While traditionally fitness wear has been made from non-biodegradable fabrics like nylon and polyester, in recent years we’ve seen an influx in sustainable activewear brands. From plastic bottles to bamboo fibres, brands are looking for new materials to produce workout gear that’s not only performance-driven and stylish, but kind to the planet. Here’s our pick of the best eco-friendly athleisure producers.
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TALA was an instant success when it launched in 2019 – the debut collection sold out in just 20 minutes. The brainchild of fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley, TALA’s ultimate aim is for products to be made from 100 per cent upcycled materials. Just a year after launching, they’re 92 per cent of the way there. Pieces are created from recycled plastic bottles and factory offcuts, and all packaging and product labels are recycled and can be planted or composted. They sell everything from leggings to sports bras to headbands, with colours ranging from chic greys to bold neons.
Sustainability is at the core of BAM, which is centred around clothes made from bamboo. A naturally eco-friendly material, bamboo absorbs five times more carbon than hardwood trees, and needs half the land cotton needs to produce the same amount of fibre – without needing irrigation or pesticides. It also happens to work well as a performance fabric. The gym wear range includes everything from shorts to socks to our favourite: the super-soft leggings, which come in many different bright, bold patterns and colours – perfect for yoga.
This chic brand is produced in London, meaning founder Claire Turpin can regularly visit the manufacturers to check on production and quality. The product range – which includes sports crops, vests and leggings – uses super-soft textiles fashioned in Italy from ECONYL (repurposed nylons), ocean plastics and recycled cotton, meaning everything is sustainably produced. This doesn’t compromise performance though: fabrics are put through strict quality tests to ensure items provide the correct support, breathability, compression and shape retention. It’s all ultra-stylish too, with bright colours and flattering fits.
Pioneering activewear brand Nimble originates from Australia’s sunny Bondi Beach, but last year they launched in the UK – you’ll find it in either Selfridges or Browns. All Nimble items are made from recycled plastic bottles, which are cleaned, melted into pellets, spun into yarn and knitted with spandex – so far they’ve saved 800,000 bottles from going into landfill. Items come in compostable poly bags, while swing tags are made from recycled PET and organic cotton. The range includes everything from tank tops to outerwear to bags, but our top pick are the leggings: lightweight yet hard wearing, with a flattering waistband.
Tread lightly on the planet with a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes, designed to mimic the natural shape of your foot – allowing the feet to move more naturally. Not only is there zero bio-mechanical interference, there’s zero impact on the environment. This year, the brand is working towards its goal of using 100 per cent recycled, natural or biosynthetic materials in its products, such as recycled PET bottles and BLOOM, the latest in algae-based alternative materials. Choose between a range of different types of workout shoe, including running trainers, gym trainers and tennis shoes.
Emma Watson is among the ever-growing fan base of sustainable Sydney-born brand Boody. Inspired by simplicity, designed for sustainability, this brand is distinctive for its certified organic bamboo-based fabrics. ‘Bamboo is naturally silky soft but also thermo-regulating, meaning you stay cool in summer and warm in winter,’ explains founder Shaun Greenblo. These fibres are particularly helpful for exercise, as they contain mico-gaps, which provide ventilation and moisture absorption to keep you cool and dry during your workout.
Paving the way for sustainable footwear brands is Giesswein, which makes trainers from merino wool, a temperature-regulating fabric with sweat-proof qualities. The brand prides itself on its zero-waste production process: products are made using recycled water and renewable resources, paying particular attention to resource-saving production methods.
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