moisture-wicking and UV protection.  Some eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton can also be hypoallergenic meaning that those with sensitive skins need not miss out on the fun. 

If you are still looking for more reasons to choose eco-friendly swimwear you might want to consider the face that many sports brands that produce sustainable activewear have after sales services that will appeal to your ethos - they use recyclable packaging or offer to take back your garments after you have used them and recycle them. The environment benefits and you continue enjoying your swim with a clean conscience.

Is Eco-Friendly Swimwear As Durable?

Fabrics used to make eco-friendly swimwear like Econyl and recycled polyester are durable. They can withstand frequent washing and retain their shape. In most cases you can use your eco-friendly garment for a long time knowing you are helping to make the environment better while looking stylish.

Does Eco-Friendly Swimwear Fit as Well as Other Swimwear?

Eco-friendly swimwear designers and manufacturers who are in the eco-friendly community can produce garments that fit people of all shapes and sizes. Many sports brands are able to come up with designs that are customized to fit different body types and you will find that there is indeed an eco-friendly that will suit you.

Additionally, when you take a look through the benefits of the top fabrics used to make eco-friendly swimwear, you will find out that being stretchy, flexible and generally easy to work with are some of their main features.

How Do You Know If Your Swimwear is Eco-Friendly and Ethical?

A clothing rack filled with various swimsuits provoking the question of which choice is eco-friendly.

This is where you will have to apply your love for the planet and “get your hands dirty” doing some research. To be considered sustainable your garment will not only have to be eco-friendly, it must be ethically produced too. 

Using eco-friendly fabrics in a factory with bad working conditions and low wages and vice-versa is not sustainable. Both the human and the conservation aspects have to be present. 

Is It Eco-Friendly?

To determine if your swim gear is eco-friendly you will have to know what kind of fabric it is made from. The label will most likely have “sustainable” on it. There should be some indication that the fabric is recycled or possibly made from virgin sources using non-toxic additions. Be cautious about brands that claim to be sustainable and do not clarify the kinds of fabrics that have been used.

Is It Ethical?

To answer this question, you have to get curious about the business decisions that your sports brand of choice makes. Do these decisions contribute to caring for our planet or does the company want to jump on the sustainable bandwagon for marketing purposes without putting in any actual work? 

Activewear producers who pack the garment you have asked for in something recyclable are definitely making a statement about caring for our planet as are those who are committed to supporting environmental activities and causes.

How Do You Make Your Eco-Friendly and Ethical Swimwear Last and Limit Waste? 

You can make your eco-friendly garments last for a long time if you take good care of your garment. Hand washing using eco-friendly detergent is the first step. 

Eco-friendly fabrics like Econyl and recycled polyester will produce microplastics during washing and you can prevent this by using a washing bag such as the Gruppyfriend to ensure the microplastics do not go into the environment and end up in the sea.  

Additionally, do not wring or twist your garment.  Avoid the use of fabric conditioners or any other harsh chemicals. Also, do not hang your swimsuit to dry in direct sunlight or rough surfaces. 

18 Stylish Eco-Friendly and Ethical swimwear Brands for All Body Types

The growing movement towards greening our environment and our lives in general have led to a preference for slow fashion and as a result a mushrooming of eco-friendly and ethical swimwear brands. Shopping for swimwear will therefore be quite a task for the discerning swimmer hoping to pick the best option available. For that reason, here is our pick of the best stylish, ethical and eco-friendly swimwear brands:

1. Andie

Andie is a woman-owned brand that focuses on making modern swimsuits in a variety styles and sizes to fit and flatter all body types. A customer with bust size 36F/G said that “they felt supported” and that they liked that they did not have to “struggle with sun screening” on their back because the swimsuit offered full coverage."

Mostly good for: Swimwear for all occasions. Personalized online style and fit consultations

Sizes covered: XXS to XXXL

Sustainability stats: Recycled nylon and poly used. Ethical production and recycled packaging.

Price range: $52 to $128

Types of products: Wide range of one pieces and separates including maternity options.

2. Asket

If you are in the market for sustainable men’s swimwear, Asket is the place to go. They offer classic mens swim shorts in four colors. Their swim trunks come in a variety of sizes and are made with 100% recycled materials. One customer expressed appreciation for the versatility of the shorts in a review on their website by remarking “...a piece you can wear everyday. Not just for swimming…”

Mostly good for: Men’s swimwear.

Sizes covered: XS to XXL

Sustainability stats: Supply chain traceability and transparency. 100% recycled materials used.

