Sustainability in the swimwear industry
It is estimated that eight million tons of plastic debris are being washed into the oceans each year, and this figure is not expected to decrease unless we drastically change our daily habits to save our environment. Fashion has a colossal impact on the environment due to the constant variation in trends, but fortunately the industry is powerful enough to make a difference and inspire others in doing so. Change is never easy, but little by little we can find new ways of contributing to stopping plastics from entering our seas and polluting our ecosystems.
Ultimately, being sustainable is a lot deeper than just recycling. For a fashion brand, there are instrumental factors that need to be considered that only begin with putting research into creating long-lasting, durable items of clothing without compromising the use of sustainable material or signature designs.
Below are five of my favourite sustainable swimwear brands we should turn to this summer and having spoken to the founders, this is why:
LOVE BRAND & CO.
Since the beginning, Oliver Tomalin has been committing 5% of company revenue to support conservation projects around the world such as David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Elephant Family, Tusk, Project Zero and Ibiza Preservation Foundation. The thought and care that goes into Tomalin’s swimwear is monumental as he is not only creating a unique design to communicate the stories behind the conservation projects he supports, he also says he believes in “being a voice for the natural world and for endangered species”.
His brand, created in 2010, was motivated by the notion that elephants could officially become extinct, creating a strap-line “Trunks for Trunks”. Since then, he has expanded in the aid of many species that need awareness including the Posidonia Oceanica, pinnacle of his SS19 collection entitled Sea Wave. This collection is a collaboration with Ibiza Preservation Foundation which aims to preserve Ibiza and Formentera’s natural seagrass that absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen which in turn, sustains our ecosystems.
Tomalin explains: “Our conservation projects are enriched by our brand, and likewise our brand is enriched by our purpose in conservation.” In fact, another of his collections reflects his collaboration with charity partner Project 0 whose mission is to make 30% of our oceans protected by 2030 to save endangered species such as the bluefin tuna. He adds: “Sustainability means sustainably sourcing every element,” Love Brand & Co makes its swimwear from 100% recycled bottles.
Woodlike Ocean plays its part by donating a portion of its proceeds to The Healthy Seas, an NGO whose mission is to rid our seas of unwanted plastics and waste. On top of this, Woodlike Ocean’s entire swimwear collection is made using Econyl®, a process that is contributing to the reduction of ghost fishing nets recovered from our oceans. These recycled fibres are then made into high-quality, 100% eco friendly swimwear in its production house in Italy. Woodlike Ocean promises longevity and durability in the products which in turn, is helping the current issues of disposability and consumption the fashion industry is feeding.
Co-founder Sonja Palma always dreamt of creating long lasting eco-friendly swimwear so until she was sure that she could deliver that, she refrained from creating the brand. Palma explains: “I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.” So it was only in 2016 that alongside her husband she finally launched Woodlike Ocean, an entirely sustainable brand that prides itself in its eco-friendly production cycle. The entire SS19 collection features smart, seamless shapes with triangle and bandeau tops. The best part? Some styles are reversible so you get two for one!
New to the swimwear scene is Medina, a brand that is actively ethical and eco-conscious which creates all of its swimwear from 100% regenerated polyamide fibre from post-consumer materials removed from global waterways. Lourdes Medina, founder, is looking into contributing 5% of sales to a charity organisation that she is still yet to decide, but it is this determination and willingness to contribute that inspires us to change. “My sole goal has always been to create a brand that would be sustainable and send the right message to the word by using it as a platform to make people conscious and aware of the pollution era that we live in,” says Medina. This determination is seen from the moment you enter the label’s website and read “save the ocean” splattered out across the screen. The brand is due to launch on net-a-porter and its collections feature magnificent swimwear inspired by Medina’s love for nature. When she was asked whether her designs were compromised at any time due to the more restricted range of resources her response was: “Absolutely not. Of course it is challenging, but the options are continuously increasing.”
Medina’s swimwear designs are minimalist with clean cut lines and the addition of the brand’s signature buckle. You will see monochrome one-pieces and bikinis with cut-out features and halter necks.
Being B Core certified is a huge achievement in the fashion industry today and proves that a company is officially verified to higher social environment standards. This is one thing that sets Finisterre apart from other brands with the other being that the company offers you a 12-year repair service so that if your purchased item rips or falls apart then Finisterre will repair it for you free of charge. This is a great initiative the brand has to reduce disposability, a notable concern facing our environment today due to the fact that many items are thrown away instead of being fixed, causing an unmeasurable amount of waste that sit in our landfills endlessly. Also all collections are made with 100% recycled fabrics, organic material or Yulex natural rubber.
The British label Finisterre made an appearance in the fashion industry when founder Tom Kay introduced his first collection in 2003. The brand is born out of Kay’s passion for the sea and has therefore been brought to life with strong sustainability and traceability elements. Kay says: “As a brand, we try to connect people to the sea and our products are built to inspire this connection.” His love for the sea is reflected in all of his collections featuring sports bra-shaped bikini tops and surf shorts for women and board shorts and tees for men, swimwear that inspire you to take the weekend to surf, or learn to surf, the Cornish waves in the UK’s southern coast. Don’t worry, Kay has you covered for the cold, icy weather with his collection of hooded wetsuits.
Responsible manufacturing is one of Volcom’s core pillars that defines the brand’s commitment to the environment. It implemented a Product and Social Safety that ensures all of its lines are built responsibly and in compliance with the highest global social and chemical regulatory practices. In 2018 it was voted in as an “accredited member” of the Fair Labour Association, an association that ensures fair labour practices and safe working conditions of the company.
Volcom also established a programme called ‘Volcom Giveback Series’ that generates funds for non-profit organisations which are in line with the brand’s vision on protecting the environment. One of the current organisations that Volcom supports is PangeaSeed Foundation, an ocean conservation group that is using ARTvism, a community of creative individuals who, through their artistic voices, inspire others to activate a more eco-friendly approach to everyday life in the hope of saving our planet. The brand embarked on its sustainable journey almost fifteen years ago, and as Volcom’s co-founder said: “We were just dipping our toes in the water...but the more we have learnt, the more we pushed for it to become a core value of the brand.”
As a brand, Volcom’s swimwear collections are inspired from the arts, music, films, culture and sports given the adventure nature of its founders Richard Woolcott and Tucker Hall and all of their designs are intended to be practical and durable. The majority of Volcom’s swimwear range is made using ECONYL® and it features 60’s ribbed retro one-pieces and seamless bikini tops with matching bottoms. Think burnt reds, lilacs, blues and greens as prominent colour schemes in the collection.