Ethical and sustainable swimwear – a full guide to the best eco (& chic) brands

Dive deep – nothing says summer quite like the swimwear, and these are eco too.

As the weather gets warmer, naturally you want to spend more time outside or head to your long-awaited summer holiday. Yet, now more than ever, the idea of a staycation seems equally acceptable.

Technically, you don’t need a beach to wear beachwear. Make the most of your time outside and enjoy the British summer in the garden or balcony, even your local park. Or maybe you are lucky enough to live right next to the beautiful coastline which makes things, well, a lot more bearable.

What is eco swimwear?

Whether you prefer a two-piece, a classic swimsuit or a tankini, flattering and comfortable fit is something we all appreciate. Along with nice fabric and stylish design.

Still, most of the available bikinis and swimsuits these days are made of not so eco-friendly materials such as polyester, which is essentially plastic. Luckily, there are brands thinking ahead of timedesigning beachwear made of recycled or innovative fabrics in a sustainable way.

So if you are looking for another way to be more conscious in your wardrobe, ethical and eco swimwear should make it to your list, especially your summer on. 

Here are the sustainable swim brands you need to know about: 

Ayla Swim

WHY WE LOVE IT: The brand stands out with unique prints that are created using hand-painted watercolours by Eleni Malami. Each swimwear is ethically produced in small boutique factories in Bali using eco fabrics. 

FABRICS: ECONYL® regenerated nylon and REPREVE® fabric created from 100% recycled materials.

BEST FOR: Romantic and feminine eco swim. 

PRICE RANGE: From £60.

Available here.

Natasha Tonić

WHY WE LOVE IT: Even though we love recycled materials and finding new purpose out of the old, polyester is still a non-biodegradable fabric. That made this LA brand look for alternatives which they found in organic hemp. They make vegan and eco swimwear using natural hemp fibre which is antimicrobial, UV resistant and super durable, all locally in their LA factory.

FABRIC: Hemp. 

BEST FOR: Completely natural swimwear.

PRICE: From £70.

Available here and here.

Bower

WHY WE LOVE IT: Launched in early 2015, this sustainable brand ethically produces all of their swimwear in Italy. The brand has been shortlisted for Sustainable Brand of the Year in the Draper’s Sustainable Fashion Awards.

FABRIC: ECONYL®, a yarn created from post-consumer plastic waste including discarded fishing nets.

BEST FOR: Feminine design and statement prints. 

PRICE RANGE: From £75. 

Available here.

Mitra

WHY WE LOVE IT: This Bristol-based sustainable and ethical swimwear brand makes each piece handmade to order using recycled fabrics as part of their slow fashion, planet-friendly practices.

FABRIC: ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon fibre made from recycled waste.

BEST FOR: Affordable and simple design that can be worn in multiple ways.

PRICE RANGE: From £20. 

Available here.

Liliput & Felix

WHY WE LOVE IT: From ethical production in small quantities to eco fabrics and packaging, this luxury swimwear label is all about sustainability. Lilliput & Felix has also been awarded Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark for their commitment to social and environmental sustainability.

FABRIC: ECONYL®, regenerated nylon fabric. 

BEST FOR: Elegant and feminine but playful swimwear. 

PRICE RANGE: From £95.

Available here.

Talia Collins

WHY WE LOVE IT: A former Vogue Paris stylist, launched her eponymous brand in 2018 with the ideas of creating timeless and personalisable eco swimwear. Each piece can be personalised with custom monogram embroidery to make it extra special. 

FABRIC: ECONYL®, regenerated nylon fibre.

BEST FOR: Timeless classic designs and colours. 

PRICE RANGE: From £70. 

Available here.

Peony 

WHY WE LOVE IT: Peony is an independent, family-run business that created swimwear from recycled and sustainable fabrics. Consciousness is at the core of their brand, not just through the choice of fabrics but the packaging and manufacturing too. 

FABRICS: Linen, REPREVE®, a recycled fibre made from recycled plastic bottles, and ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon made from ocean waste.

BEST FOR: Super romantic eco swimwear. 

PRICE RANGE: From £59

Available at Net-a-porter, Farfetch, Selfridges and Harrods.

Tide + Seek

WHY WE LOVE IT: Sustainably and handmade using Repreve fabric in Bali, the brand focuses on comfortable cut, modern styles and bright, youthful prints.

FABRIC: REPREVE®, is a polyester fibre made of 100% recycled plastic, mostly of post-consumer plastic bottles. It’s chlorine resistant with a UV protection of factor 50.

BEST FOR: Affordable trendy pieces made of eco fabric. 

PRICE RANGE: From £32.

Available here.

Marble Swimwear

WHY WE LOVE IT: Designed in London and produced in small batches in Bali, Marble is a swimwear brand that won’t cost the Earth or your wallet. 

FABRICS: ECONYL®, fibre made from recycled plastics and LYCRA® which proved to be 5 times more durable when exposed to chlorine and UV than other swimwear fabrics.

BEST FOR: Classic but trendy designs that are affordable too.

PRICE RANGE: From £30.

Available here.

Stay Wild Swim

WHY WE LOVE IT: This premium and sustainable brand makes swimwear from regenerated ocean plastic, in a small local factory in London. Passionate about water sport, founders Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk, design functional but flattering sports style pieces.

FABRIC: ECONYL®, regenerated nylon made from ocean waste.

BEST FOR: Minimalist sports style swimwear.

PRICE RANGE: From £50.

Available here and here.

Tucca Swim

WHY WE LOVE IT: Tucca Swim was established in 2018 by sisters Helaina and Chloe Thomas. All the pieces are ethically made in London, but what makes them extra special is the fact that they are reversible too. All we all love options.  

FABRIC: ECONYL®, regenerated recycled nylon made from waste. 

BEST FOR: Reversible design mixed with bright colours and prints.

PRICE RANGE: From £49. 

Available here.

Batoko

WHY WE LOVE IT: Batoko’s design might be simple but their ecologically digital prints are far from it. Everything is consciously produced in small batches to minimise the waste.

FABRIC: 100% recycled plastic.

BEST FOR: Unique and playful prints no one else will be wearing on the beach.

PRICE RANGE: Batoko only does one-piece swimwear which is priced at £50. 

Available here.

 

How do I care for my swimwear?

To preserve its longevity, proper garment care makes all the difference. Here are a few steps that will make your swimwear look new, even when it’s not. 

  1. Wash your swimwear by hand in cold water; use natural detergent only, no fabric softeners. Don’t soak. 
  2. Rinse with clean water after use in the pool or the sea, but don’t squeeze the excess water out by twisting it, as this may break the fibres and cause your swimsuit to lose shape.
  3. Avoid drying in direct sunlight.
  4. Don’t iron your swim, just lay it flat on a drying rack in the shade.
  5. Best to avoid rough surfaces too, as they can damage your swimwear by pulling the fibres out, as well as sunscreen and oils as some products can stain your swimwear.

Bottom line

Even though most of these brands use recycled plastic materials as an alternative to the usual polyester and nylon (Natasha Tonić well done for sticking out), their practices are also ethical and sustainable which makes a big difference. So you won’t really go wrong with any of these because each contribution to an eco brand is a small step forward to the eco planet. Well done!

 

Editor’s note: Feature image via Ayla, Batako, Marble Swimwear, Peony, Talia Collins and Tucca Swim by FTG Magazine.