Yes. Australia is the home of budgie smugglers, togs and swimmers. Just about everyone, no matter their age or size, has a pair of bathers in the cupboard. Some of us have entire swimwear wardrobes of up to hundreds of pairs.
But, swimwear – particularly the fabrics they’re made from – are not particularly environmentally friendly. Most swimmers are basically made of plastic.
With most of us now becoming aware of the issues surrounding sustainable clothing production, the need for sustainable swimwear has become a bit of a hot topic.
There are a number of smaller Australian brands that have focused on creating swimwear in a more sustainable, or eco-friendly way – they use recycled nylon, or nylon made from recycled sea plastic, or reuse fabric waste. In their different ways, with their different styles, these brands are filling a gap in the market.
Camp Cove Swim
If you love colours and prints, Camp Cove Swim is a brand you’ll get excited about. The cuts are forgiving with high-waist bottoms and supportive tops in pretty graphic patterns and a range of colours from muted neutrals to bright primary shades.
The lining of the swimsuits are made of Econyl – a regenerated nylon made from fishing nets and landfill waste – and the prints are done using the sublimation printing process that uses no water at all to dye fabric.
The brand also manufactures all their garments in a small town on the coast of New South Wales, and uses in-house scraps for their samples, and they on-sell their excess fabrics to local fabric stores.
Check out the brand at www.campcoveswim.com
This is a swimwear brand that’s all about surfing. The style and designs are functional – think rash tops, surf leggings, high-waisted bottoms, supportive tops and waterproof pouches – they also produce surfboards.
The garments are made from Econyl, they use biodegradable packaging and produce the pieces in Australia using responsible manufacturing practices.
Salt Gypsy started out in 2012 with the aim to develop the surf leggings for women surfing; and continues to be focused on creating a closed loop production system using ‘repolymerised’ waste materials and supporting the slow fashion movement.
Check out the brand at www.saltgypsy.com
If you’re as scared of the harmful rays of the sun as I am, you need to check out Shadeswim. The brand was created by a young mother who suffered from skin cancer, and who wanted to create swimwear for adult women that is more covered up, and with a high level of sun protection.
In Australia it is basically a law that children now have to wear full-coverage swimwear ie. rash tops etc, and full-coverage hats with neck protection at schools and public swimming events.
Shade Swim’s designs are not trendy, but they are comfortable and flattering for women of all ages and body types, they protect your skin and are made from a type of sustainable Lycra that is UPF 50+.
Check out the brand at www.shadeswim.com.au
Yes, you can upcycle and reuse swimwear fabric according to Re-Swim Club, a swimwear brand that creates its garments out of what would otherwise be considered waste fabric.
The brand sources designer surplus, recycled materials, remnants and off-cuts to create limited run swimwear. All the pieces are hand cut and hand sewn to make the most of every little scrap of fabric.
The swimsuit cuts come in classic styles like tank two-pieces and simple one-piece malliots, and since the fabrics change all the time, there are limited numbers of each piece. Interestingly the brand categorises its products by size – so you shop your size first and then see what is available. This makes sense considering the irregular amounts of each particular fabric.
Check out the brand at www.reswimclub.com.au
Yes, this swimwear is designed to make your bum look good. If you’re looking for something a little sexy and love solid colour swimwear, check out Le Buns.
These swimwear designs are a bit more on trend than some of the others, but there is a classic feel that makes sure you will have longevity from your swimsuit. The cuts of the bottoms are also a bit more revealing than more covered-up brands, for those who want to show off a bit more.
The brand pays attention to its supply chain, using suppliers with sustainability and transparency credentials for ethical production. Le Buns also uses biodegradable packaging or home compost grade mailer bags for its online shipping, and even gives you a free wash bag so you take care of your swimwear in the washing machine so it lasts longer and you don’t need to replace it.
Check out the brand at lebuns.com.au
Shapes in the Sand
This eco conscious swimwear brand is all about Australian nature, from the prints to the styles. Using sustainable and recycled fabrics, Shapes in the Sand produces limited runs – two or so prints per season – in a range of cuts that have been designed to suit all ages and body types.
Like many Australian swimwear brands, every collection comes with a rash top – the cover-up of the Aussie beach – and different styles of bottoms depending on how much, or how little you want to show. The prints are based on the natural environment, and the brand’s models are more natural than fake.
All manufacturing is done in Australia, with the aim of supporting a circular economy; the fabrications come from bio-based (plant) materials and recycled nylon from fishing nets and even carpet fluff! All their packaging is plastic free, and Shapes in the Sand also collaborates with a variety of non-profit environmental and cultural organisations.
Check out the brand at www.shapesinthesand.com.au
If you’re interested in supporting Australian fashion, follow @fashion_revival_runway to discover more cool, independent Aussie brands.