Sustainable swim guide


Image: Mara Hoffman

After many hours of research, I have navigated through countless brands and their sustainability initiatives. Using my experience and expertise to sift through new fabrication offerings, technological advances and avoid garish and subtle greenwashing, I bring to you the first Sonzai Studios swim edit.


Don't have time to read specifics right now and trust my expertise? Heres a list with links to shop now (in alphabetical order):


Baiia

Bower

Cleonie Swim

Fella

Hunza G

Londre

Mara Hoffman

Natasha Tonic

Salty swimwear



sustainable swimwear LONDRE
Sustainable, sexy and trendy swimwear for every figure. Image: LONDRE

Within my choices, I have not only looked at the social, environmental and ethical processes of these brands, I have also factored in their use of diversity in their imagery and campaigns. I was delighted to see many brands offering imagery of their products on various body shapes and sizes, and celebrating women holistically.


I’ve focused on brands that are implementing smart design, not just using recycled fabrications for example. One brand doing this well is BAYTHE. Rather than packaging their products for shipping in a regular polybag, their pieces come in a ziplock bag that can be infinitely used at the beach to hold your phone and wallet- marrying functionality with sustainability and circularity. Another example being Baiia and their multifunctional, reversible wrap one-pieces. Some brands are also driving a multipurpose product, with swimwear that can be worn as activewear and underwear. This needs to be given credit, as 'buying less and choosing well' is the baseline of shopping we are trying to achieve.


Whilst recycling fabrics from ocean waste (such as fishing nets), is a great circular initiative, we have to think deeper about the impacts of that process. Making fabric from plastic is a very environmentally heavy process. We can perhaps instead consider brands using natural fabrications in swimwear, for example Natasha Tonic, who's pieces are created with hemp.


When evaluating our purchase, we must also think of the lifecycle of the pieces. Poly-based swim, recycled or not, releases microfibres into the oceans when washed. Alternatively, washing organic cotton is less impactful on the environment.


And lastly, I’ve chosen brands that have beautiful, fashionable pieces. Sustainable swim, as I hope you find after this article, is sexy and inclusive. Buying better is easy this summer. Happy shopping!


Sexy sustainable bikini Fella Swim
Sexy sustainability via Fella Swim


Cleonie Swim


This up and coming brand has me currently dreaming up which piece I will order for summer. The brand uses CIENNA™ , an eco-crinkle fabric that is dyed and woven in Australia, and ECONYL® for their styles and each piece is hand made in Avalon, on the NSW coast. Crinkle is making waves in the sustainability space, as the pieces are able to be produced as 'one-size-fits-most', dramatically streamlining production processes and reducing wastage. They also have environmental initiatives such as compostable packaging and swing tags that are made from 80% recycled paper.




Mara Hoffman


I literally wouldn't have the space to list all of Mara Hoffmans sustainability initiatives, and out of all swimwear brands on my search - this is the most impressive. This is an example of a brand that is thinking of improvements in every step of the process of making their pieces- all the way down to partnering with a company to repurpose their fabric scraps. Bear in mind it takes a lot of man power, time and resources to be doing this much good, and with their international ongoing success, Mara Hoffman is a great example that doing good is good for business.




Hunza G


“We reduce waste, not quality or cost.”

On trend, crinkle styles, designed beautifully and made sustainably. This brand is currently in the spotlight for celebrity favourability including Rosie Huntington Whitely, Kim Kardashian and Hailey Bieber. They practise diversity and inclusivity and prove their pieces look good on every shape of woman (even when heavily pregnant!) The crinkle fabric is woven in the midlands of the UK, and the pieces are sewn in London and made-to-order. Just like Cleonie, they have adopted the 'once size fits most' for sizing, and donate portions of their gross profit to charities such as Street Smart UK. Something I have not seen in swim, is that they offer a 6 month warranty on their pieces. They will amend any styles that become faulty within this time and send them back to you - a real indication of their core belief of quality over quantity.




Baiia



A recipe for success, Baiia is a great example of smart swimwear. Honing in on versatility and cuts flattering to all shapes, it's no wonder they were DHL’s Emerging Australian Designer of the Year in 2018.

Their best selling wrap one-piece is multifunctional and reversible. Using recycled nylon and ethically made in China, this label is an advocate for Fashion Revolution Week and a label ticking many sustainability boxes.



Fella

A longtime favourite of mine and brand I have worn for many years. I used to produce my own sustainable brand in their self-owned factory, and know the owners Tang and Rosie personally. They have ongoing partnerships with the likes of i=Change and Worn For Good, advocate of both BIPOC and Black Lives Matter movement locally and globally and support many causes through donations such as the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) and Wires Wildlife Rescue in the wake of 2019/20’s devastating bushfire season.

"We believe less is more...We are anti-excess in both production and principle. We preference small-runs and made-to-order where possible to avoid production waste. Our updated packaging features a combination of compostable and recycled materials." Rosie, co-creator.

Note: I have personally owned swimwear from this brand, so can happily vouch for the quality and cut of these pieces.

Natasha Tonic

Trend driven and classic pieces in swim fabric alternative - hemp. The fabric is fair trade and unlike polyester, it does not pollute the environment with microfibers. Made in LA, they also practise multipurpose design, with their pieces worn as swim, lingerie and activewear. Their initiatives extend to reducing their carbon emission, with the transport from fabric supplier to studio being 100% electric.

Their activewear catsuit (that could also be worn surfing) is lingering on my mind...






Bower




Shortlisted for Sustainable Brand of the Year in the Draper's Sustainable Fashion Awards, all swim fabric is produced using ECONYL® yarn and each piece is ethically made in Italy. 1% of all orders are donated to the Healthy Seas initiative and their packaging is eco-friendly including recycled card, soy-based inks, and their tissue paper is certified by the Eco Packaging Alliance.



Londre



Beautiful cuts and inclusive campaigns, LONDRE's styles vary from skimpy to sun-safe rash guards. Their factories are all based in Vancouver, BC and by using a minimum of 6 recycled plastic bottles in every swimsuit, they have taken over 100,000 plastic bottles from the beaches and streets of Taiwan to date. Some of their further initiatives are shown below...



Salty swimwear



Pieces for women, men AND kids. This Australian brand takes pride in its initiatives of maintaining high standards of recycled materials, environmentally friendly packaging and assuring all production is ethically correct. Their swim is made using REPREVE® and through their partnerships with Indigenous artists, 10% of profits from the collaborative pieces are donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.



Note: I have personally owned swimwear from this brand, so can happily vouch for the quality and cut of these pieces.



Note to reader: I would love your feedback on this article. I am aiming to provide content that can empower your sustainable shopping choices. Did this do that for you? Did you end up buying something from one of these brands? Or did it miss the mark? Email me: celeste@sonzaistudios.com . ALL opinions are welcome here. Let’s make tangible change together x