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Not-so-fun fact: fast fashion contributes more to the climate crisis than air travel and is the second most throwaway industry after oil. Textile production produces 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year, which is substantially more emissions than flights. We’re wising up and making better choices when it comes to our wardrobe.
Typically, activewear is made from planet-polluting plastics and synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon, none of which are biodegradable, while all are energy intensive in their production. In short, your grab-and-go gym leggings maybe squat-proof but they’re definitely not planet-proof.
Sportswear giants have finally got the memo. Adidas recently collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to create a lightweight trainer made from ocean plastic; Stella McCartney continues to be a fashion frontier with her biodegradable manicures and innovative textile-tech and Nike have brought out a “Reuse-a-Shoe” initiative to reduce their waste. Even Sweaty Betty has followed suit with their recycled-plastic leggings.
But long before the big brands caught on, smaller sportswear designers have been banging the biodegradable drum and calling for an eco-conscious approach to activewear, turning fishing nets, ocean plastic and used plastic bottoms into cute co-ords and sweat-resistant sets.
Gym wear is going green. Here are our favourite sustainable activewear brands.
In attempt to combat mass production, London-based Adrenna creates made-to-order, colour-blocked sets using technical eco-fabrics from Italy. You’ll have to wait 14 to 21 days for your custom creation to arrive, but their sustainable sports bras are one of the few options on the market that provide sufficient support.
Two guesses as to what’s the main material in Bamboo Clothing’s unisex garms? The plant packs as much punch in the sustainability sector as we do in our Kobox class. It’s the fastest growing plant in the world and only needs rainwater to grow. We’re not done yet – it also absorbs three times its weight in water, keeping sweat away from the skin and locking in water when it’s a bit nippy.
Championing body inclusivity, Tala’s mission is to create 100% upcycled activewear – and they’re 92% there. Slate-grey and oatmeal-coloured co-ords are made from recycled plastic bottles and factory offcuts, with all packaging and tags fully recyclable. We’ve got our eye on pieces from the Core collection, mainly because they lean more to Sunday brunch plans than sweaty gym sessions.
4. Silou London
Technical, well-tailored and made using non-toxic fabrics in ethical factories in Portugal and Lithuania, Silou London sets themselves apart with their range of signature pieces that’ll take you from spin class to coffee date.
Studio-to-streetwear Australian brand Nagnata gives us serious Clueless vibes with their retro short sets and houndstooth halternecks. The co-ords are created using a premium knitwear method (as opposed to the wasteful cut-and-sew technique favoured by fast fashion brands) to ensure there’s zero yarn waste and the sets last for years rather than just a few sessions.
Girlfriend Collective’s squat-proof, performance-driven leggings are each made from 25 recycled bottles – all sourced from Taiwan, a world leader when it comes to recycling – while 11 bottles go into their sports bras. These would have ended up in landfill sites if Girlfriend Collective hadn’t reconstructed them into bold, candy-hued sets.
Starseeds S Café range uses coffee grounds to construct high-performance unisex garments that simultaenously help save the planet by reducing waste. The coffee-knitted fabric locks in odour and acts as natural UV protection making this kit ideal for outdoor sessions.
Stocked in the Scandi colour palette of neutrals and the odd pop of rust, everything in this Copenhagen-based brand’s collection – yoga sets, underwear, sleepwear – is made from organic cotton. To make their garments long-lasting (and encourage less frequent washing, of which we’re always a fan) silver thread is woven throughout the garments to create SilverTech, a unique textile hybrid which has heat-regulating and odour-controlling properties.
Born in Bondi Beach, the capital of athleisure, Nimble uses pioneering MoveLite and Compresslite fabrics that have been constructed from post-consumer plastic bottles, spun into a yarn and knitted with spandex, meaning their high-waisted, ultra-compressing leggings are also super flattering.
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