Fast fashion is among one of the most environmentally damaging industries today, with it being the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply. The fashion industry also accounts for 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and increasingly pollutes the oceans with microplastics every day. Swimwear, a major subcategory of this industry, presents some of the biggest environmental issues due to the nature of material and the often-short lived product lifecycle. The durability and elasticity of the needed synthetic fabrics, including nylon, polyester and spandex, are inexpensive and are able to continually absorb and dry off water. It is estimated that approximately 65 million tons of these plastic-based materials are manufactured annually within the textile industry.
The primary issue with swimwear materials is the inability to biodegrade. The high level of plastic and foreign makeup of each garment means that if the product is not purchased, or an owner has decided their time with the swim piece is finished, it is thrown out and contributes to the 8 billion tons of plastic that already exists on the planet. Due to the nature of the product, consumers infrequently recycle their swimwear through donations piles or hammy downs. Consumerism is at an all-time high and is fuelled by the economies of scale achieved in production making the end price for people relatively cheap. Combined with the rapid increase of e-commerce and targeted online ads, we as consumers are more commonly purchasing five or six of the same pieces of clothing, rather than one or two statement pieces that are of high quality and durability. Specifically, to swimwear, these items are usually worn seasonally and at an infrequent rate depending on where you live. We at Ritology believe in committing to one or two long lasting bikinis that are more likely to guarantee you some poolside compliments – here are some of our favourite brands!
Ocean Zen - @OceanZen
In 2014, founder Steph Gabriel launched the beautiful swim collection Ocean Zen. Her mission was simple, she wanted to transform old and abandoned fishing nets and plastic bottles into sustainable fabrics that could create durable and beautiful bikinis! “Saving the ocean one bikini at a time” guided the creation of the label which aims to style conscious consumers in soft and but enduring swimwear pieces. Head to their IG page here to see their sleek and beautiful designs.
Tala - @WeAreTala
Tala’s enormous success can be attributed to its ‘slow fashion’ values and its wide variety of products available. Partnering with Q-Nova and Recivertex, Tala’s products are sourced from regenerated materials that would otherwise end up in our oceans. Similarly, their place of manufacturing has been SEDEX checked and is up to labour, health and safety, environment and business ethics. Whether you’re hitting the gym or looking for evening attire, Tala has created clothing that ‘doesn’t break the bank or planet’. Beyond promoting ethical fashion, the brands recently created #TalaTalks discusses health in a holistic and friendly light. The coolest thing about Tala is their tags. Yep that’s right – their tags. Each is filled with seeds that can be home grown in soil and treated daily with water. This cute little surprise, and the fact that their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable, makes Tala a truly amazing and inspiring brand!!
Zulu & Zephyr - @ZuluAndZephyr
A well-known brand within the swimwear industry has also been striving for positive environmental impacts since day one. With an ethos of sustainable supply chain management and a clear brand strategy of giving back to social justice movements, Zulu & Zephyr is not only beautiful in design but also in environmental approach. Their econyl fabric is made from nylon waste from the oceans and landfills, such as fishing nets, which is altered into its original form. Not only does this recycling approach reduce Zulu’s need for sourcing completely new materials, but it also cuts down on the use of crude oil needed to create original nylon. Not only is this strategy environmentally positive, but the ribbed lycra design is resistant to chlorine, suntan oils and abrasions – talk about a lifetime bikini!
Madewell - @MadeWell
Madewell is among some of the most forward-thinking clothing brands within the sustainable arena. Their CEO, Libby Wadle, is committed to business wide sustainability from ‘the manufacturers to the HQ’. Their materials are sourced from recycled wood pulp, plastic, and cotton from old garments and left-over manufacturing. Beyond these key initiatives, Madewell has created a 2020 Do Well Report, which entails their insanely committed environmentally affirmative strategies in materials, operations, supply chain management and commitment to community. More specifically, their swimwear line Second Wave which follows all of their sustainable values, has some of the most unique designs in terms of colouring, patterns and shapewear – click here to learn more.
Baiia - @Baiia_Label
The beautiful and down to earth founder of Baiia swimwear, Amber, had a long journey in creating her sustainable swimwear brand. With a background in fashion, business and marketing, Amber realised the most important stakeholder in any business is the environment. Concurrently she felt that the swim apparel she currently owned was of low quality and ‘felt gross and restrictive’, and so in 2018 her Baiia was created. Her unique wrap and reversible design, as well as the soft and durable nylon materials made from old fishnets, carpets, plastic bottles and textiles, has created a broad product line suitable for this of all ages, shapes and sizes!