Sustainable swimwear options have grown in number and popularity over the past few years – but what really makes them “eco-friendly”?
The first question to ask, according to swimwear experts Kay Howitt and Lynne Tramonte, is: “Will this fit and suit my body type?” With so many clothes being poured into landfill each year, this seems like a no-brainer, but start with choosing a bikini or one piece you actually love.
With a combined 35 years’ experience in the industry, and as the founders of swimwear brand Monte & Lou, Howitt and Tramonte ought to know. So, we asked them to impart some words of wisdom on what makes swimwear sustainable.
This quick checklist will help you pick the perfect cossie.
The name to know is recycled nylon. If you would like to support a brand that is more sustainable, check that the swimsuit (both lining and outer layer) is made from a high percentage of recycled yarn. Monte & Lou’s collections are made with their own fabric, as well as a silky lining, both of which are made from 85% recycled nylon and elastane for that perfect fit. “Recycled nylon retains the properties of the regular nylon yarn giving the same life span and quality for the swimwear,” says Howitt.
Keep an eye out for OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification, which is the highest available for responsible fabric manufacturing of its kind (naturally, Monte & Lou only use fabric of this standard).
Know the printing method
The pattern the prettiest part of your swimsuit – but without proper printer processes can be one of the most detrimental to the environment. Thankfully, digital printing methods reduce water waste and eliminate the need for the use of harmful dyes (the method saved more than 40 billion litres of water worldwide in 2018). Monte & Lou’s collection uses this printing method, too, and makes its vibrant, feminine prints that much more beautiful.
If you’re anything like us and you’re doing (even more) shopping online during these socially-distanced times, you’ll notice just how much packaging is being used, and likely going straight in the bin. Howitt and Tramonte are mindful of waste, too, and they practice what they preach right down to the last detail. They introduced fully compostable and biodegradable packaging, with online orders shipped in reusable zip lock bags in biodegradable satchels.
Check the brand ethos
A little research on the brand will speak volumes about its approach to sustainability. “Kay and I were always mindful of the impact of swimwear manufacturing on our environment as our past experience has promoted a culture of fast fashion,” says Tramonte. “For our own business we wanted to move to a more sustainable model that would reduce these long term impacts. When we started our brand sustainability was key to our business ethos. Even a small company like ours can make a difference.”