Mike-Dave Ayeni

Sustainable Fashion Writer

 

Summer is about to set on us down under come December and it is no surprise that people are getting ready to stock up their summer wears. Surfing, being at the beach, and swimming plays such a fundamental part in Australian culture and even more so when summer hits. However, as much as Aussies love the time outdoors, taking all the warm weather has to give, they are also becoming more conscious about their environment.

 

Australian brands and consumers have started to recognize the importance and urgent need for an industrial revolution. This revolution is none other than the significant turn to sustainability. Brands have started to take measures to reduce their environmental impacts. They have also started creating swimwear from recycled and environment-friendly materials. Many of the newer eco-friendly fibres being used by Aussie brands recently include discarded fishing nets, recycled plastic, and lots more.

 

We are all tasked with the responsibility to take care of our environment. If you are getting ready to enjoy your summer in the most beautiful yet eco-forward swimwear, then keep reading to discover the kinds of fabric used to make sustainable swimwear, the production process, and the brands that have the same goal as you do.

 

FABRICS USED TO MAKE SUSTAINABLE SWIMWEAR

 

Repreve

Repreve is one of the most popular sustainable fabrics for swimwear. Made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, Repreve comes to be with the help of incredible tracing technology. This tech carefully studies and verifies the recycled plastics before proceeding to transform them into the fabric. Repreve is made by a global textile company called Unifi and as of June 2020, they had reportedly recycled 20 billion PET bottles.

 

The Production process: Repreve is made in 4 major steps. 

  • Unifi first source of recycled plastic bottles and other post-industrial waste from all across the globe.
  • Next, the waste material is chopped, ground, washed and melted. After melting, the result is reformulated into a high-quality REPREVE chip.
  • The high-quality Repreve chip formulated in the previous step is then further melted into the liquid polymer. The polymer is passed through a spinneret with several tiny openings. This leads to the formation of continuous filaments, which will ultimately form the Repreve fibre.
  • The Repreve fibre formed is further processed by spinning and air-jet texturing. This step turns the fibre into actual yarn. The Finished yarn is soon converted into fabrics and made readily available for customers.

 

ECONYL

Econyl is a fan favourite among all fabrics for sustainable swimwear. Not only is it perfectly suitable for making swimwear, but it can also be used by brands that create sustainable and eco-friendly activewear. Econyl is made from synthetic waste (fishing nets are carpets) and the resulting fabric is very similar to virgin nylon, a very unsustainable kind of fabric. Econyl is a great fabric for sustainable swimwear as the production process greatly contributes to protecting our oceans. The fabric is made by the Italian sustainability brand, Aquafil.

The Production Process: Econyl is made in 9 major steps:

  • First, waste products are removed and retrieved from the ocean.
  • Next, the synthetic waste is depolymerized. The original polymer state of the waste is broken down into a simpler monomer state with the use of special chemical processes.
  • The constituents of the previously recycled nylon are melted down into a molten polymer state.
  • The resulting materials are passed through a spinneret with several tiny openings.
  • The resulting intermediate is loaded onto a special type of spool called a bobbin. This step produces fibres.
  • The fibres created are stretched to increase their strength and elasticity.
  • The Drawing stage is next. Here, the stretched fibres are wound onto another spool.
  • The spool-wound fibres are spun into yarn. They are also treated with the necessary chemicals and dyed.
  • The final stage of creating Econyl is weaving the yarn into consumer apparel.

 

Amni Soul Eco Thread

Unlike Econyl and Repreve, Amni Soul Eco thread does not recycle materials to make swimwear. Instead, the parent company, Salvay, focuses on creating biodegradable materials and the end life of the fabric. Salvay’s work on Amni Soul Eco Thread is the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable polyamide yarn. The fibre is made of biodegradable polyamide which is created to undergo biodegradation in about 5 years. The yarn itself can be worn for many years but once it is thrown out and placed in a suitable landfill environment, biodegradation kicks in. Some of the world’s best sustainable swimsuits have been made with Amni Soul Eco Thread.

