The sustainable swimwear brands helping save the oceans
by Zoe Dickens
Plastic is a big problem for the world’s oceans. This, of course, is thankfully no longer news and much is being done to try and turn the tide on the tonnes of single-use plastic bottles, bags and everyday products that are causing irreparable damage to marine life. However, it may still come as a surprise that the majority of our clothing is contributing to the crisis.
Most modern clothing is made from a mix of natural and synthetic fibres, such as nylon or polyester. These are, at their most basic, simply different forms of plastic and when washed release tiny particles which end up in the ocean and thus enter the marine food chain causing devastating damage. This is especially true of any form of clothing – such as swimwear – that is required to stretch as there are few natural alternatives to Lycra and its counterparts. However, thanks to recent advances in fabric technology, there are a growing number of brands doing their best to offer sin-free swims…
Activewear-focused British brand Davy J began life by trying to fill a gap in the market for those who wanted swimwear in which they could actually swim. Made entirely in the UK, its new Waste Collection is made using Econyl – an increasingly popular fabric among sustainable brands that is used to replace traditional nylon and created entirely from recycled plastic waste such as used fishing nets and textiles. Davy J estimates that for every 100 swimsuits sold 9kg of waste is recycled - with the added benefit that no raw materials are used – while its partnership with the Healthy Seas Initiative sees volunteers in coastal communities collecting used and ghost fishing nets to feed into the recycling system.
From £95, davyj.org
Another Econyl advocate, Holiday Romance was founded as part of the slow fashion movement with its ethos firmly grounded in sustainable and ethical principles. While every piece of its swimwear is made from Econyl and packaged using recycled materials, Holiday Romance recognises this is not a perfect solution as even recycled plastic fibres damage the oceans. Instead it focuses on longevity through high quality construction and educating consumers in the most sustainable way to care for their swimwear as well as collaborating with influential figures to raise awareness. Its latest collaboration with London-based DJs and presenters Loanne and Jordan Collyer is perfect for long days on the beach club.
From £42, holidayromancestore.com
A newcomer to the swimwear business, Neaco was founded by kitesurfer and scuba diver Zak Johnson with the sole aim of tackling the plastic pollution crisis. Still in its youth, Naeco currently offers two pairs of tailored swim shorts in four colours, with each pair made using an eco-friendly fabric woven with 15 recycled plastic bottles salvaged directly from the ocean. Each pair also comes with a five-year guarantee to help prevent over consumption while the brand also hosts regular beach cleans and donates 5% of its profits to marine charities.
While not strictly just a swimwear brand - it also does a strong line in ready-to-wear and accessories - Outerknown is one of the biggest names in sustainable fashion and was an early proponent of Econyl. Founded by pro surfer Kelly Slater and designer John Moore, Outerknown tackles the dual problems of textile waste and ocean plastic by creating recyclable clothing from abandoned fishing nets made entirely in the USA to stringent ethical guidelines. Its swimwear offering includes colourful board shorts and trunks.
From £66, outerknown.com
Australian swimwear brand Jets has built a cult following for its interesting shapes, pretty prints and focus on fit and construction. Now it is turning its focus to sustainability with the use of two new environmentally-friendly fabrics aimed at reducing ocean plastic waste. The first, Renew Plus, combines 80% Econyl with 20% Lycra Xtra Life, a tougher version of traditional Lycra that promises to retain its shape and fit longer that its standard counterpart as well as being chlorine, heat and sunscreen resistant. The second, Naia, is a fabric made using wood pulp from certified and sustainably managed forests which Jets uses to create its range of beach and resortwear. Jets' sustainable swimsuits are currently available in two patterns and three colour ways while its Mirage resortwear line made with Naia currently comprises a sarong, kaftan and maxi dress so you can relax on the beach club completely guilt free.
From £57, jetsswimwear.co.uk