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Swimwear brands dive into sustainability

Conventionally made using fossil fuels, swimwear has been slow at adopting sustainable practices. Emerging brands and innovative suppliers are now embracing new ways of creating beautiful bikinis that are not only more respectful of the ocean but also helping to restore it.

Morgane Nyfeler

By Morgane Nyfeler28 juillet 2022

The fashion industry is largely responsible for the pollution of the oceans, particularly because of the synthetic fibres used in the manufacture of clothing (DR)

An overwhelming number of bathing suits today is made from polyester, nylon or Lycra that are all derived from non-renewable resources using an energy-intensive process. These fabrics are counted as part of the almost 400 million tonnes of plastics produced each year, a figure which has been predicted to more than double by 2050. If the world is heavily reliant on plastic for any kind of production, the fashion industry is first in line. Polyester is the most widely used fibre in the world, accounting for roughly half of the fibre market according to Textile Exchange. It’s been used since the 1970s for its long-lasting, wrinkle-free and stretchy qualities, yet isn’t biodegradable and will end up in landfill for years unless recycled.

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What we are only beginning to understand however is that synthetics shed microplastic fibres when being washed, which then end up polluting our waterways before being consumed by fish and eventually humans. Depending on the way they are produced, synthetic fibres used in clothing account for around 35% of the microplastics that are found in the ocean today. So how ironic that garments made to enjoy swimming in the water are so damaging to this very same environment?

Plastic waste turned into an innovative fabric

35% of microplastics found in the ocean come from synthetic clothing fibres (SLO ACTIVE)

Fashion brands are waking up to these issues and starting to use alternative materials for swimwear. ECONYL® developed by Aquafil is one of the first fibres upcycled from nylon waste like fishing nets, carpet flooring and fabric scraps. Thanks to its durable characteristics, regenerated nylon can be recycled infinitely without losing its quality and help drive the industry towards a circular future. Many fashion brands from high-end designers to sportswear are already hooked, and by using this fabric, participate in reducing the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90%. Sadly, regenerated nylon cannot avoid the shedding of microplastics, although Aquafil is committed to finding ways to minimise pollution through scientific research.

Replacing plastic with natural fibres

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