Conscious Living

The sustainable swimwear labels turning heads and cleaning up oceans

Closing the loop on ocean waste one breaststroke at a time.

The world has a plastic problem. The transition to reusable bags, straws, cups and other everyday items is underway among socioeconomic groups that have the means to do so. Organic, sustainable and ethical have become sought-after buzzwords when it comes to how our clothing is produced. And the silver lining to plastic – if you can really call it one – is that its inability to be destroyed only moved has forced companies to get creative; upcycling the waste to create new fashion items such as shoes or raincoats.

But perhaps the biggest fashion contender closing the loop on consumer waste? Swimwear. Advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to produce high-quality yarn using recycled nylon and plastic from fishing nets to discarded carpets fit for dips in the ocean and poolside lounging.

Local sustainability hero, Kowtow, launched their debut swim collection in November 2018 using Econyl® to craft their garments. This collection alone recycling 120kg of discarded nylon.

Following a few searches on the internet — and the personal matter of needing to replace a pair of swimwear (long story) — it appears the luxury Italian manufacturer behind Econyl® has become a popular choice among designers with an eco focus. So much so that there’s no shortage of options regardless of your personal style to choose from.

We bring you our favourite sustainable swimwear brands to shop this summer: 

Kowtow | The sustainable swimwear labels turning heads and cleaning up oceans


First up (for obvious reasons) is New Zealand designer Kowtow. Besides creating their swimwear collection using Econyl® – the company dedicated to removing tons of fishing nets from the oceans and turning them into yarn – Kowtow’s commitment toward circularity encourages customers to return their swimwear at the end of its useful lifecycle for them to continue the regeneration process.

Shop Kowtow swim here

Peony | The sustainable swimwear labels turning heads and cleaning up oceans


Australian swimwear designer Peony known for its beautiful, high-end shapes and prints, recently introduced the environmentally friendly and Oeko Tex Standard 100 fabrications. “This conscious shift stemmed from our genuine love for the environment and is a natural progression for our independent boutique Australian brand.”

Shop peony swim here

Vege Threads | The sustainable swimwear labels turning heads and cleaning up oceans

Vege Threads

Crafted carefully using 78% recycled nylon ( Econyl®) and 12% chlorine resistant Lycra, the Eco-Swim collection by Australian label Vege Threads endeavours to meet the highest standards of quality and aesthetic. The LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ component provides exceptional shape retention, chlorine-resistance and UV protection.

Shop Vege Threads here

VDM The Label | The sustainable swimwear labels turning heads and cleaning up oceans

VDM The Label

Modern swimwear brand VDM The Label known for its athletic-inspired aesthetic also uses 78% Econyl® and a pre and post-consumer waste polyamide yarn. Spotted frequently on the likes of Bella Hadid, VDM The Label has a focus on trends with pieces designed to mix and match easily across the range.

Shop VDM The Label here

Baythe Swim

Another Aussie label clutching at our Bondi Beach daydreams is Baythe Swim. Their sustainably produced material includes 100% regenerated Italian fabric made from recycled fishing nets, and on their beachwear accessories re-usable zip pocket packaging is used – which is also bio-degradable.

Shop Baythe Swim here

Ambra Maddalena

Born out of poems and imaginations of distant sun-soaked lands such as the Mediterranean, Australian designer Ambra Maddalena has curated a hyper-feminine collection using Econyl®- the same luxe Italian 100% recycled nylon product dominating the sustainable swimwear market. Even just browsing the campaign provides a welcomed dose of escapism.

Shop Ambra Maddalena here


Entertain your wild side with Canadian swimwear label Minnow. Handmade by a team of women in Toronto, Minnow’s approach to ethics and sustainability takes a more roundabout route. Instead of sending their garments to Italy for production (this is where many of the recycled fabrics are made), for every purchase, Minnow donates to the Ocean Conservancy; a foundation that creates science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

Shop Minnow here

Words: Terri Dunn
Photos: Supplied