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Bikini season is upon us and finding a sustainable summer staple can be quite a challenge. Discover our roundup of the most ethical ‘kinis around.
Sustainable bikinis for all body types
I’m not sure why, but when it comes to swimsuits—particularly bikinis—I tend to pick favourites. This bottom always gets loose in the water, that one doesn’t cover me up enough, this other one squeezes me in all the wrong places… as you can imagine, the list can get quite extensive, and is something most people go through on their quest to find their Goldilocks set. Like lingerie, a bikini doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should make you feel good. From taking a dip in the pool to snorkelling to simply lounging around, a bikini can fulfill many purposes. But along with style and practicality, it is equally important to consider the ethical impacts of our swimwear, which is why we’ve tracked down the best sustainable bikinis for you.
Common sustainability problems in swimwear
For those of us who live in the sun year-round, perhaps we can get carried away (myself included), filling our drawers with the newest statement trend or print. Aside from succumbing to a fast fashion cycle, swimwear also presents another problem when it comes to sustainability: plastic. Synthetic fabrics—like nylon, polyester, and spandex—are perfectly suited for swimwear because they wick moisture and stretch across the body, reducing friction in the water. They are also versatile and inexpensive to make, so the fashion industry relies on them heavily: not just for swimwear, but also activewear, outerwear, and other cheap fast fashion garments. This is a major problem because plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it never decomposes, which is an issue from the production phase to the release of microfibres when washing, all the way to disposal of the garment at the end of its life. Luckily the best way to look after your swimwear—gentle hand washing—is the best way to reduce microfibre releases, too. It also makes the most sense, since swimwear is most often worn for a very short period of time and should rarely require a machine wash.
Eco-friendly bikini materials
Thankfully, there are alternatives to these polluting plastics most swimwear is made from. More eco-friendly materials such as ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, use synthetic waste like industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from oceans, then recycle and regenerate them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon. Even better, other swimwear brands are meeting this need, innovating in their own capacity, and creating their own luxe materials from recycled nylon fibres or other natural alternatives. Quick caveat, however, is to be wary of greenwashing when it comes to this kind of stuff. It’s important to remember that it’s not just materials that matter, but also labour and animal scoring.
So, without further ado, read up on this ultimate guide for the brands that are making the biggest splash in sustainable bikinis.