 

Yulex

One of the most common unsustainable fabrics used to make swimwear is neoprene. Yulex is an eco-friendly spin on neoprene and it is a sustainable plant-based alternative derived from responsibly sourced natural rubber harvested from rubber trees. 

Hemp

Hemp fabric is a naturally hypoallergenic and organic fabric made from the long strands of fibre that make up the stalk of the hemp plant. This is a brilliant source as he grows without pesticides and has numerous ecological benefits such as soil enrichment, and CO2 reaping from the atmosphere. Hemo is also UV resistant and very durable when turned into a fabric with antimicrobial properties. 

 

SUSTAINABLE SWIMWEAR BRANDS IN AUSTRALIA

 

  1. Bondi Born: This Sydney-based premium swimwear brand uses advanced innovative technologies to create beautiful sustainable swimwear. The brand popularly works with several local businesses to create their pieces with quality, ethics, and sustainability in mind.
  2. Salt Gypsy: This Byron Bay-based swimwear label uses regenerated nylon fabrics to create stunning swimsuits, including rash guards and surf leggings. You can find some of the most beautiful and fun cossies for great experiences at the beach.
  3. Baiia: Baiia is an eco-friendly label that uses soft and 11% recycled nylon processed from fishnets, carpets, plastic bottles, and textiles to make sustainable and reversible swimwear.
  4. Vega Threads: Vega Threads is a well-known underwear and basics label that makes eco-friendly swim pieces from recycled Italian nylon. Their fabrics are made of 78% nylon and Xtra Life Lycra.
  5. Seapia: Seapia is an Aussie brand that uses innovative technologies to reclaim and transform discarded plastics. The brand works hand in hand with local artists to make unique prints for some very stunning bathers.
  6. Shapes In The Sand: Using Econyl fabric, Shapes In The Sand creates its swim pieces without the use of harsh environmentally detrimental chemicals. The brand’s entire work process is aimed around cutting all waste as much as possible so much so that offcuts and remnant fabrics are upcycled into hair scrunchies and accessories.
  7. May & Hugo: May & Hugo uses recycled nylon and polyester-fibre fabrics to make their eco-friendly swimwear pieces. The brand prioritizes simplicity and beauty, a value that shines through in its many swimwear cuts and styles.
  8. She Made Me: Best known for its high-quality crochet swim pieces made with ethical practices, She Made Me is a luxury label that employs the expertise of local Balinese artisans. Actively against fast fashion practices, She Made Me only creates pieces in limited quantities.
  9. Ocean Zen Bikini: OceanZen Bikini is an Australian swimwear brand from Queensland. The brand makes its swimwear from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets sourced directly from the ocean.
  10. Tigerlily: Back in 2015, Tigerlily was one of the first Australian brands to commit to making sustainable swimwear. They make swimwear from recycled fibres and also give their consumers compostable packaging for purchases made online.
  11. Peony Swimwear: Peony Swimwear is best known for its pastel tones and eccentric florals. Their pieces are made from recycled ocean waste including recycled fishing nets, carpet and fabric waste. The brand always has some beautiful and eye-catching swimwear that anyone would love to rock at the beach.
  12. Charlie Mae: From the coastal town of Byron Bay, Charli Mae is a popularly beloved sustainable Australian swimwear label. This brand makes its pieces from pre and post-consumer waste and recycles them in line with the BSCI standards to make eco-friendly fabric.
  13. Zulu & Zephyr: Popularly beloved lifestyle brands, Zulu & Zephyr, did a complete 180 with their brand’s priorities in 2020. The company did a major overhaul of its unsustainable practices and relaunched with eco-friendly practices and Econyl fabric made from 78% recycled nylon. Using this fabric, you are sure to find some of the coolest cossies from this brand while actively helping the environment.
  14. Spell and the Gypsy Collective: Also from the coastal town of Byron Bay, Spell and the Gypsy needs no introduction thanks to their long history of making modern boho clothing. However, not many people know that the brand has extended its reach to making swimwear. Spell and the Gypsy swimwear is made from 100% regenerated nylon sourced from waste like fishing nets.