By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
‘Eco friendly swimwear’ used to be something of an oxymoron. As most bikinis and swimsuits are made from nylon, elastic and/or polyester, it seemed the only eco options were saggy-bottomed crocheted numbers. But no more. Today, there are loads of stylish, sexy brands using eco-friendly fibres and recycled textiles to bring sleek, sexy swimsuits for every body type.
From the teeniest, weeniest bikinis to outfits that are a bit more modest, we’ve selected what we think are the best swimwear options for any beach holiday, anywhere.
This Bali-based brand offers a retro 70’s vibe with its handmade crochet styles. All workers receive a fair wage and great working conditions, and no chemically treated materials are used in the creation of these intricately crafted pieces. To compliment these ‘wild woman’ styles, EcoGypsy also makes these fabulous ankle cuffs from objects found on the beaches of Bali. Gwyneth Paltrow and all the Victoria’s Angels are already huge fans!
When two friends decided to make swimwear from rubbish including discarded fishing line, carpet fluff and plastic bottles, a beautiful idea was born: Koru Swimwear. Given the essential role upcycling plays in the business, it’s rather appropriate that the word Koru means “new growth, strength and peace” in Maori. The brand also uses only bulk dyed fabric processed without water waste or pollution, ensuring the oceans are kept as pristine as possible.
According to their website, Aqua Green’s mission is to demonstrate leadership in style whilst providing fashionable, excellent quality and planet friendly products for the conscious consumer. There can be little doubt that this mission has been fully accomplished, as evidenced by the Eco Swim sustainable-minded swimwear collection. All items are made in America, from recycled nylons and other ecofriendly materials and technologies.
What do you get when an Aussie studies at Central Saint Martins? The answer: Emobi, a fresh, fashion-forward swimwear brand created by Jess Salter. Salter’s debut collection was chosen amongst the “Top Swimwear Brands” by WGSN, the world’s largest analyser of consumer, fashion and design trends. All swimwear is made in Sydney, using a range of environmentally friendly, water-based dyes that minimise their impact on beaches and waterways, combined with premium breathable UV protected fabric.
Aguaclara is the result of a sibling venture. Peruvian sibs Jorge and Liliana Villalobos initially conceived the business as a small small manufacturing workshop, creating custom-made pieces from sustainable fabrics. But after almost 20 years, it’s turned out to be one of the world’s leading brands of eco-swimwear, due to its unique fabrics, flattering cuts and interesting embellishments.
Latinas know from sexy swimwear, and La Isla is just that–an eco-friendly brand that’s all about sunshine, sexiness and sustainability. This Colombian made swimwear is so sexy, in fact, it was just featured in the famous Sports Illustrated sportswear issue. Each piece is produced ethically through fair trade standards, and La Isla supports many environmental and social charitable organisations such as Children of the Americas and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society.
Vitamin A produces swimwear that can best be described as the water-ready equivalent of Audrey Hepburn’s classic Little Black Dress. In fact, the brand has created what it calls the “Little Black Bikini”. This is no ordinary swimsuit: its seams lie flat against the skin, avoiding unsightly bulges and ‘elastic tattoos.’ This fabulous eco-glam item is made out of an innovative superfine matte jersey made with recycled nylon fibres, making every holiday even better than a Roman Holiday!
Odina brand evokes the beauty of the mythological creature Ondine (or Undine), Ovid’s gorgeous water nymph in the Metamorphoses. Made in America from reclaimed fabrics, such as recycled nylon, the brand also uses organic cotton for its bikini bottom linings. Although divinely inspired the label wants to be accessible to all, so it works with surfers instead of models on its ad campaigns, and also asks them for feedback on fit and function. The consensus? This is swimwear that’s perfect for the active mermaid.
Summerlove is a brand that was born in and inspired by the easygoing beach culture of California. Designer Vanessa Rivers is adamant about spreading awareness of environmental issues, and uses VITA, a sustainable techno-fabric made with eco-nylon, to produce her collections. This 100% regenerated polyamide fibre is made from pre- and post-consumer materials such as fishing nets, carpet floss, and other waste diverted from landfills–but the sexy, side-tied styles they result in are far from rubbish! In fact, so flattering are SL’s styles, they use their customers as their models. Don’t believe us? Check out each model, below: they’re real people like you and me…but maybe a bit curvier. And with better swimwear!
10. Eden Eco
Eden Eco’s bikinis are meant for free-spirited ladies who love to doze in the sun, play in the waves and live surrounded by nature. Designer-in-Chief Emily Fioravanti conceived her brand with the goal of merging her passion for creating clothing and conscious living. Her collections are targeted for those wandering souls who love the seaside and wish to tribute it with sustainable beachwear.