What Is The Future For Sustainable Swimwear?

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 2 weeks ago | Features

Image: Amber wears the Swim Good Bralette and Brief by Good Studios

Swimwear isn't great for our oceans, because traditionally these pieces are made using plastic-derived fibres like polyester and nylon. These fibres shed dangerous microfibres into our oceans. And even sustainable swimwear brands haven't found a perfect solution to this problem. While they do use recycled nylon – which is upcycled from things like fishing nets – there are few other fabrics that compare with the performance qualities of nylon. Namely stretch and movement.

So ,while recycled nylon represents a more sustainable option for the short-term, it is not a perfect solution for the long-term. Which leads us to ask: what is the future for sustainable swimwear?

While some smaller independent designers on Etsy are taking a retro approach and crafting swimsuits out of cotton, other brands like Ambika Boutique are also using this natural fibre to create crochet swimwear. Future King and Queen points to some other innovative brands, too, like Hemp Huggers and Natasha Tonic, which both use hemp to create their sustainable swimwear. 

Somewhat surprisingly, certain brands are even making swimmers out of merino wool. Outerknown, for example, has made the world's first merino wool trunk using Australian merino wool. And, although these natural fibres might not boast the same performance properties as man-made alternatives, they do represent a good starting point. 

If innovations like Nagnata's sophisticated technology for knitting organic cotton and merino wool activewear is anything to go by, things are only likely to improve where the technology is concerned. And on this note, lab-based fabric developments are only getting better and better too. Which is why we're holding out for a lab-grown, plant-based alternative to plastic-derived fibres.

Already there have been some exciting developments in creating nylon from plant (rather than petroleum) oils. Mostly, these fibres have been used for things like compostable toothbrushes so far, but if we can find a way to develop this bio nylon into a viable fabric alternative, then it could be a major win for the future of swimwear.

In the meantime, though, it's important to avoid virgin polyester swimsuits and opt for sustainable swimwear instead, like those made using Econyl. Also be mindful of how you care for your swimsuit, to give it the maximum lifecycle possible. Always rinse these pieces in cold water after a dip, for example, and choose handwashing over machine washing, every time. 

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