Ethical + Sustainable Swim Brands for Summer 2019
Last Summer I bought 6 bikinis for $60 from a Chinese company called Romwe. I was very broke (when am I not), I hadn’t bought a new bikini in a few years, and I wanted more than just a few pieces.
Flash forward to Spring 2019, I’ve decided I want to make more conscious and educated decisions when buying clothing and swim. I never realized the amount of pollution “fast fashion” causes – especially fabrics made of plastics that don’t every breakdown like swimwear. Not to mention the poor working conditions Chinese companies tend to be know for like sweat shops and child labor.
I want to step away from brands that create more waste and don’t want to help fund the poor treatment of workers who create the swimwear and clothing. Although it is more expensive, I want to support smaller brands that are ethically made and created from recycled fabrics that don’t add more waste into the world.
Disclaimer: I do not own any swimwear or clothing from the brands listed below – these are just the ones I’ve found based on research and good reviews from other people. Hopefully will own some cute suits from these brands for Summer, though! Listed here are 12 bikini brands doing their part to reduce pollution and support ethical business practices.
If you’re not sure about making the switch to ethical and sustainable swimwear yet, here is some more information:
Regular swimwear is made of nylon and polyester which is plastic that does not break down.
1/4 of fish tested in California had plastic in their bodies – that’s your poke bowl.
Approximately 1.4 BILLION pounds of trash goes into the ocean each year.
640,000 tons of that trash is “ghost fishing gear” which is harmful to sea life.
Fashion is the 2nd biggest industrial cause of pollution in the world (after oil).
A gorgeous line ethically handmade in Bali – it is owned by San Diego babe @taywag, one of my favorite girls on Instagram. Beach Access swimwear is made out of materials sourced from Bali and manufactured by local artisans. They even use the fabric scraps to make scrunchies! All their packaging is 100% single-use-plastic FREE, which is incredible. Beach Access is passionate about our coastal environments and being sustainable.
Tops start at: $61
Bottoms start at: $59
This brand has it all – ethically made, certified fair-trade, and sustainable. Their clothing and swimwear is made from organic, renewable, biodegradable and regenerated fibres. The swimwear is made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon, which is created out of fishing nets removed from the ocean that are then turned into yarn. When you’re ready to get rid of your Kowtow swimwear, you can bring it to their store so they can recycle and reuse the fabric.
Tops start at: $99
Bottoms start at: $99
Novah Swimwear caught my eye because of their beautiful, simple designs, but kept me around when I read that they make their swimwear out of recycled nylon – fishing nets and other plastics removed from the ocean and landfills, cleaned, and turned into fibers which is then manufactured in Italy into the swim material. They do not use plastic packaging, but instead use recycled card and paper. Novah Swimwear is manufactured ethically by small family businesses in Europe.
Tops start at: $65 (sale $35)
Bottoms start at: $65 (sale $35)
This brand is ALL about sustainability and strict ethical business practices. They make their swimwear from discarded fishing nets and plastic bottles removed from the ocean that are repurposed into fabric. OceanZen does not use any plastics in their packaging and has high ethical standards for their manufacturing process. The people who make their swimwear are part of a small family business in Bali and are paid beyond a fair trade wage.
Tops start at: $80
Bottoms start at: $79
This is a well-known, bigger brand that is created around sustainability. Their fabrics are almost all recycled or all natural, plant-based fibers – they aim for 75% of their products to be recycled or plant-based. For most of their swimwear, they also use ECONYL® fibers! Reformation’s factories are all required to follow their ethical Code of Conduct and are monitored for compliance. In 2018, the majority of their clothing (57%) was manufactured in LA, with the rest being manufactured in the Ref Factory (22%), China (19%), and the last few percent in Italy (1%), France (>1%), Morocco (>1%), Thailand (>1%), and Turkey (>1%).
Tops start at: $68
Bottoms start at: $58
Rocha Swim is all ethically handmade in my second home – Santa Barbara, CA. They are made in small batches which reduces fiber waste. All their bikinis are inspired by Brazilian/1980’s cuts made for petite figures.
Tops start at: $68
Bottoms start at: $58
This brand is 100% fair-trade handmade in Indonesia, designed in New Zealand, and describes themselves as ‘earth conscious’. They ensure sustainability in all areas – from manufacturing to packaging. All their materials are locally sourced to support the local businesses and economy.
Tops start at: $62
Bottoms start at: $62
Summersalt gives 4 reasons why they’re so amazing – 1. There’s no middle man so the prices are fair. 2. All their swim is created based off data of 10,000 women’s measurements. 3. They use recycled materials for their fabrics and packaging. and 4. Their pieces are “crafted to be wrinkle less, dry quickly, and keep you comfortably on the move”.
Tops start at: $50
Bottoms start at: $45
Another brand based in Bali – this swimwear is ethically handmade by local artisans and each tag is signed by the person who made your item. They are elegant and simple styles with beautiful colors to choose from.
Tops start at: $55
Bottoms start at: $50
Tropic of C
Founded by our favorite woman – Candice Swanepoel. She has always been a model I looked up to not just for her looks, but for her passion and drive to make the world a better place. Her brand closely follows her personal values and is made of the most sustainable materials and suppliers as possible. Half of Tropic of C swimsuits were made of Econyl® this season. Their packaging is 100% plastic-free and they even use ‘tree-free’ stone paper packaging. All pieces are ‘made with love and respect for the environment’ and the color palette/texture is inspired by earth.
Tops start at: $75
Bottoms start at: $65
When creating this Californian brand, there were not any options for using recycled nylon fibers to create swimwear. The founder of Vitamin A worked with mills around the world to create EcoLux™ — the first premium swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibers. They even partner with environmental organizations like One Planted Tree. All their products that can be are produced in California, while others that cannot are produced by fair-trade artisans in ethical factories – giving women a safe place to work and fair wages. Their swimwear is all made in the USA with most of it being crafted in California. They have even taken the extra steps to make their headquarters environmentally friendly by doing things like changing all their lightbulbs to LEDs.
Tops start at: $88
Bottoms start at: $78
Zulu and Zephyr
An Australian boutique brand, Zulu and Zephyr cares about the environment and maintaining ethical practices. Their packaging is all 100% plastic-free – their cornstarch bags are biodegradable and from April 2019 on, packages will be sent out in 100% recycled card mailers that are compostable/recyclable. They even print their marketing material on carbon neutral ECOstar paper stock! Zulu and Zephyr also donates to charities and all their products are ethically made in certified factories.
Tops start at: $65
Bottoms start at: $65
Another option is to shop second-hand. It may sound gross, but if you shop on apps like Depop and Poshmark, a lot of the swimwear being sold has never even been worn. This way you can still get your favorite brands without adding more pollution into the environment or supporting unethical business processes.
I even have some brand new, never-worn swimwear listed on my Depop.
If you can’t help but buy the cute, cheap bikinis from places like Target and H&M, don’t feel bad. No one is perfect and I still like to shop cheap brands, but I think it’s important to be aware of the environmental impact we are making when we buy unethical, unsustainable products (fast fashion) and at least try to lighten that impact by shopping brands like the ones listed above.
Have a favorite brand that isn’t listed here? Comment below!