I last wrote about women’s ethical underwear back in 2013, in the infancy of Moral Fibres. Here I lamented the lack of brands, the lack of bras available that went beyond a C cup, and the lack of underwiring. I felt that ethical bra makers seemed to think that anyone interested in ethical bras must be some kind of size 6 or 8 yoga nymph that needed nothing more than two lacy triangles for support.
Recently I revisited that post and sadly found that half of the brands featured had ceased trading. It was long overdue for a look into the women’s ethical underwear realm, so here we are today. I wanted to find out if there are more brands out there. And crucially, I wanted to know if any of them had realised that people interested in ethical underwear might want a wider size range and some might want underwire.
Here’s where we are in 2021.
Whilst reading through this guide, you might want to have a look at this post 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.
All Undone make contemporary designer underwear, all of which are manufactured entirely in the UK using a blend of silk, mesh, and lace. Their bras come in back sizes 28 through to 34, and cup sizes D through to GG, with matching knickers available for the matchy-matchy look.
Anekdot makes stylish underwear designed and handmade in Berlin using materials sourced from production leftovers, end of lines, off-cuts, deadstock, and vintage trimmings.
The team hunts down fabrics from factories that are closing down, makers surpluses, production errors, or miscalculations. This means the materials used have never been worn but make for truly zero-waste ethical underwear. Underwire free, in sizes XS to XL, my only gripe is I can’t figure out how the sizing relates to UK sizes.
Ayten Gasson sells luxury silk underwear (including peace silk), all designed and handmade in the UK. The company is also dedicated to supporting as many UK companies as possible, from lace mills to printers. Sizes go up to a 36D for a full cup or non-padded underwired bras, and matching knickers are available too.
Buttress & Snatch
Buttress and Snatch burlesque and bridal lingerie is custom made, to order, in their Hackney workshop. They buy all of their materials from UK suppliers, and actively seek to minimise waste. Buttress and Snatch have made underwear for famous ladies of all shapes and sizes – Madonna, Kate Moss, Beth Ditto, Neneh Cherry, Kate Upton, and even for Marilyn Monroe (in her waxwork form).
Bra sizes range from 28D to 42E and they seem to cater to the curvier lady. As with anything custom made, prices aren’t cheap but if you are curvy and looking for something extra special then this is the place for you.
Ciel only uses environmentally and ethically produced fabrics & production throughout the design and making process of their beautiful underwear. Their fabrics include sustainable rapid growth textiles, such as lyocell and hemp, to recycled fabrics from post-production and post-consumer waste. Organic natural fibres, certified by Control Union and GOTS, are also included.
Ciel specialise in pretty Liberty print knickers but also sell soft fabric yoga bras – in sizes 8 and 10 only.
ColieCo sells very sexy lingerie, all made by hand in Portugal, using recycled, reused, and reclaimed fabrics, and using only biodegradable and recyclable packaging. Sizes for their soft and underwired bras range from 30B to 36DD. However, ColieCo does take requests for custom sizes, and prices are very reasonable for handmade underwear.
Heist Studios, a company with a strong sustainability focus, sell a range of four different styles of more inclusive sized knickers. Sizes range between size 6 and size 22. Heist also sells a non-underwired bralette, again in sizes 6 – 22. Whilst it is non-wired, they say it lifts, shapes, and supports in total comfort without the need for wire. Also, look out for ethically made shapewear.
Lara Intimates create beautiful underwear from their Soho factory. Their underwear is made from reclaimed and luxury surplus fabric from large factories or brands. Even the elastics and packaging are made in England with eco-friendly practices. Sizes range from a 28A to a 36F, and I personally love that all of the models used aren’t all size 8.
Luva Huva sells stunning ethical lingerie, handmade in the UK. They use local suppliers and producers where possible, as well as using remnants, vintage fabrics, and end-of-line fabrics and trims.
Natural fabrics, such as bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, soy, and Tencel are prioritised. And Luva Huva is always happy to create made to measure garments to fit any size, so custom sizing is always free of charge.
