If you're looking to buy a new swimsuit for the summer but want to make sure you're supporting eco-friendly, ethical companies, then you'll love this list of vegan swimwear brands.
This year I set out to find the best swimsuits made using sustainable materials and practices, but with incredibly stylish designs so you look great at the beach or pool.
In my eco-friendly sunscreen article, I covered why choosing the right sunscreen is crucial to the health of the seas and all marine life.
Swimwear is more Mrs. M’s department (I’m more than happy in a pair of scruffy boardshorts), so I've recruited her for her expert opinion on the more female-focused sustainable swimwear brands.
One thing’s for sure…researching this article has made us both realize that we need to get away on a beach holiday ASAP!
Later in this article, I’ll discuss what exactly makes ethical swimwear ethical, and what sets these products apart from the rest of the fashion industry.
But first, I'd like to dive (swimming pun intended) into the list of winners.
They Say: We’re a team of artists, activists, and designers, bringing our passion for protecting the planet and people into the world through activewear you’ll love. Every time you buy or wear your Wolvens, you’re giving back to environmental initiatives and promoting the power of choice. And choosing sustainability is sexy.
We Say: Wolven is a fashion brand with some serious eco-credentials.
OEKO-TEX also certifies the eco-credentials of the Wolven fabrics.
All orders are shipped in recycled poly mailers or biodegradable paper boxes.
As if that wasn't enough, they’ll also arrange to remove one pound of ocean-bound waste for every order.
Mrs. M Says: Wolven is on a mission to make sustainability sexy.
James is impressed with the sustainability part of that mission…and I definitely agree that they do sexy swimwear.
Your definition of sexy might vary from mine slightly. As a woman of a certain age (who’s had two kids), I find high-waisted bikinis hot!
They’re stylish (without being a fad), sexy (without being too revealing), and reversible. Giving you numerous style/pattern/color combinations from just two pieces of sustainable swimwear.
Both are made from 84% rPET (recycled plastic bottles) and 16% spandex, with an odor-resistant vegan suede finish.
Free U.S. shipping is available on all orders over $99.
Free worldwide shipping is available on all orders over $150.
They Say: At Everlane, we are working to do our part by building an ethical supply chain that creates high-quality, low-impact, long-lasting products. We carefully consider our materials and work with our production partners to reduce waste, chemicals, and plastics that endanger our planet’s people and ecosystems. Our timeless basics are designed to last.
We Say: Everlane is a brand I’ve been aware of for a while, ever since my daughters bought me a weekend bag (as mentioned in my eco-friendly backpacks article).
After a bit of further digging into the brand's ethics, I’m mighty impressed with their commitment to sustainability!
They’ve committed to meeting the key targets of the Paris Agreement. Read more here.
They’re eliminating new plastic from their supply chain. Read more here.
They’re aiming to move all their cotton to certified organic by 2023.
Mrs. M Says: James loves the sustainability ethics of Everlane…and I love their functional swimwear.
The Square-Neck One-Piece lives in my gym bag and is perfect for my morning laps of the local swimming pool.
Made from 82% ECONYL and 18% Elastane, it’s flattering, super comfy, and quick drying.
The bright red also makes a real statement without being too ‘showy’.
They Say: BOLD Swim’s sustainable line of size-inclusive swimwear is made from Amni Soul Eco® Thread / CO2 Light Fabric — a biodegradable nylon fabric manufactured in Brazil that is both eco-friendly and soft to the touch. BOLD Swim’s light and breathable signature fabric ensures a great fit and is intentionally designed to degrade in landfill conditions.
We Say: Made Trade is one of my favorite zero-waste stores, and their collaboration with Bold Swim is helping bring sustainable size-inclusive Brazilian swimwear to North America.
Free carbon neutral shipping is available on all U.S. orders over $100.
Mrs. M Says: If it's available on Made Trade, you know it's ethical and sustainable.
I’m also delighted to see the reversible theme continuing with this Bold Swim/Made Trade team-up.
The Flora One Piece Reversible Swimsuit is made in Brazil using biodegradable Amni Soul Eco® yarn.
Sustainable and stylish, and fully covered by the Made Trade 15-day hassle-free returns.
They Say: Since 2019, each and every one of our swimwear fabrics has been made from recycled content. Uniquely to peony, this includes our printed fabrics, our custom textures, and even our inner linings. For resortwear, we exclusively use natural fibres and innovative sustainable fabrics. This is the peony standard. We have never wavered from this standard, and we never will.
We Say: Mrs. M brought Peony to my attention for me to dig into their eco-credentials.
Initially, I was unsure about recommending a brand based in Australia due to the environmental impact of shipping to the U.S.
However, their commitment to sustainability is impressive. You can read more about it on their website.
