The fast fashion trends have contributed to unprecedented amounts of textile waste, and swimwear has been no exception. Fortunately, many brands are riding the eco-friendly wave toward more responsible and ethical swimwear production practices.

The Problems with Popular Swimwear

Mainstream swimwear has fallen into the same trap as all other fast fashion categories. With ever-changing bathing suit trends, most swimwear ends up in landfills after a single season. The sheer volume of swimwear produced, left unworn, or discarded is one of the major issues with the current swim fashion system. A less ethical approach will continue to contribute to the masses of textile waste hitting the garbage every year. But the amount of popular swimwear is only one of the major issues with the industry. The other has more to do with composition.

The current trends in conventional swimwear utilize alarming amounts of plastic to produce their product. Most swimwear brands rely on nylon, polyester, and lycra for their moisture-wicking properties and classic stretchability. The production of these synthetic and effective materials is relatively cheap. But the problem with plastic is now widely known: when it's discarded, it sits in landfills and even oceans for years. This is especially true with plastics within textile production. Textile recycling has not yet hit the mainstream the same way that other forms of recycling has. This means that tons of plastic-ridden textiles, including bathing suits, are often left unrecycled.

But the problem with swimwear material continues. Not only do conventional swim brands use cheap production methods, but their goal is to make sure that each piece has the shortest lifespan possible. In short: swimwear falls apart quickly. That's actually on purpose. When you combine the changing styles and the cheap construction of swimwear, you get a recipe for massive amounts of textile waste.

Fortunately, there has been a major movement toward ethical swimwear. These high-quality, longer-lasting, responsibly-constructed bathing suits can curb textile waste. Many of the brands also seek out natural and repurposed materials so the production process is equally eco-friendly. The result is swimwear that is built to last, and built with green practices that will keep our earth healthy while buyers sunbathe sustainably.

New, Ethical Swimwear Practices

Synthetic materials like plastic cannot decompose. Instead, they break into tiny pieces of microplastic that are often swallowed by fish and other marine animals. What happens to these tiny bits of plastic? They work their way back up the food chain… to us. In a stroke of creativity, ethical swimwear brands are sourcing plastic from the ocean. They clean and break down these potential pollutants and melt them into an innovative thread called ECONYL. Econyl is similar to lycra, but many think it's even softer and more stable than the previously popular material.

In addition to creating new, responsible swimwear materials, brands are moving toward timeless, classic pieces that won't go out of style. When swimwear is made to last, and the style is equally timeless, that's when we can start really cutting down on textile waste.

Highlighting New, Exciting Swimwear Brands

Vitamin A

This Laguna Beach California brand creates and produces ethical swimwear in the USA. Focusing on women's swimwear, Vitamin A is inspired by travel and modern art. They usilite a new material, EcoLux, which is a super-fine jersey fabric produced locally in CA using recycled nylon. The prints on the fabric are also created in an eco-friendly way, with waterless digital technology to conserve both electricity and water.


Summersalt is based in St. Louis, MO. They have taken their eco-friendly methods as far as shipping their suits in reusable bags. This brand also focuses on women's ethical swimwear, using a unique TrueMeasure process to offer a perfect fit for a variety of body types. Summersalt's pieces are also made with recycled textiles that they say are five times stronger than other swimwear suits.


This is another California-based brand looking to use sustainable and deadstock fabrics in their production of swimwear. Reformation swimwear uses deadstock materials, along with recycled and regenerated fabrics like the ECONYL creation listed previously in this post. They are also passionate about women in leadership, and boast a 75 percent female management team.


This French-based brand is also fighting plastic ocean waste, but this time, on behalf of men. Vilebrequin debuted their swim shorts made of 100 per cent recycled yarn in stunning, bold colours. They set out to reuse the plastic caught by Mediterranean fisherman by spinning it with other recycled textiles into a light yarn, perfect for mens swimwear. Also perfect for the earth.

Swimwear has dove right into the wave of brands working to make a positive change in the fashion industry. This is just the beginning of ethical swimwear, and the movement toward responsible fun in the sun.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is re-published with permission from