The idea of sustainable fashion has changed considerably in the last few years. Where once, it seemed at odds with the idea of style, as connotations of hemp and shapeless clothes dominated the conversation, it is now becoming not just the focus but the raison d'être for many established brands. And while a lot of mainstream retailers struggle to catch up with an increase in consumer demand for pieces that are more sustainable, one area of the market has been quietly reforming.
When it comes to swimwear, thankfully, now it's almost unusual not to see brand's talking about some sort of sustainable credentials. Usually, it's about the recycled materials. Tanya Taylor's new swimwear collection is made using high-performance fabric made from 78% recycled multifilament polyamide, while all of the designs in H&M's, which is the brand's most sustainable line yet and available from tomorrow (June 3), are made of at least 85% recycled polyester.
The collection has a lo-fi feel (think simple bandeau swimsuits and high-waisted bikini bottoms) that might be more palatable than bright patterns if you've not dipped your toe into the swimwear pool since 2019. It's also about all size inclusivity, with sizes running up to UK 22 online and UK 18 in store.
Rixo, too, has just launched sustainable swimwear, an 11-piece collection comprised of swimsuits and bikinis (also available to buy as separates) in a muted colour palette of jade green, coral and lilac. Inspired by vintage shapes and silhouettes, each piece is made from Q-Nova, an environmentally sustainable nylon fibre obtained from regenerated raw materials.
Shoppers are clearly on board with sustainable swimwear brands who use recycled fabrics. According to EDITED, the leader in retail market intelligence, swimwear products described as containing recyclable or sustainable materials are up 307% year-on-year. Since the 'Attenborough effect' of several years ago, when the documentary-maker issued a grave warning about plastic crisis in our oceans and triggered a 53% drop in single-use plastics, there seems to have been a real sea change when it comes to consumer behaviour around swimwear. Of course, this has probably been helped along by the fact that it all looks so appealing.
Paper London's sustainable swimwear - all of which is made from ECONYL, a 100% regenerated nylon fibre that is made from recycled fishing nets and other ocean waste, definitely made a splash when it launched a few years ago. And now, with every swimwear purchase the brand plants five mangrove trees in either Madagascar, Mozambique or Kenya, through the Eden Reforestation Projects. For creative director and co-founder Kelly Townsend, it was during a trip to Mexico, where she was shooting the campaign for SS19, that she saw how human behaviour had affected ocean habitats.
'The turquoise waters of the past have been replaced by a thick red seaweed due to the rise in sea temperature and I saw first-hand the damage we have done. It's hard to fully grasp the magnitude of some of the ongoing issues or how bad they really are when we live in big cities but whilst I was there, I vowed to try and change Paper's overall footprint to become more sustainable.'
Boden's new collection, available in sizes 6-20 and featuring retro stripes and belted bikini bottoms, is made from Mipan, a recycled nylon made from 100% waste materials, which have been melted down using a chemical-free process to produce the yarn. Perfect Moment's swimwear capsule, launching in the middle of June, is an ode to the '80s, with halter-style necklines and neon colours, and is also made from ECONYL.
Whatever your taste - and wherever you're holidaying - there's a mindfully-made swimsuit with your name on it.