Looking for ethical swimwear? Me too, my friend, me too!
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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!
There are a few ethical swimwear or UK-made swimwear companies out there. Below I have seven UK brands to look out for, updated for 2021.
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.
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. It’s a great sustainable choice to conventional nylon, which is a virgin plastic made from fossil fuels.
I have this handy guide on what to look for when shopping for ethical clothing. It covers topics such as what fabrics to look for and explains what all the different eco-labels mean.
Guide to Ethical Swimwear Brands
The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+
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 their swimwear collection small and simple. This allows them to focus on the individuality and longevity of each design. It also ensures that we 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®. This is an innovative fabric that directly tackles plastic pollution in the ocean by taking nylon waste from carpet offcuts and discarded fishing nets and turning it into a high-performance swimwear fibre.
As well as the fabric considerations, Finisterre swimwear is ethically produced. Finisterre is committed to full transparency in their supply chain, and holding their partners to the same high standards they expect of themselves.
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.
Caters for: UK sizes 6 – 20
RubyMoon produce ethical swimwear for the active lifestyle.
RubyMoon don’t use petroleum to make our swimwear. Instead, of virgin plastic in the form of synthetics, they use waste nylon and plastics – turning pollution into something beautiful. 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 swimswear is suited more for beach lounging and paddling, rather than sports based swimming.
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 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 from 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*.
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. If your budget allows it then I’d recommend looking at the offerings from these retailers.
However, to make the ethical fashion movement more inclusive to all, then it’s important to take action beyond your wallet.
Sustainable fashion 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, and a lack of variety of styles, as well as issues of affordability. These issues are leaving a large swath of potential would-be customers behind.
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. You can also support brands that align with your values. This means purchasing from them if you are able to, but can also mean liking, commenting, and sharing their social media posts to help boost their exposure.
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. I’ve even got guides to ethical underwear and ethical socks, for a complete ethical wardrobe!