‘Where can I buy ethical women’s undies?’ is one of my most asked questions by Moral Fibres readers, so I thought I’d put together a roundup of some of the options out there today. Guys, don’t feel left out, I have written a men’s ethical underwear post just for you!
Please note this article was written in 2013 and is now out of date. I’m no longer updating it, but I do have a new post on women’s ethical underwear updated for 2022 that you should visit instead!
When buying clothing I would normally always suggest buying secondhand where possible. However, the thought of wearing secondhand undies makes me feel a little green (and NOT in the eco sense!). Therefore it’s one area where I always buy brand new.
The ethical undies market sells more than just large, white granny pants as you might imagine. All of the ethical underwear featured here today is fun, modern, and sexy, as well as practical.
Women’s Ethical Undies
Ciel sells the most beautiful Liberty print knickers, from £24. With a rigorous ethical policy, you can be sure that your undies are as ethical as they come.
Saumarez makes some really sexy underwear, which will challenge any preconceptions you may have of ethical underwear. This Mya bra (left, £10) is both sexy and sophisticated. Meanwhile, this Nicola bra (right, £40) is full-on fun. They also have some great knickers that are worth taking a look at.
2017 edit – Saumarez appears to have ceased trading.
Luva Huva has a great collection of fun and modern everyday ethical knickers. A triple set of knickers is currently £28, including the bottom left pair. The purple Juliet knickers are £14 and the cute frilly ones are £16. They do sell bras but they don’t seem to come in different sizes according to your back size, which for some might be a sticking point.
Who Made Your Pants
Who Made Your Pants buy their fabric from lingerie companies at the end of the season – saving the fabric from landfill. All pants are made in the UK – in Southampton – where all the makers are women who have come from troubled backgrounds. They say that the first job new employees learn is how to make the pants. They then hope that all jobs within the business can be filled by the women as they gain skills. So, if someone is interested in marketing or finance, they’ll arrange training. I think this is a fantastic business ethos.
2016 edit: sadly Who Made Your Pants have stopped trading.
Also worth mentioning is Thunderpants UK, which sells lovely big ethical undies. Thunderpants say their pants will not go up your bum, which we all appreciate in a pant!
And finally, for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers Lorna Drew nursing bras, available for around £29, are practical and ethical and expand over three cup sizes to accommodate your changing shape, making them great value too.
2017 edit – Lorna Drew appears to have ceased trading.
If you’re a DD+ cup size like me (thanks to pregnancy and breastfeeding) then I am afraid I don’t think there is such a thing as an ethical plus size bra. Despite a lot of searching, I have not found one yet. My best advice is therefore to spend as much money as you can afford on a well-made comfortable bra and get properly fitted for it by a professional to ensure the longevity of your purchase.
I buy all of mine from Marks and Spencer* because I know they fit, are supportive and comfortable, and last. In my youth, I tried cheaper bras from Topshop and inevitably they barely lasted a few months. I also memorably bought one from Primark that lasted one wear as when I washed it the underwiring popped right out! The cost per wear on that one was through the roof!