Price range: $90 for all sizes of their swim shorts

Types of products:Classic mens swim shorts. Assortment of sustainable mens garments.

3. Boden

Boden is a brand from the UK that produces a wide range of sustainable swimsuit styles from recycled polyester and plastics. A satisfied customer on their website seemed pleased with the fit and said “true to size” and also “flattering design.” They ship globally.

Mostly good for: Stunning, stylish, durable swimwear, 365 day return policy.

Sizes covered: XS to XL

Sustainability stats: Recycled materials.

Price range: $40 to $125

Types of products: Tankini tops, one pieces and bikinis.

4. Bold Swim

Bold Swim makes bold swimwear and as stated on their website, their brand is inclusive and sustainably designed with fit, versatility and luxury in mind. One buyer raved about the texture and cut of their swimwear saying “It is the softest swimwear ever… and the cut is perfect!”

Mostly good for: Bold, colorful swimwear.

Sizes covered: S to XXL

Sustainability stats: Non-toxic, biodegradable, UV protected eco-nylon.

Price range: $69 to $260

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

5. Faithfull The Brand

Faithfull  is an Indonesian brand with a strong focus on ethical production. 

Mostly good for: Individually hand-dyed swimwear

Sizes covered: XS to XXL

Sustainability stats: Regenerated nylon used. Ethical production in local factories. Biodegradable packaging.

Price range: $95 to $200

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

6. Fisch

Fisch is one of the pioneers when it comes to use of Econyl for sustainable swimwear.  The plan is to come up with timeless handmade designs while cleaning up the ocean. 

Mostly good for: Brightly coloured eighties-inspired swimwear.

Sizes covered: XS to XXL

Sustainability stats: Partners with Healthy Seas to remove ghost fishing nets from oceans. Econyl fabric used.

Price range: $130 to $340

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

7. Galamaar

Galamaar promises that their sustainable swimsuits made from Econyl will last a very long time if their care guidelines are followed. A reviewer on their website raved about their bottoms saying that they offered moderate coverage, were fashion forward and exactly what they were hoping for!

Mostly good for: Retro prints

Sizes covered: XS to XL

Sustainability stats: Recycled Econyl. Family owned, fair-wage operator in L.A.

Price range: $120 to $280

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets

8. Hunza G

Hunza G is another Uk sustainable swimwear brand. They produce one-size swimwear with zero deadstock or wastage. 

Mostly good for: Signature crinkle swimwear.

Sizes covered: One-size swimwear.

Sustainability stats: Recycled, recyclable, biodegradable poly bags. DHL Go-Green for transit.

Price range: $200 to $250

Types of products: One piece, bikini sets, headbands, scrunchies (from excess fabric to reduce wastage).

9. Jade Swim

Jade Swim is a black-owned L. A. based sustainable swimwear brand which uses Econyl to create garments in solid colors.  

Mostly good for: Solid colored swimwear that can double up as layering pieces.

Sizes covered: XS to XXXL

Sustainability stats: Regenerated nylon, Oeko-Tex certified. No pattern printing to reduce water usage.Female run company involved in charity work to support young women.

Price range: $83 to $240

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

10. Matteu

Matteau is an Australian swimwear brand. It uses fabric made from regenerative, organic and recycled materials to make sustainable activewear.

Mostly good for: Swimwear to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes.

Sizes covered: XS to XXXL

Sustainability stats: Uses regenerative, organic and recycled materials.

Price range: $145 to $320

Types of products:One pieces and bikini sets.

11. Patagonia 

Patagonia produces active and reversible swimwear from recycled nylon and recycled polyester. They are also involved in environmental and human rights campaigns. Activewear for both men and women is on offer. This sports brand is hitting all the right notes if this review from their website is anything to go by: ”Every item I have ever purchased… has been first rate; quality and designs are industry leading. And their commitment to our planet is impressive. I LOVE this company!”

Mostly good for: Performance activewear in reversible options.

Sizes covered: XXS to XL

Sustainability stats: Recycled nylon and recycled polyester are used. Committed to environmentalism and ethical production.

Price range: $65 to $140

Types of products: Rash guard tops. Surf shorts. Fair Trade sewn swimsuits. Wide collection of men’s swimwear.

12. Peony

Peony is an Australian brand named after the peony bloom that signals the beginning of summer. Their swimwear is crafted from recycled polyester using ecologically safe methods. Their style is durable classic shapes in soft pastels.  The stock mainly womens styles in a wide range of sizes.  

Mostly good for: Luxury swimwear

Sizes covered: XS to XL

Sustainability stats: Factories certified by Social Accountability International. Traceable supply chain.

