Whether you’re posting up at your local pool or taking an end-of-summer beach vacay, it’s probably time for a new swimsuit.
Halt! Put down the car keys!
While the price and ease of a Target two-piece may sound appealing at first, I’m a firm believer in getting what you pay for.
How long did your last fast fashion suit last you? I thought so. This summer, make an investment in the vacations of summer future and get yourself some durable, flattering, ethically made swimwear.
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Sustainable Swimwear Explained
Hold up. What is ethical swimwear? What’s wrong with regular bikinis?
Well, the biggie is that most swimsuits are made from plastic – specifically, nylon and polyester.
Aside from stretching out and pilling pretty quickly (especially in 100% polyester suits), these fabrics shed plastic microfibers when washed, which will eventually make their way into our oceans. No bueno.
Many sustainable swimwear brands use recycled post-consumer products like fishing nets and plastic bottles to make their swim fabric. And while microplastics are unavoidable unless you get a suit made of natural fibers, most ethical swimsuit brands include a care guide that walks you through how to wash your suits to prevent washing microplastics down your drain.
And then there’s the production side of things. Fast fashion companies often make their swimsuits as quickly and cheaply as possible, without regard for worker conditions, production runoff, or the quality of the final product.
Ethical bathing suits are made in responsible factories that minimize pollution in their process and pay their workers fairly.
A few years back, it was quite the challenge to find cute, well-fitting, sustainable and ethical swimwear brands. Patagonia lead the charge, and other conscientious brands have either evolved or sprung up to fill the gap in the affordable, sustainable swimwear market.
So how is the average eco-minded gal meant to navigate all the options?
Not to fear, I’ve rounded up a list of my 15 favorite sustainable swim brands to help you make a splash this summer (and the next, and the next…you get it) guilt-free!
If you like color-blocking and clean silhouettes, Summersalt has you covered. Their bright and bold one-pieces and bikinis feature compression paneling that keeps everything smooth and comfortable for in-water activities, and the recycled polyamide fabric keeps the oceans happy.
Frankies is a Malibu-based bikini boutique with hype-generating “drops” and trendy new styles on the reg. Their sustainable collection is a bit more limited as far as selection, but if you’re looking for an all-black sustainable bikini, Frankies might hit the spot.
The sustainable line is made from Amni Soul Eco polyamide yarn, which makes it biodegradable.
I didn’t forget the guys! While it’s true that most sustainable swimwear brands are geared toward women, Outerknown makes board-worthy trunks from 100% recycled materials, thanks to eco-conscious surfer dude and Outerknown founder Kelly Slater. Needless to say, they’re beach boy approved.
My pick: Nomadic Volley in Jade
Calling all Cali girls. Vitamin A is a sustainable bikini brand that makes stylish suits geared to the Instagram crowd. Their proprietary EcoLux, EcoRib, and EcoTex suits are made in California from recycled and plant-based materials.
Vitamin A also donates a portion of its profits to 1% For the Planet, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation and Girls Inc.
Made for an active, adventurous lifestyle, Prana’s yoga, climbing, travel, and swimwear have been sustainably made from the start. Their suits and bikinis are made to stay put during water-friendly activity and made of ocean-cleaning ECONYL fabric.
If you’re looking for an ethical bathing suit that flatters but can stand up to your surf lessons, Prana’s the brand for you.
Made Trade curates sustainable and ethically made goods from small, independent designers and artisans. Their swim collection features cute and inclusive styling for a wide range of body types.
Most brands use ECONYL and some, like Bold Swim, use biodegradable, CO2-light nylon – which means their bikinis are compostable! Now that’s some smart product development.
My pick: Bold Swim Haute Halter Set in Red
Ookioh is all clean lines, classic silhouettes, and bright colors. They also use only recycled and regenerated materials in their swim fabric.
This fun-loving and travel-inspired brand advocated using their one-pieces as bodysuits and their bikinis as your all-day vacay baselayer – their fabrics are that comfy. Don’t mind if I do!
Solid & Striped has taken the Instagram swimwear game by storm with their flattering cuts and simple prints. Their sustainable collection offers a wide selection of cuts and colors made from recycled polyamide fabric.
Sets are mix-and-matchable to your heart’s content, so you’re free to create your perfect top-to-bottom bikini combo.
The darling of eco-conscious Millennials who still want to be fashion-forward, Reformation was one of the first brands to make sustainability really cool.
Known for summery dresses, Reformation has expanded its offerings into a limited, but very cute, line of bikinis and one-pieces made of sustainable fabrics such as ECONYL (repurposed nylon) or recycled polyester. All product pages feature that item’s sustainability impact and wash instructions to minimize microplastic shedding.
My pick: Swell One Piece in Hot Pink
N.B – Reformation has recently come under fire for racism against employees. We’ve included a bonus brand (Hackwith Design House) below if you’d rather shop elsewhere.
Cult-fave brand Madewell has recently launched a collection of eco-friendly swimwear made completely of recycled fabric. Their eye for design and playful prints extends into bikinis and one pieces, featuring muted colors and practical cuts.
They also carry a few other sustainable swim brands, including Solid & Striped, Summersalt, Palm, Mara Hoffman, and Galamaar.
Hülya’s motto is “cleaning the ocean one bikini at a time.” They strive to make it a reality by sourcing their swim fabric from ocean debris, and by partnering with 1% for the Ocean and the Coral Restoration Fund.
Their bikini styles are colorful solids in sporty cuts meant to hold up to all your oceanside adventures.
Patagonia’s the OG when it comes to ethically made swimwear. Their sporty styles feature technical fabrics made of recycled materials that perform well season after season without sacrificing style.
All Patagonia swimwear is also Fair Trade Certified, meaning you can feel secure in your swimsuit, physically and mentally. Namaste.
Made of recycled ocean waste and designed by surfer girls, Do Good swimsuits are for girls who love the ocean. Their classic cuts in fun colors are meant to be mixed and matched year after year, and part of their profits go toward ocean conservation efforts, carbon offsetting, and women’s education in poorer countries.
Do Good is a small, independent operation, so their collections are limited and sell out fast.
My pick: Tia Reversible One Piece
Well-made basics in solid colors and classic silhouettes is the name of The Saltwater Collective’s game. Made of sustainable ECONYL from abandoned nets and landfill waste, Saltwater Collective’s suits are helping clean the ocean and improve body confidence.
Their flattering styles are designed to help women of all sizes feel confident in their skin.
Fair Harbor makes stylish men’s swim trunks from recycled plastic bottles. Based on the ethos of the minimalistic Fair Harbor community on Fire Island, NY, Fair Harbor brings a northeastern aesthetic to their swim designs.
Their designs feature built-in compression underwear for comfort and mobility.
Hackwith Design House makes full-coverage look cute. Their ethical swimwear is designed with every body type in mind and most of their styles are tied or wrapped to fit a variety of shapes and moods.
Their muted colors and quality recycled fabrics mean you can wear your suit all summer long and stay chic.
Did I list your favorite ethical swimsuit brand? I hope you found one or two new brands to shop this season and beyond. Don’t wait till the last minute and pick up a bargain bikini at your hotel’s beachwear shop—plan ahead for a suit you love, and for the good of the planet. Now, let’s hit the beach!