A Guide to Sustainable Swimwear

Why we need to change our buying?

Historical big brand swim like Victoria Secret is struggling and this year their main company L brands(which owns Bath & Body Works and Abercrombie and Fitch) removed them from their publicly traded goods to a privately held company. The hope of the billionaires is that they can restore face to the brand that has shown 10% losses in recent years from cultural appropriation on the runways to poorly fitting bras and unethical manufacturing.

Currently it is speculated that Target is the largest swimwear leader with an estimated annual swimwear revenue of $15 billion. Their strategy to stay on top is the typical fast fashion model of a lot of cheap styles.

This year they have revealed an 1800 piece swimwear collection including "sustainable" styles. With big brands throwing this word out it can be hard to know if they are making sustainable.

Hint 1, Look at the price

$18.00 can not actually capture the cost to make materials, recycle materials, cut, assemble, and ship a product.

Hint 2, Missing information?

It says 90% recycled polyester but then it says 20% certified very small on the label. I also tried to research this certification and couldn't find anything to support it. Also always be wary of recycled polyester claims this isn't something that can be certified.


Ok, let's stop talking about the billionaires and,

talk about us!

What can you do for more sustainable swimwear?

1. Wear what you already have.

The most sustainable option is wearing the swimsuit

that you already have and using that item

until it is absolutely exhausted.

A quote I heard recently from Aja Barber in a talk

she did with the Slow Factory is

" You can't buy your way into sustainability"

2. Purchasing a second-hand swimsuit.

This is something that a lot of us cringe at

and think that its absolutely disgusting,

but really its no different than trying on a new swimsuit

you have no idea who tried it on the first go around. 👙


Recommend way of washing your swimsuit the first time.

  • Hot Water

  • Add mild detergent

  • add 3 tablespoons of vinegar (helps to get rid of any secondhand smell)


If you have to buy another swimsuit than one you already have,

Here's where to shop

1. Favorite Local Thrift Stores

  • APA

  • Top Drawer

  • Rags Consignment

2. Favorite Online Options

After much searching for online alternatives Thred-up had by far the most expansive collection of swimsuits for all sizes.

(These three were all below $15 and brand new with tags)

3. Favorite Good-Quality for Long Time Brands

If you want to invest in a swimsuit to wear for the next 5-10 summers these are some of my favorite brands.

BTW, Swimsuit Economics!

✔Big brand swimsuit $30-$50, lifetime 1-2 seasons (ends up being more expensive)

✔swimwear made ethically and to last $120-$200, lifetime 5-10 seasons

Zero Waste Daniel

  • Designed and manufactured in Brooklyn, New York

  • Made from scrap materials and post consumer waste fabric

  • Simple timeless design that is at a great price point $59 a piece


  • Designed in Canada

  • Manufactured in Mexico

  • Made with Econyl which is regenerated nylon that is pulled from the ocean

  • Uses a new technology Lycra XtraLife which is made from discarded regenerated cellulose and re-spun with a special design to increase the lifespan of garments by staying stretchy longer

  • This brand also uses a made to order option to reduce making more product than needed

  • For a new item this is a low-impact swimsuit based on its North America production and regenerated fibers

  • These swimsuits run about $100

Selfish Swimwear

  • Designed and manufactured in Canada

  • Made with fabric sourced from Korea and Italy

  • Fabric is nylon and lycra with a focus on using recycled fibers but the descriptions don't include the percentage of recycled content in each design.

  • Person of Color and Female owned business

  • Focus on body inclusiveness

  • Price point between $60-$100 they do have Sales!

Strange Bikini's

  • Designed and manufactured in small batches in California

  • Based out of my hometown- Reno, NV

  • Made with fabric sourced from Brazil that uses modern technology that requires less water for the weaving and dyeing process

  • Fabric is biodegradable polyamide (which is better for disposal at the end of life of the swimsuit)

  • Focus on body inclusiveness

  • Extra cheeky!

  • Price point between $60-$200 (monokini) they do have Sales!


Disposing of your old bikini

1. Is it still in good condition?

  • Ask a friend if they want it (it's time to recreate a sharing culture)

  • Can you sell it? (depop, Buffalo Exchange)

  • Donate it to a local small thrift store

2. It has reached the end of its life

  • If its made from biodegradable polyamide bury it in the backyard and let it decompose

  • Buy a Terracycle box... These are expensive $103 for an 11x11x20 box which puts into perspective the true cost of items if its that much to recycle it

  • A few years ago a local bill came up in Austin to expand recycling to include composting and textiles for more households and multifamily which the city council didn't approve. Hmmmm... maybe it's time to start a petition to let them know its something we want?