The complete guide to sustainable SUP and swimwear
In this fast-paced, consumerist world we’re inundated with choice. Brands compete with brands, often searching for low-cost manufacturing, which leaves little room for ethics. Team this with a throwaway society, and ‘fast fashion’ thrives.
Thankfully, we’re rapidly becoming conscious of the knock-on effects our individual fashion choices have on society. So much so, that the demand for more sustainable fashion has exploded.
I’m a big believer in the power individuals have when it comes to creating societal change, and when focused on fashion it can have a real positive impact. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty of fast fashion, but I’m glad to say it’s something I’m continually turning my back on.
You probably know that my first love is adventure - particularly water based - so I’ve spent a lot of time researching and buying wetsuits and swimwear over the years. More recently I’ve tried really hard to make more ethical choices for my SUP and swimwear, searching for slow fashion labels that fit my criteria; ethical, sustainable and comfortable.
I want to help shake up the fast fashion world, one garment at a time. Take a look at some of my favourites…
Batoko // www.batoko.com
‘We’re rubbish literally’. What a brilliant tagline.
Batoko is an independent swimwear label based on the North Wear coast of England that creates swimwear from 100% recycled plastic. The collection is small (by fast fashion standards, anyway) with around eight pieces per collection, each uniquely and flamboyantly different.
I have the ‘Cockatoo’ and ‘Vegasaur’ prints and they even do matching swimwear designs for kids. So cute! Items are shipped in compostable paper bags, using recyclable and recycled material.
Prices from £40
RubyMoon’s gym to swim range is highly convenient and provides a versatile collection. Their ‘awesome fitness with ethics’ means they only choose sustainable materials in their swimwear fabrics. They’re a committed partner of healthyseas.org, helping to reclaim ocean waste such as fishing nets and general plastic pollution and turn it into products and donate 100% of net profits to entreprenurial women across 13 countries to help launch their business and bring them out of poverty. And if that’s not enough, all products are certified for 42% less carbon emissions than similar products.
Prices from £35
I’ve been following Davy J since the first capsule collection was launched a couple of years ago. The concept excited me – creating swimwear from 100% regenerated nylon yarn from waste. I gave the swimsuit a go and it stood the test of multiple SUP surf face plants (no bum cracks on display!)
What’s unique about Davy J is its approach to circular economy. It encourages customers to return items once they reach the end of life, helping them achieve their aim of a 60% close recycling loop by 2020. Their stuff is built to last so it may take some time to return my swimsuit, but what a refreshing vision for sustainability. What’s more, all products are made in Britain, increasing traceability of its journey.
Prices from £30
Finisterre // www.finisterre.com
From stylish jackets with recycled insulation to synthetic-free bikinis, Finisterre have a great collection for any adventurer. In their mission statement Finisterre made a commitment to eradicate single-use plastic from their business by 2018 – it’d be good to get an update on this status, but fabulous if they have met this pledge. Helping to drive down waste, they have a unique in-house repair service enabling customers to send damaged garments to be fixed up and brought back to life. They are committed to completely eradicate single-use plasticfrom their business. They have an in-house repair service, moving people away from a throwaway society. They eliminated fluorocarbonsfrom their clothing in 2017, helping to reduce toxic waste.
Prices range from £60
Deakin and Blue is designed for women of all shapes and sizes - ranging from size 8 to size 20 and bust sizes from AA to HH. They use sustainable fabrics in all their swimwear too, so what’s not to love? Deakin and Blue combine fashion and function and with sculpted designs that fit in all the right places for adventure on (or in) the water.
They’re British-based and use 100% reusable and recyclable packaging in their online deliveries. On top of this Deakin and Blue don’t use swing tags or plastic packing bags – both of which contribute to landfill - and manufacture small production runs to eliminate stock waste, keeping down landfill and helping build the reputation of what slow fashion should look like.
Prices from £70
Stay Wild Swim // www.staywildswim.com
Lovers of the ocean, Stay Wild Swim are passionate about giving back to the world. Their swimwear is made from regenerated nylon from unwanted waste such as fabric scraps and old fishing nets so they tick the sustainability box there. And whilst the capsule collection (it only launched a few months ago) is simple, it works. Those of small stature will be pleased to know they have petite options but what really stood out for me is their ethics around employment; they hire and train people from disadvantaged backgrounds and give them key skills in stitching and pattern cutting.
A Guppy Friend is sold on the website, promoting the reduction of micro plastic waste generated by 100% recycled plastic garments. If you don’t know about these bad boys then let me explain: you basically put any synthetics fabrics in the bag, pop it in the wash and it captures the micro plastic waste - you can literally empty the bag and see just how much you’ve stopped from entering our oceans. By hiring and training people from disadvantaged backgrounds, Stay Wild Swim promote ethical employment standards and truly give back to the community.
Prices from £50
Fourth Element definitely caters for the adventurer and is well loved in the world of aquatics so it’s Ocean Positive range is no different. The website sells everything from bikini tops and drysuit towels to rash guards and wetsuits, but now is not the time for distractions. Their sustainable swimwear range is made from 78% recycled materials and each piece of swimwear is packaged in non-plastic bags.
To help create products that are socially-aware, Fourth Element work closely with many ethical organisations including World Animal Protection and Global Ghost Gear Initiative. They have joined Mission 2020, where members pledge to adhere to ambitious targets in order to prevent further damage to the ocean.
Prices from £55
We Are Nativ // www.wearenativ.com
We Are Nativ is, by its own definition, born of a genuine desire to change and improve the natural world one banging bikini at a time. Sounds good to me. It’s more high fashion than function, but there’s still a place for this in the world of eco-shopping.
Bright neon colours and bold geometric styles set this brand apart but it’s not all about design - it’s got a conscience too because who says sustainability can’t be sexy or conscious can’t be cool? We can wear whatever we like as long it’s in line with what we believe .
We Are Nativ uses Econyl from pre and post consumer waste in all of its swimwear which helps make use of waste products and the slogan t-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton. It would seem their collection is geared towards low-action adventure - more for lazy days on the SUP in my case. They also produce pieces in short runs and in limited quantities.
Prices range from £100
So, there we have it, a comprehensive guide to slow fashion SUP and swimwear.
Fast Fashion’s impact on the planet is frightening, so it’s a breath of fresh-air to know that there is a sustainable alternative to mass-produced, synthetic garb. Cheap materials create inexpensive products and in turn encourage a throwaway society, adding to landfill. But this isn’t the only problem. The cheap materials used are often toxic; particularly textile dye that pollutes sea and land, and polyester that contributes to global warming.
Want to know more about how to become fast fashion savvy? I compiled a checklist of what you need to look out for to help make better decisions when you shop for clothes.