Price range: $105 to $290

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

13. Summersalt

Summersalt is known for making sustainable swimwear that fits perfectly through a patented process.  The sports brand uses extra-strength textiles to ensure their activewear is durable and sustainable. 

Mostly good for: Perfectly fitting color-blocked swimwear.

Sizes covered: XS to 2X

Sustainability stats: Recycled polyamide

Price range: $45 to $95

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

14. Tomboy X

Tomboy X creates sustainable gender-neutral swimwear from recycled polyester. Their garments boast UPF50+ protection and are made to be easy to clean and quick-drying. A happy customer wrote on their website “love how I look in the set” and “the material is so soft and stretchy” - clearly in love with their purchase. 

Mostly good for: Gender neutral swimwear.

Sizes covered: XS to 6X

Sustainability stats: Recycled polyester is used. Focus is on ethical manufacturing and sustainable sourcing.

Price range: $49 to $100

Types of products: Uni suits, board shorts, swim tanks.

15. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a sustainable activewear brand based in California. They produce  garments using their signature materials EcoLux, EcoRib and EcoTex which are made from recycled nylon and plant based fibers which as it seems has fans as is evident in reviews from their online shop.  One customer called the garment they purchased “My favorite suit” and also raved about the fit saying “... fits beautifully and is super flattering”  

Mostly good for: Flattering fit. Quality products.

Sizes covered: XS to XXL

Sustainability stats: Recycled nylon fiber and nylon fiber scraps are used. Recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Percentage of profits go to environmental causes.

Price range: $150 to $235

Types of products: Mix and match bikinis inspired by ‘70s beach glamor. 

16. Wolven

Wolven makes sustainable swimwear in gorgeous patterns using textiles made from 80% recycled plastic bottles with a bit of spandex for extra stretch. This review from their website sums everything up beautifully: “Zephyr Criss Cross Top and Black Onyx LeggingsI LOVE my top, I wear it regularly, on both the patterned side and the black side…”

Mostly good for: Colorful collections of many different styles in vibrant prints

Sizes covered: XS to XL

Sustainability stats: Uses recycled plastic bottles and biodegradable packaging.

Price range: $72 to $160

Types of products: Reversible one pieces and an assortment of bikini sets - also reversible.

17. You Swim

You Swim swimwear brand crafts garments to cater for all shapes and sizes. Ethically woven nylon is used and plans are on to use more recycled plastic in the future. From the reviews on their website it is clear that their garments are long lasting. A happy customer who stated on the You Swim website that they swim a lot, also mentioned that the two pairs they owned for three years were still in good condition.

Mostly good for: Swimwear in simple styles and vibrant colors,

Sizes covered: US 2-14/AUS 6-18

Sustainability stats: Sustainably sourced nylon certified plastic-negative.

Price range: $142

Types of products: One pieces and bikini sets.

18. Outerknown

Outerknown is a sports brand that sources materials from facilities that use renewable energy. They use recycled poly and their products offer UPF 30-50. They create high quality products with minimal environmental impact.

Mostly good for: Surfing activewear. Men’s swimwear.

Sizes covered: XS to XXL

Sustainability stats: The first brand to launch swimwear made out of Econyl.Collaboration with Fair Trade USA to ensure ethical practices in manufacturing.

Price range: $58 to $145

Types of products: Beach towels, surf suits, crop top bikini tops and surf shorts.

Let's Preserve Paradise

The movement towards slow-fashion and closed-loop manufacturing is very beneficial to the environment and is the best way for us to preserve resources, ensure a greener planet and still enjoy sporting activities in high performing activewear. Using sustainable clothes that have been ethically manufactured is the way to go for a greener healthier planet.

FAQs about Eco-Friendly Swimwear

Can swimwear be eco-friendly?

Swimwear can be crafted using recycled materials, treated with non-toxic materials in factories that pay fair wages, provide good conditions and keep their operations legal in order to be considered eco-friendly.

What is the most sustainable fabric for swimwear?

The most sustainable fabrics for swimwear are those that are made from recycled materials and/or plant sources with the least environmental impact. It adds on to their value if they are manufactured in ethical conditions.

How is sustainable swimwear made?

Sustainable swimwear is made by crafting fabric that has been made from recycled materials and plant sources. Extra features can be added to make the fabric more flexible or even anti-bacterial.

Is Berlook actually sustainable?

Yes. Berlook is a brand that uses certified eco-friendly material in zero-waste facilities and processes to manufacture good quality sustainable activewear.  The products are packaged in recyclable materials that have low environmental impact.