If you're invested in sustainable fashion, here's why you should start with sustainable underwear (and the brands to shop from).
Passing the long line into Penney’s a few weeks back, my boyfriend turned to me and asked, with genuine curiosity in his voice, “what do people need in there that they couldn’t get during lockdown?”
He just couldn’t fathom it, with so many online outlets now, as well as plenty of similar-quality supermarkets leaving their doors open during Covid thanks to their grocery section. I didn’t have a sufficient answer for him, the only thing I could think of was “cheap underwear and socks?”
I’ve been trying to buy less and more ethically, but it’s hard with underwear. For starters, they’re not particularly thrilling to shop for (I’m referring here to everyday underwear) and they’re invisible, so no one is going to compliment you on your stunning seamless knicks, to which you can retort, “thanks, they’re made of bamboo”.
It’s grim to admit that maybe that’s why I might pick up my basics from the usual suspects rather than seeking out alternative options.
But there are some gorgeous sustainable underwear options out there, both for everyday wear and more special occasions – and they will definitely last longer than the poorly stitched high street options out there that go grubby and loose after one wash.
This Danish company was founded with sustainability at its core. All of the decisions they make, from fabric and materials to factories, packaging and delivery, are made based on their environmental impact. Even their website has a low impact version that minimises its own carbon footprint as you shop.
They use certified organic cotton, recycled cashmere, wool and nylon, as well as environmentally responsible technical fabrics like Tencel and Polygiene for all their simple designs, which reflect a Scandinavian design ethos of muted colours and clean shapes. Underwear starts from €33 for a pack of two, and bras from €40.
Designed, made and stocked in their all-female London studio, Lara Intimates focuses on quality over quantity. With just two bra designs, the team have put their focus on creating the perfect bra for any shape – and based on the rave reviews of the Ava (above) and the Wren bras, they have succeeded.
They also have a wide array of sizing from a 26A to a 36I and are made using responsibly sourced, local materials. They also use every shred of their fabrics, ensuring no dead stock goes to sit in landfill. They've also got a collection of sheer underwear options to match. Underwear from around €23 and bras from around €42.
Made using organic cotton and a supersoft patented material called DYGwood, made from pine fiber, You Do Green is a French ethical fashion brand. All made in France with antiperspirant design, their underwear collection uses recycled Calais lace and they have a huge range of cuts, styles and colours to suit any bra shape.
In keeping with classic French style, DYG's underwear don't look like your typical sustainable collection, the DYGwood fabric having a satin-like finish. Their sizing, however, is limited, ranging from a 32A to a 36C. Underwear starts from €15 and bras from €25.
A UK-based charity, Kerala Crafts works to support communities of women and children in India, working with a local women's co-operative to employ local craftswomen in jobs that pay above-average pay with a welfare system, and putting profits towards an orphanage and schooling for local children.
They're a bit low on stock following Covid-19, but keep an eye for updates on this gorgeous fairtrade cotton undies. Underwear from about €10 plus postage.
If you're looking more towards the lingerie end of the spectrum but will want to keep the sustainable element, then check out German brand Underprotection. Their tag line is "ethics and aesthetics" and their underwear offering follows suit, with some truly gorgeous little numbers.
The brand works with only certified fairtrade factories, using recycled or sustainable materials and it's mostly vegan-approved. Those that aren't are as a result of reusing materials or waste resources. Available in a range of colours and shapes, from pale pinks to deep blues and bright greens, Underproduction creates sustainable designs that are also luxurious and glamourous. Sizes range from 30A to a 40E. Underwear starts from €14 (in the sale) and bras from €20 (in the sale).
Recently introduced to Brown Thomas, Stripe & Stare is a UK-based lingerie brand using a patented Tencel fabric made from beechwood. Completely compostable yet very hardy, they have a fun range of colours and prints, including a hot pink flamingo number.
Production currently takes place in one factory in China, which the founders visit regularly. Sizes range from a 30A to 36D. Underwear from €19 and bra from €31.
A former lingerie buyer in London, Georgia Larsen decided to combine her technical knowledge of comfortable bras with her design mind to create comfortable yet chic underwear. Using recycled yarns, organic cotton, and non-toxic fabrics that they source as offcuts, the brand has a very low carbon footprint.
Working with one factory in China that is 70% female and all staff receive a living wage or higher, depending on skill sets. Sizing ranges between a 32A and a 38C. Underwear from €20 (in the sale) and bras from €58.
Irish brand Stór works with a specialist manufacturer to create their bamboo men's underwear. Blended with organic cotton, they aim to bring luxury and sustainability to everyday clothes, from underwear and socks to t-shirts and accessories.
Featured image via Organic Basics
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