What really caught my eye is that Peony only use SA8000 approved suppliers in their supply chain
Mrs. M Says: I’m soooooooo happy that Peony has passed muster with James in terms of sustainability because it means I got to test the Flannel Vacation One Piece.
It’s super cute and super flattering. It would fit in perfectly with the glamorous locals on Venice Lido Beach. HINT HINT JAMES! 😉
They Say: We are a handmade fashion brand based out of Nova Scotia, Canada. All Thief&Bandit fabric is hand-printed using giant silkscreens using non toxic ink. Our fabrics are then heat set for longevity of wear. From beginning to end, every Thief&Bandit piece is completely handmade, using sustainable practices and materials.
We Say: Along with Made Trade, Etsy is another of my favorite zero-waste stores. Their range of sustainable swimwear is extensive.
My favorite of the Etsy sustainable swimwear brands is Thief&Bandit.
Their swimwear is made from Chitosan. An EPA-certified, antibacterial material made from a sugar that comes from the outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp.
This does mean that Thief&Bandit does not fully hit the Vegan brief. But, I’ve included them because I love brands pushing the boundaries with innovative fabrics.
Mrs. M Says: I thought James had finally lost it when he told me about swimwear made from shellfish.
Turns out it's actually a thing. What a world we live in!
The tiger print Sustainable One Piece Cheeky Swimsuit is a lovely playful number.
Etsy is committed to sustainable shipping. This swimsuit will be delivered free to the U.S. with all carbon emissions from the packaging and shipping offset.
They Say: The rPET yarns we use for our shorts use 94% less water than oil-based PET fibres. The production process uses 70% less energy and there is a 54% reduction in CO2 emissions. These yarns are woven into textiles that are 100% recycled and 100% waterproof. 7 individual PET plastic bottles provide enough fibre to make one pair of MARDA swim shorts.
We Say: Marda is very much my kind of brand.
Eco-friendly swimwear, made with sustainable materials, and minimal choice (apart from color options).
I own a pair of the Yellow Mid-Length Swim Shorts and love them.
Mrs. M says I remind her of a canary when I wear them because of my skinny legs. Harsh!
Marda is based in Europe but offers free worldwide shipping.
They also donate 5% of every sale to The Ocean Cleanup.
Mrs. M Says: I’m sorry (not sorry!), but James does look like a canary in these shorts.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely shorts. I just don't think yellow is his color!
Cobalt Blue would have suited him much better.
They Say: When I finished my former sponsorship to start Outerknown, I challenged my partners to create a pioneering new company that made great clothes with a radical commitment to sustainability. Five years later, Outerknown is proving that you don’t have to compromise on sustainability or style. Kelly Slater.
We Say: I first experienced the excellent sustainability work being done by Kelly Slater and Outerknown when I reviewed their sustainable waterproof jackets.
When setting up Outerknown, Kelly insisted on being as sustainable as possible.
This explains why all their ethical trunks are made from 100% recycled or renewable fibers.
I’m a big fan of the Outerknown Apex Hybrid Trunks, made from 100% recycled polyester and sewn in a Fair Trade Certified factory.
However, what I love about these trunks is the dual-purpose design. They have all the performance you need when on your board, but also don't look out of place going out for a relaxed dinner.
I also get a lot of use out of my Seea Unisex Muir Poncho. Made from recycled denim and organic cotton, it does an excellent job keeping me warm between swim and board sessions.
Free standard U.S. shipping is available on all orders over $125.
Free standard international shipping is available on all orders over $200.
Mrs. M Says: I love the growing trend for reversible eco-friendly swimwear. It gives you multiple outfit combinations with one purchase. Saves money and resources.
I’m also loving that Outerknown is expanding its offering for women.
Both pieces are made from 80% recycled polyester and 20% spandex.
The fabric is also rated UPF 30+ to 50+, and a repair/recycling service is available for this bikini set.
They Say: Because we know prioritizing durability results in consuming less energy, wasting less water, and creating less trash. Everything we make has an impact on people and the planet. Learn more about our environmental and social responsibility program. We’ve pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
It also makes my favorite spring/summer wetsuit for long sessions on the boards (surf and paddle)...the Men's R1® Lite Yulex® Front-Zip Long-Sleeve Spring Suit.
Patagonia is a 1% For The Planet member and funds many environmental nonprofits.
You can read more about Patagonia’s commitment to activism here.
Mrs. M Says: I’m on the same page as James regarding Patagonia’s surfwear.
Also, a quick shout out for the Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel. 100% organic cotton and super absorbent. A beach day must have!
They Say: Since 1938, we have been your local outdoor co-op, working to help you experience the transformational power of nature. We bring you top-quality gear and apparel, expert advice, rental equipment, inspiring stories of life outside and outdoor experiences to enjoy alone or share with your friends and family. And because we have no shareholders, with every purchase you make with REI, you are choosing to steward the outdoors, support sustainable business and help the fight for life outside.
