Upcycling waste materials is nothing new in the fashion industry. But the idea of swimming in the sea in a bathing suit made from marine litter seems to carry a certain special cachet – so much so that more and more luxury brands are combining their efforts in a drive to fabricate new materials. With household brands such as Adidas forging collaborations with environmental organisation Parley for the Ocean to weave beach waste plastic into their running collection, the stigma once attached to eco-fashion – that being green would inevitably lead to compromise on aesthetics or comfort – is finally lifting. With summer scorching the top of our heads, how about some beautiful one-pieces and bikinis made from sea waste?
According to the latest report by World Animal Protection, 700,000 tonnes of fishing gear is abandoned in our oceans every year. This discarded tackle could get wrapped around turtles, entangle fish, cut into the flesh of seals – worse still, it could take years for these synthetic nets to biodegrade. The damage to marine life could therefore go on for a long time.
Davy J turns this to good account, by making all their swimsuits out of 100 per cent regenerated nylon yarn from waste such as ghost fishing nets. By 2020, the British brand aims to accomplish 60 per cent closed loop recycling, meaning it will find a way to reuse old items returned to the brand. Its dedication to its product take-back scheme, just one among other initiatives to reclaim its fabrics – has earned it a Butterfly Mark from London-based online database Positive Luxury, which looks at the sustainability credentials of luxury brands. Calling itself a swimwear brand “for the wild”, Davy J’s apparel is designed to survive more strenuous water activities like cliff jumps and diving. Finally, however, it is a swimsuit to swim in – without having to worry about undone bikini strings or awkwardly displaced tops.
Shipping: £25 (US$33) international shipping fee, to be dispatched within two weeks.
Lilliput & Felix
Launched in London in 2014, Lilliput & Felix opened the doors of its Asian headquarters in Singapore last year. The lifestyle brand, which is committed to using conflict-free gemstones and ethically sourced feathers, works with local suppliers and refrains from using PVC which is non-biodegradable. Reclaimed textiles such as recycled fish nets make up the bulk of the brand’s raw materials, while leftover fabrics are donated to schools and charities. The brand has been awarded Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark for its beneficial environmental actions such as donating a percentage of sales to a philanthropic cause. It also uses environmentally-friendly packaging involving recycled or recyclable materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Sustainability takes on a meaning a stitch deeper than materials in the brand’s line of beachwear and swim attire. Most of its timeless pieces are shaped in multi-tie cuts to easily fit all varieties of the female form, like the Artemis dress below.
Shipping: HK$72 (US$9) international shipping with tracking.
New York-based brand Mara Hoffman staunchly adheres to its sustainable ways down to the very last detail. The simple aesthetics, clean cuts and often bright monochromes can easily flatter every kind of body shape. Among the fabrics the brand sources is one that is 100 per cent regenerated nylon fibre braided from industrial consumer wastes, consumer waste like fishing nets and other fabric scraps. It is trademarked ECONYL. It also uses compostable poly bags for shipping, and hang tags made from recycled paper. The brand, which launched in 2000, has been busy minimising its impact on the environment from production, packaging to shipping since 2015. It is now a member of the global alliance the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which involves it in collaborative networks with like-minded textile brands.
The location of manufacturing operations is also a calculated matter, as the brand is keen to set up factories near to the sources where raw materials are grown so as to reduce the carbon footprint from delivery.
Shipping: US$15 international shipping, delivered within 12 business days.
Galamaar, which originated in Los Angeles, believes that conscious consumerism is the New Wave, and is determined to be part of it.
Their swimsuits are manufactured from a durable techno-fabric made of nylon from discarded fishing nets. They will therefore last longer in your wardrobe without stretching over a few swims. From the pad inserts down to the hang tags and packaging, the brand is devoted to making the smallest possible impact on the environment.
We’re loving their blend of minimalism and retro classiness. Their high-waist cuts accentuate the legs, like the Oh Margot! one-piece here:
Shipping: US$45 international shipping, delivered within 10 business days.
A member of the UK marine charity the Marine Conservation Society, this independent brand was founded on the north west coast of England. A certain percentage of Batoko’s sales goes to the society, which organizes beach clean-ups and spearheads petitioning for the legislating of environmental protection policies. The brand’s swimwear is entirely recycled from plastic bottles and scrapped goods such as carpets. The whimsical patterns are digitally printed onto the vegan fabrics without harmful chemicals. Their factory in China abides by the BSCI Code of Conduct to avoid exploitation not just of the environment, but also its people. Many of the brand’s prints feature wildlife fauna and flora – think Great White sharks, orcas, huge banana leaves patched on bright neon colours. Even without built-in padded cups or wires, their swimsuit is supposedly tested to support up to an E cup with its firm fabric.
Shipping: £10 (US$13) international shipping with tracking, delivered within four weeks.
Note – This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website with permission.