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Fashion, Life & Style

The Best Ethical Swimwear Brands for 2021

ethical swimwear

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.

Batoko

bakoto swimsuits ethical

Budget: ££

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.

Davy J

ethical swimwear uk brands

Budget: £££

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.

Finisterre

finisterre ethical swimwear

Budget: £

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!

Frugi

frugi maternity tankini

Budget: £

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!

Organic Basics

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.

Riz

ethical swimwear for men

Budget: £££

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

rubymoon swimsuit

Budget: ££

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.

Seasoon

seasoon sustainable swimsuit

Budget: ££

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!

Stitson Studio

swimwear made from recycled plastic

Budget: ££

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.

And if you plan on enjoying some sun then here’s a post on eco-friendly sunscreen that you might find useful!  I’ve also put a women’s ethical clothing guide, as well as a men’s guide

Fashion, Life & Style

Who Made My Clothes?

fashion revolution day
fashion revolution day

Who Made My Clothes image via People Tree

Today marks the tragic 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh.  1,134 people died in the collapse, largely women and children, who were at the time hard at work in overcrowded and poor conditions making clothing for Western fast fashion retailers.

The Problem With Fast Fashion

The issue of clothing is a difficult one and a disjointed one.  In the West we don’t see sweatshops where women and children work long hours in poor conditions to make our clothes.  We just see the £3 t-shirts in the shops and fill our baskets without thinking about how a £3 t-shirt can possibly be made for £3, and the actions that take place along the supply chain to make that £3 top.  Rana Plaza, and other factories like it, are so far removed from home that we simply cannot imagine what it’s like for the workers of these factories or indeed who might be making our clothes.

Who Made My Clothes?

In response to the Rana Plaza tragedy, and to help bridge this gap between the clothes in our shops and the people who make them, several ethical fashion advocates came together last year and created the first Fashion Revolution Day.  This sought to remember the dead and injured, as well as demanding transparency from clothes manufacturers about “who made my clothes”.

Making A Difference With Ethical Retailers

Since Moral Fibres started in February 2013 I’ve written a lot about ethical fashion.  One of the retailers I’ve featured heavily since the start of the site is People Tree*.

I first shopped with People Tree back in 2005. And over the last 10 years it’s a site I’ve turned to time and time again when I want to buy something new that I can be sure of its ethical credentials.  

People Tree are so out and out proud of their ethical credentials that they’ve put together this “I Made Your Clothes” guide on the people that make the clothes for People Tree.  This really helps to bridge that all-important gap between the garment and the people that make the garments.

people tree label

People Tree recently sent me their Juliette dress to model. It’s fast becoming one of my favourites.  They clearly state on the website and on the label that it’s made of 100% organic cotton and that it’s produced by CAOS. This is an enterprise based in South India which adheres to strict ethical standards.

who made my clothes

One of my biggest hopes for the near future is that all retailers can be like People Tree. That all retailers can have such high levels of transparency when it comes to who makes your clothes.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if one day we didn’t have to differentiate particular clothes as being “ethical clothing”? If we didn’t have to keep asking retailers “who made my clothes”?

How To Take Part

The good news is you can be part of this change through Fashion Revolution Day.  It’s really easy to take part through social media. This will help encourage retailers to have greater levels of accountability.  Here’s what you can do today:

  1. Turn your item of clothing inside out to reveal the label
  2. Take a photo of yourself wearing the item inside out
  3. Upload the photo to the social media platform of your choice
  4. Tag the fashion brand you’re wearing and ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? to help demand greater accountability from the company in question and#FashRev.  You can also tag 3 friends to join in on the fun and help spread the message further!
  5. Keep track of all the goings on via Fashion Revolution

Disclosure: People Tree sent me a dress to model but all words and opinions are my own.