We Say: If you love the outdoors, REI Co-op has you covered. It’s a convenient one-stop shop for all your outdoor needs.
REI Co-op is open and honest about its environmental impact and the steps being taken to reduce it.
All its stores are powered by 100% renewable energy, and it plans to reduce its company-wide carbon footprint by 55% by 2030.
You can read more in the REI Stewardship Report.
I love the retro look of the VISSLA Low Five 18.5" Board Shorts, made from REPREVE® (containing recycled polyester and coconut fibers), with 4-way stretch for comfort and mobility.
Mrs. M Says: REI Co-op is one of my absolute faves.
I love that you become a lifetime member for a one-off fee of just $30 and gain access to free delivery, discounts, and other exclusive perks.
My favorite item is the prAna Belltello Swim Skirt.
Made from 78% ECONYL recycled nylon and stitched together in a Fair Trade Certified factory; it's super cute and playful.
They Say: Tired of the regular, boring, and plain swim trunks, we set out to create a fun, cool, and lively style of bathing suits. Whether you’re tall or short, thin or wide, there’s no reason you can’t look fantastic! Our swimtrunks are bold, comfortable, not too long, not short, not too loose, not too tight, but just right! We guarantee that the minute you put on a pair of Bermies you will instantly notice how people admire your confidence and straight-up coolness.
We Say: Bermies make eco-friendly swimwear from recycled bottles and ship them carbon neutrally in compostable mailers.
As a man partial to boardshorts, I love the Bermies range, especially the Classic Avocado…perfect for swimming or other water-based avo-cardio exercises! 🤣
Mrs. M Says: Bermies has got the whole family covered with their range of plastic bottle swimwear.
The Leopard One-Piece is my favorite. Who knew plastic bottles could be so damn sexy!
Free shipping and returns are available on all U.S. orders.
Free international shipping is available on all orders over $100.
Fast fashion brands churn out cheap swimwear that often struggles to last one holiday, let alone an entire summer!
They’re usually made from environmentally destructive materials and might even have been manufactured using abusive labor practices.
Take a sustainable fashion approach to your swimwear. Don’t follow fads. Invest in timeless swimwear that will last years.
The best sustainable swimwear brands use the best sustainable materials, including:
You can read more about sustainable and recycled materials in my Sustainable Fabrics article.
Ethical swimwear can only be produced by ethical companies.
Look out for companies that treat their workers fairly and humanly.
The amount of reputable eco-friendly certifications a sustainable brand carries can be a great indicator of their eco-credentials and ethics.
Check out what other people are saying about a brand or item of sustainable swimwear.
If the overall vibe is generally positive, then it might be worth further investigation.
Try to avoid fads and trends that will change and be ‘out of fashion’ before you know it.
Stretch your budget as far as you can to ensure you get quality sustainable swimwear that will last.
Due to the nature of the use of swimwear (ie, it’s worn mostly in water), there is usually some level of synthetic fabric present for performance reasons.
When synthetic fabric is washed, it releases tiny particles (known as microfibers or microplastics) into the water system. These particles are difficult to catch and often end up in rivers and oceans.
According to the EPA, “a 2019 study by Ocean Wise estimated that the average household in the U.S. and Canada releases 533 million microfibers – or 135 grams – of microfibers to wastewater treatment plants each year”.
If you can’t avoid synthetic fabric altogether, you can reduce the level of microfiber pollution leaving your washing machine by using a GUPPYFRIEND™ Washing Bag.
The Cupshe website is vague about its sustainability commitments. I'm also still waiting for a reply from them regarding how they source their materials. So, this is not currently a brand I can recommend.
Polyester is a popular choice for swimsuits, especially for competitive swimming. Polyester swimsuits are durable, long-lasting, chlorine-resistant, and offer UV protection.
If you go for a polyester swimsuit, make sure the recycled content is as high as possible. Recycled polyester made from recycled plastic bottles is a fantastic eco-friendly option.
Most swimwear linings are nylon mixed with a stretchy material, such as lycra or spandex. Recycled nylon, like that made from recycled fishing nets, is an excellent ethical swap for virgin nylon.
As more consumers turn to eco-friendly products, sustainable swimwear is becoming more mainstream, and more eco-friendly swimwear brands are coming to market.
This is great because it leads to two things:
Whether you’re a shorts guy like me, a reversible one-piece girl like Mrs. M, or something in-between, I hope this article has helped you start your journey to find sustainable swimwear that is perfect for you.
Where do you buy your sustainable swimwear? Have I missed your favorite eco-friendly swimwear brand? Do you know of an ethical swimwear brand doing good in its local community? Drop me a line and let me know.