Looking for ethical swimwear? Why not try some of my favourite sustainable and eco-friendly brands available in the UK right now, catering for both men and women.
I last bought a swimsuit six years ago. Since then my body shape has changed a bit (or maybe my swimsuit has just shrunk…!). As such, I’m now on the hunt for some ethical swimwear. A reader also recently asked me to help her find some affordable ethical swimwear too, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and write a blog post about it!
The good news is that there are quite a few sustainable and ethical swimwear or UK-made swimwear companies out there. Below I have seven UK brands to look out for, updated for 2021.
Ethical Swimwear Made From Recycled Plastic?
The brands I’ve focused on all make their swimwear from recycled plastic. This is because it’s simply not possible to make swimwear from 100% natural fabrics, and still have the properties that we expect swimwear to have.
Conventional swimwear is made from virgin plastics, such as nylon. The most common fabric used by sustainable swimwear brands is ECONYL®. This is an innovative fabric that directly tackles plastic pollution in the ocean by taking nylon waste from carpet offcuts and discarded fishing nets. This waste is then turned into a high-performance swimwear fibre. Therefore, ECONYL® is a great sustainable choice to conventional nylon, which is a virgin plastic made from fossil fuels.
If you want further help on fabric choice, then I have this really handy guide on what to look for when shopping for ethical clothing. It covers topics such as what fabrics to look for and handily explains what all the different eco-labels mean.
Guide to Ethical Swimwear Brands
Be cool at the pool with my top sustainable swimwear picks for both women and men.
The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+
In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.
Caters for: UK sizes 6 – 20
Batoko is a small independent swimwear brand based on the North West coast of England. They create ethically made quality swimsuits that are fun, flattering and comfortable, and made from recycled plastic.
Bakoto has consciously kept its swimwear collection small and simple. This allows them to focus on the individuality and longevity of each design. It also ensures that they never over-produce; an industry problem that’s having dire effects on the environment in terms of waste.
Caters for: UK sizes 6 -18
Davy J’s swimsuits for women are ethically made using sustainable materials made from ocean waste. I will say that their sustainable swimsuits are definitely an investment purchase. However, they are designed with longevity in mind. Their double-lined, high elastane composition provides extra strength, durability, and shape, making it good value in the long run if you have the cash to spare up front.
Davy J is aiming to build a closed-loop resource system. When your swimsuit does eventually reach the end of its life return the suit to them, and they will find a way to reuse the resources.
Caters for: UK sizes 8 – 16
Finisterre makes swimwear for men and women made from ECONYL®. And as well as the fabric considerations, Finisterre swimwear is ethically produced. Finisterre is a certified B-Corp, which independently verifies that Finisterre is committed to prioritising the environment and society in the way they do business. Finisterre is also committed to full transparency in their supply chain, and holding their partners to the same high standards they expect of themselves.
What I also love is that Finisterre has also carefully considered its packaging. In fact, In terms of packaging, all of Finisterre’s packaging materials are compostable or recyclable. And, to add, to that, Finisterre also offers a repair service. So much ethical swimwear love here!
Caters for: UK sizes 8 – 18
If you are looking for ethical maternity swimwear then you are in luck! Frugi, the ethical kids clothing specialist, have a small range of maternity swimwear made from Econyl*. Frugi are known for their fun and bright prints, and this extends to their adult range too, so don’t expect muted colourways!
Budget: £ – ££
Caters for: UK sizes XS – XL
Danish-based Organic Basics*, the ethical underwear specialists, have, in 2021, launched their Re-Swim line. These are timeless, classic swimwear pieces, made with recycled plastic that has been regenerated from industrial plastic, fabric scraps, plastic ocean waste, and ghost-nets. From bikini tops and bottoms to one-piece swimsuits, all ethically made in Europe, their collection ticks a lot of boxes.
Use discount code WENDYOBC to take 10% off your order at Organic Basics.
Caters for: UK sizes S – XXL
Riz make sustainable swim shorts for men. With the ambitious aim of creating the most beautiful and sustainable swim shorts in the world, I have to say their shorts have been made with every environmental consideration in mind.
As such, all of Riz’s shorts are ethically made in Europe in small batches. Longevity is key, with the shorts being triple stitched for durability. What’s more, every pair of shorts is crafted from 100% recycled and recyclable fabric, which are printed in the UK using earth friendly inks. The shorts are even packaged in recycled and recyclable plastic-free materials.
And even better, their pioneering Rizcycle scheme allows you to return your old shorts in return for a discount off your next pair.
RubyMoon Ethical Swimwear
Caters for: UK sizes 6 – 20
RubyMoon* produce ethical swimwear for the active lifestyle.
RubyMoon doesn’t use petroleum to make their swimwear. Instead, of virgin plastic in the form of synthetics, they use waste nylon and plastics. And their swimwear is designed to last longer, meaning less waste. Lastly, RubyMoon ensures that all products are manufactured in an ethical and transparent supply chain that means that no one is exploited.
What’s more, 100% of RubyMoon’s profits are donated in the form of microloans to women entrepreneurs in the developing world.
Caters for: one size
Seasoon’s* contemporary swimwear collection is designed in London and made ethically in Europe using Italian fabrics. Their unique eco-friendly swimsuits are handmade by skilled seamstresses using recycled material. I would say their design-led swimwear is suited more for beach lounging and paddling, rather than sports based swimming. Something to bear in mind!
Caters for: UK sizes 8 – 16
Stitson Studio’s* ethical swimwear for women is handmade in the UK. This supports the local economy whilst keeping reducing the carbon footprint of their collection. Made from recycled fabrics, their small but perfectly formed range is simply and sustainably chic.
How to Wash Swimsuits Sustainably
Even fabrics made from recycled plastic shed microplastics when washed. Ideally, gently hand wash your swimsuit where possible for the lowest environmental impact. However, if you need to wash your swimwear in the washing machine I’d recommend the use of a Guppyfriend microplastic filter* to help prevent microplastics getting into the waterway.
What Else Can I Do?
Most of the ethical swimwear I found from the ethical retailers tends to retail at £70 and upwards. This is completely understandable because of the fabrics involved and the labour and skill involved. However, at this cost level, it’s not particularly inclusive. If your budget allows it then I’d recommend looking at the offerings from these retailers, but if your budget doesn’t allow then it’s ok to shop elsewhere.
However, to make the ethical fashion movement more inclusive to all, then it’s important to take action beyond your wallet.
To help make ethical fashion more affordable, things that you can do to help engender change include asking High St brands who make their clothes (see Fashion Revolution for their great resources). This will help press for transparency and sustainability on the High Street, making ethical clothing much more accessible for all.
You can also support Clean Clothes Campaign’s Pay Up drive, whereby they are pressing the global fashion brands that have refused to pay for over $16 billion worth of goods ordered since the outbreak of COVID-19. Big brands cancelled all orders placed before the crisis – some of which had already been shipped. This financially devastated factories since they had already had to pay for fabric and other production costs for these orders. Many were left with no money to pay workers’ wages.
Representation in Ethical Clothing
Sustainable fashion also lacks diverse representation. Particularly in terms of race, gender fluidity, and of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there is also a lack of a range of sizes which leaves a large swath of potential would-be customers behind. Asking your favourite ethical clothing brands to make their clothes in a wider range of sizes is a great first step, as brands won’t consider making their clothes in wider size ranges until there is consumer demand. Asking brands to use more diverse models, beyond a size 8 able-bodied 20 something white woman) is another way to help broaden the appeal of ethical fashion.
Have you found any other ethical swimwear makers out there? Do share in the comments below.