This week at aware_ we’re thinking about how to keep active, whilst considering the well-being of our planet. Traditionally, brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma have dominated the sportswear market but as consumers become more conscious of their purchasing power, sustainable activewear brands are on the rise. It’s not just recycled fabrics that are getting a look in here – whether it’s the development of bean fibres or incorporating natural dyes, these sustainable activewear brands are thinking firmly outside the box.
aware_ presents 5 ethical brands here for your comfort, and for the future of our planet.
When the founder of the sustainable activewear brand Girlfriend Collective, Ellie Dinh, struggled to find ethically-manufactured activewear, she decided to jump on the gap in the market and found a brand herself. Together with her husband, Quang, the pair founded a brand that embraces size inclusivity and ethical manufacturing – you guessed it, perfect pieces to wear with your girlfriends. From day one Dinh has prioritised transparency. Fatigued by the headlines flashing empty promises of sustainability, Dinh persevered to develop products with substance.
Girlfriend Collective incorporates a number of recycled materials in its design process. For their t-shirts and tank tops, Girlfriend uses Cupro: a delicate material created from waste leftover from cotton production. The brand’s signature LITE leggings employ ECONYL® yarn: a fabric made from recycled fishing nets. Choosing the right factory to build a partnership with was a crucial element of the transparency journey for Dinh, each piece of activewear is manufactured by a family-owned factory who have been in the textile trade since 1931. If you’re hungry for more tasty eco information, we recommend having a scroll through their website, where you’ll find a treasure trove of information.
The slow fashion activist, and founder of Berlin-based brand The Slow Label, Anna-Laura Kummer is guided by her grounding principles. An advocate for conscious consumption and prioritising a transparent supply chain, Anna-Laura and her team create tactile, carefully-made pieces to get you moving at your own pace. Whilst the other brands tailor their sustainable activewear for high-intensity workouts or a long Sunday run, The Slow Label pieces provide relaxed styles, keeping you comfortable for a stretch on the yoga mat or an hour of gentle pilates. The unisex sweatpants are made from 100% organic cotton, manufactured in one of their partnering factories in Lithuania.
A quick scroll through the website takes you to a detailed article by Anna-Laura on the factory in question, complete with a healthy list of information supporting the brand’s efforts in transparency. This particular factory’s sustainability achievements include being powered exclusively by green energy, recycling 100% of its wool pattern wastes, and managing to save 60% of its water use in the last three years. Another area of the website takes you to its brand page in which The Slow Label also showcases the work of other sustainable brands such as Girlfriend Collective and Organic Basics, if that isn’t true collaboration, we don’t know what is.
The Swiss sustainable activewear brand Seela Studio was founded by holistic health promoter Ida Skarp. Driven by a desire to create covetable workout pieces using bio-textiles, the founder launched a brand that prioritises both comfort and aesthetics.
‘I wanted to create a brand that reflects the modern woman’s activewear needs: functional, sustainable and timeless. Seela is the activewear you want to live in and gift to your best friend.”
Founder of Seela Studio
Each piece of Seela sustainable activewear is manufactured with the castor bean fibre Ricinus Communis, a wildly grown and sustainably certified fabric. Next to this, Seela only works with natural, botanical dyes which require low waste and energy consumption for the dyeing process. Manufacturing in northern Italy and employing only compostable packaging, Seela Studio is one to watch.
Tim Brown, the co-founder of New Zealand brand Allbirds, is not afraid of asking questions. A native of the country notoriously home to more sheep than humans, Brown couldn’t help but question why merino wool – a remarkably powerful material – had no place in the footwear industry. Teaming up with co-founder Joey Zwillinger, an expert in renewables, the duo created a pair of shoes crafted from natural, breathable materials. In the years since launching the first pair, Allbirds has become a firm favourite amongst champions of the sustainability movement. A quick scroll through your top 5 eco-influencers on Instagram and trust us, a pair will have a look in.
After painstakingly narrowing the supply chain, developing a tight-knit relationship with their factories and investing in the development of renewable materials, Allbirds began to explore the world of sustainable activewear. Offering a versatile range of both men’s and women’s sportswear, the brand incorporates fabrics such as TENCEL, hemp and organic cotton in their designs. And it doesn’t end there, by 2025 Allbirds hope to double the lifetime of each of their products and reduce its carbon footprint of raw materials by 25%.
Organic Basics is a firm favourite amongst the aware_ team. The Danish underwear and activewear brand founded by Christoffer Immanuel, Mads Fibiger, and Alexander Christiansen is an attempt to address one of the fashion industry’s biggest issues: a dirty reputation. The three sustainability enthusiasts wanted to create sustainable activewear that employed thoughtful, considered design, without compromising the wellbeing of our planet. From recycled nylon to breathable materials, Organic Basics activewear exists both in harmony with the wearer and with nature.
For those wary of greenwashing, an impact index is provided for each piece on the website; for example, their signature style, The Active Crop, prevented 1.6kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, conserved 25 litres of water and prevented 15 grams of waste from being generated.
(Header Image Courtesy of Allbirds)
– By Eliza Edwards