Conscious and Sustainable Tights That Last - Good On You
24 Jul

Conscious and Sustainable Tights That Last

Since their inception, tights have maintained a sense of modernity, offering warmth in their functionality and appeal in their sheer and flattering finish. As the story goes, four hundred years ago Reverend Lee presented the first pair of stockings made from pure silk to Queen Elizabeth I of England. For many centuries, silk hose were exclusively sported by wealthy noblemen, as the material traversed many miles from China, making it incredibly expensive and difficult to manufacture in bulk. And sadly, the process didn’t get much easier over time, with modern tights presenting their own host of issues. Read on to learn about the problems that still exist today with these essential garments, and discover our recommendations for sustainable tights.

Tights through time: a revolution in the textile industry

Two developments during the 1940s made the tights we see lining our shelves today possible. Circular machines were improved so that they could knit stockings in one piece, essentially attaching the ‘panty’ to the garment and removing the need for a garter. While pantyhose were convenient for warmth, it wasn’t until the rise of the miniskirt in the mid-60’s that tights started to really become popular with the masses; the mini’s short hem rendered the old garter belt truly arbitrary. Tights, as much as the mini, were a gesture of freedom that pointed towards youthfulness. Because of this, tights became part of the message of anti-establishment and looking towards the future.

And even more significant was the DuPont Company’s invention of a problematic synthetic fibre you probably have in your drawer today: nylon.

So, what’s the deal with nylon?

First, the science. Nylon is the name of a family of synthetic polymers that are commonly used to make a variety of different types of apparel and consumer goods. It was the first synthetic fibre that combined extraordinary strength and elasticity. The production of nylon is generally considered to have negative environmental and human impacts. While it’s possible to make nylon with other substances, most producers use crude oil as the main constituent. The second constituent, adipic acid, releases nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) when combined with the first!

The naughty list doesn’t stop there: in order to combine these two constituents, it takes a great deal of energy, which usually comes from non-renewable sources, depending on where it is manufactured. Unsurprisingly a great deal of water is needed throughout the process, from cooling the substance to dyeing the fabric. And because most of the textile industry is outsourced to countries with less stringent environmental regulations, it is unfortunately much easier for mills to carelessly dispose of this dirty, toxic wastewater into vital waterways.

On top of all that, since nylon tights are a type of plastic, it takes hundreds of years for them to biodegrade. The final nail in the coffin? Nylon tights aren’t very durable, typically ripping after a few wears and washes. This cycle of buy, wear, tear, and dispose leaves our landfills and oceans with an abundance of plastic that degrades our environment for many generations.

Looking towards the future

So, what can we do about it? Well, luckily there are solutions. Hosiery, like other plastics, can be recycled. In fact, ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, uses synthetic waste such as industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from oceans, then recycles and regenerates them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon.

Although ECONYL removes the need for fossil fuels in the base production process and reduces the overall production of virgin nylon, it doesn’t necessarily mitigate the release of microfibres into our oceans, as the recycled nylon fabric is still plastic. Luckily, we can always use our Guppyfriend Washing Bag to reduce microplastic pollution when we wash our favourite sustainable tights.

And finally, the most important and perhaps revolutionary thing we can do is buy less! Investing in some good pairs of sustainable tights will help break the ‘single use cycle,’ while keeping your legs nice and toasty during the cooler months.

Swedish Stockings

Rated: Great
Sustainable Olivia Stockings in navy

Olivia Premium Stockings in Navy – Ships internationally from Sweden

Offers

Swedish Stockings @ Luisa Via Roma

Aiming at disrupting a wasteful industry, Swedish Stockings sustainably produces luxury hosiery using recycled yarn. Up to 80% off Swedish Stockings @ Luisaviaroma. (Ends: 7 FEB)

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Since 2013, Swedish Stockings has remained committed to changing and influencing the entire hosiery industry. The brand creates its pantyhose from both pre- and post-consumer nylon waste, saving thousands of stockings from sitting in landfill. These 100% emission free Olivia tights are no exception. Knitted in a zero waste factory in Italy, the semi-opaque lovelies are knitted in 3D and designed with a broader waistband for a more comfortable and optimal fit. While a lot of the brand’s tights are vegan-friendly like these ones, they do use exotic animal hair in some designs. You can find the full range in XS to XL.