Martha Rose sell very sweet British made lingerie. Their underwired bras go up to 36D and their knickers go up to size 14. My one gripe is that a size 10-12 is classed as a medium and a size 12-14 is classed as large, which isn’t particularly body positive.
Neon Moon sells a range of body-positive sexy knickers and unwired bras in sizes from XS through to XXL. They say all their products are made sustainably by hand. However, there are no further details on what being made sustainably means. All of the products I clicked on do seem to be made predominantly from polyester. The last time that I looked at their website (January 2021), they have plans to increase their sizing range and launch a new underwear line. I’m marking this as one to watch!
Nui Ami doesn’t do underwire, and instead, sell beautiful ‘sleep bralettes’, which is a cross between a bra and a vest. The bralettes do go up to a more generous 38/40 E-F cup. However, they are designed for sleeping in though so I don’t know how much support one would give you. The plus point is that all their products are made in Britain using materials sourced from Europe.
Danish based Organic Basics pride themselves on selling, well, sustainable basics fairly made in Europe from GOTS certified organic cotton. They offer basic colours, timeless styles, and no seasonal collections to minimise wastage.
With a range of sizes from XS to XL, they cover a range of shapes and sizes. Prices are also very reasonable – a pack of two knickers is £27 and a bra is a reasonable £30. I own two pairs of knickers and love them – they are so soft and comfortable. Use discount code WENDYOBC to take 10% off your order.
The caveat? If you’re looking for underwire in your bra then perhaps Organic Basics isn’t the place for you. Organic Basics call underwire “annoying” (although Organic Basics was created by four men…!). Therefore I’m not too sure how much support their bras would offer anyone above a C cup.
Peau Ethique, available in the UK through ByNature, produces bras, pants, and nightwear made fairly from 100% organic cotton and silk. It’s a good stop if you are looking for something lacy and glamorous, rather than some of the more basic styles that can be available ethically.
The best bit? Peau Ethique does offer ethical underwired bras made from organic cotton, at competitive prices – all £25 or less. The downside? ByNature only offers very limited sizes, and I’ve seen nothing beyond a 32C.
People Tree has recently launched a range of organic undewear, where you’ll find non-wired bras, briefs, vests, and slips. All of their items are made with organic cotton. What’s more, the collection is verified as fair trade by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). Sizes range from size 8 -16, and prices range between £9 and £28.
Rossell makes luxury underwear made from natural fibres. All of which are made in Europe from European made materials. Their knickers are beautiful, as are the bras. On the downside, all their bras are underwire-free and only go up to a 34D.
The cheekily named Thunderpants promises the ultimate in comfortable pants that won’t go up your bum. Made from 90% organic cotton, they offer two styles – original (BIG pants) and hipster. These pants are big on comfort!
WAMA hemp underwear makes soft and stretchy women’s hipsters, bikini pants, and boy shorts. They also make non-underwired bralettes from hemp. Hemp generally requires no pesticides and very little water, and renews the soil with each growth cycle so it is more sustainable than cotton.
Inclusive sizes range from XS to 2XL, and prices are around $20 and upwards.
The downside is that WAMA ships their underwear from America. Worldwide shipping is a flat fee of $20, regardless of the order value. However, bear in mind you may have to pay a customs charge on your order if you are in the UK.
Woron* offers sustainable vegan underwear that is Oeko-Tex certified. With a range of sizing from XS through to XL, again there’s no underwire here. Sadly, this means very few styles look supportive for ladies of the larger chest. On the plus side, their knickers, offered in basic styles in 4 colourways, look very comfortable.
That’s a bit of a whistlestop tour of the women’s ethical underwear landscape in 2021. It’s a bit more exciting than the 2013 landscape, I’m sure you’ll agree. However, there’s still a long way to go in terms of inclusive sizing and affordability.
As always, if you come across any other women’s ethical underwear makers/shops then do let me know. I also aim to update this post regularly to do check-in next time you’re in the market for underwear, for new makers/shops that I’ve found!