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Shop Swedish Stockings.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Luisa via Roma.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Rêve en Vert.

LANIUS

Rated: Good
LANIUS tights in red and green

TIGHTS made of Econyl® – Ships to Europe from Germany

Offers

LANIUS – Pants

From classy to flirty, but always responsible: LANIUS trousers fit for every occasion. Winter Sale! Up to 20% off pants. (Europe and UK only) (Ends: 7 FEB)

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LANIUS – Tops

Fair and organic fashion with a feminine touch. Noble looks that radiate liveliness. Winter Sale! Up to 20% off tops. (Europe and UK only) (Ends: 7 FEB)

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LANIUS – Knits

Wrap yourself in the softest knitwear, perfect for relaxing at home or keeping snug outside. Winter Sale! Up to 20% off knitwear. (Europe and UK only) (Ends: 7 FEB)

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LANIUS – Coats and Jackets

LANIUS creates beautiful pieces that keep you warm while making you feel good, inside and out. Winter Sale! Up to 20% off jackets and coats. (Europe and UK only) (Ends: 7 FEB)

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LANIUS is a German brand that creates slow feminine fashion with a good feeling, focusing on sustainability and high quality. Looking for a silk companion made of recycled nylon? Look no further! Whether harmoniously matched to your outfit or simply added as a colourful accent, these 100% ECONYL® vegan tights are a must-have addition to many stunning looks, but the brand does use wool, leather, and exotic animal hair in other designs. Tights come in sizes 36-46.

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Boob

Rated: Good
Sustainable maternity tights in black

Maternity Pants – Ships internationally from Sweden

Recycled polyamide has never been softer! Boob is a Swedish maternity and nursing clothes brand that aims to support you throughout your entire motherhood journey. These maternity tights are pretty revolutionary. Crafted with certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex recycled polyamide—which means the material is healthy for humans—and fitted with an extra-comfortable high waistline, these tights are sure to provide plenty of room and comfort for your growing belly. While these are vegan, the brand occasionally uses wool from non-mulesed sheep so it isn’t entirely animal-free. Find most tights in sizes S-L and XS-XL.

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Thought

Rated: Good

Anna Recycled Nylon Tights – Ships internationally from the UK

Thought is a British brand committed to offering more considered choices. These vegan Anna recycled nylon jacquard tights are made from post-consumer recycled plastic, which helps to divert waste from landfills. This fabric also uses much fewer resources in its production than virgin nylon, making it more environmentally friendly. If jacquard isn’t your style, no biggie. Thought makes gorgeous coloured and simple semi-opaque stockings too! Just double check the materials if you’re vegan as they sometimes use wool from non-mulesed sheep. You can find tights in sizes XS-XL and S-XL.

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Living Crafts

Rated: Good
Classic black ethical tights

FRANZISKA Tights – Ships internationally from Germany

Living Crafts is a German brand that has successfully produced high-quality natural textiles under environmentally friendly and socio-economically fair conditions for thirty years. These opaque tights come in a range of colours and are created using the brand’s innovative ‘EVO yarn’, a high quality biopolymer created using extracted oils from the castor oil plant. By eliminating the need for crude oil, these timeless women’s tights play a prominent role in the field of natural fashion in future. They are vegan, but other pieces may contain wool. Find the tights in sizes XS-XL.

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Shop Living Crafts.

And that’s a wrap! We hope that this guide gave you confidence that you can still look slick and stay warm while keeping nylons in the lab and out of our homes.

 

Editor's note

Feature image via Swedish Stockings, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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