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Green Is The New Black

Sustainable Underwear & Bras: A Guide to Planet-Friendly Intimates

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sustainable underwear

Ever since we entered the world of WFH, it seems that our bodies have new requirements, namely, comfort and durability. This starts with our undies. It doesn’t matter how cosy that loungewear set is if you’ve got a constant wedgie or you’re sweating through a synthetic bra. Fortunately, there are a ton of sustainable underwear brands out there, focusing on everything from sexy lingerie, you didn’t know could be planet-friendly, to keeping our private parts healthy.

The sustainable underwear arena has grown exponentially over the last few years, offering us not just one type of eco-friendly knicker or bra, but a whole array of ‘em. Brands have branched out, exploring sustainable materials, innovative production techniques, and how to solve common undie problems so that we can have our pick, whether we’re feeling luxe Italian lace or minimalistic cosy cotton. Let our guide lead you through this wonderful new world, one undergarment at a time!

 

NICO

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, GOTS Certified cotton, fair labour, size-inclusive, female-owned

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made and based in Australia

NICO have managed to bridge the gap between minimalist and individualist. The Aussie brand offers subtle-cool underwear sets in gorgeous hues – think lilac triangle bras and marigold high-waisted briefs. They use GOTS Certified organic cotton, which limits the amount of chemicals and water used in production, and LENZING Modal, a fibre made from replenishable beech wood that has a carbon-neutral production process. NICO’s socks are also crafted from regenerated yarn and made of 54% recycled cotton, and the brand has a chemical-free dyeing process, using 100% plant-based ingredients. Lastly, NICO’s factories are WRAP-certified, meaning they adhere to safe, lawful, and ethical production. Right on!

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Organic Basics

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, GOTS Certified cotton, eco-friendly packaging, transparent, fair labour

Collections: Womens, mens

Origins: Made around the world, based in Denmark

Conscious, cosy staples abound at Organic Basics. The Danish brand offers high-quality undies (including nine different bra shapes) made from materials with a low environmental footprint and a high life span, such as TENCEL, organic cotton, and recycled nylon. The factories Organic Basics have partnered with (all of which you can ‘visit’ through their website) are safe, pay a living wage, are free of child or forced labour, and offer perks such as free lunch and childcare. The brand is also super transparent, publishing its impact report online. Going a step beyond, Organic Basics also runs The Low Impact Project – a photographic journal exploring what people are doing to reduce their environmental impact – and offers users the option of visiting its ‘low impact website’ which reduces data transfer, thereby using less electricity and resulting in less emissions!

Shop here

 

Cosabella

Ethics: Sustainable fabrics, recycled fabrics, size-inclusive, giving back

Collections: Womens, maternity

Origins: Made in Italy, based in USA and Italy

Sustainable underwear doesn’t have to be basic, as proven by Cosabella. The brand, founded by a husband and wife duo in 1983, pays homage to its Italian roots, offering luxury underwear created by local artisans in family-run workshops. Using traditional Italian techniques (including those from the Renaissance era!), Cosabella’s makers lovingly handcraft beautiful garments, ranging from mesh panel bodysuits to lace nursing bras, using sustainable fibres that otherwise would’ve been tossed. The brand offers over 100 colours, which are created using natural dyes and water from the Alps. Nope, it couldn’t get any dreamier! Cosabella also offers a discount to nurses, first responders, military personnel, and military veterans as a thank you for their service.

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Wama

Ethics: Sustainable materials, OEKO-TEX Certified, vegan, fair labour, transparent, size-inclusive

Collections: Womens, mens

Origins: Made in China, based in USA

WAMA is on a mission to make the best hemp underwear around – and for good reason. Not only is hemp the world’s most sustainable fabric, but it’s also anti-bacterial, anti-odour, breathable, durable, has UV protection, and gets softer with each wear. Oh, and it takes half the amount of water to grow than cotton! WAMA offers the classic range of women’s undies and two simple bra shapes made from hemp and organic cotton blends. Its factories are in China (the leader in hemp textiles) and adhere to fair wages, safe working environments, and employee care. The brand even has a team member located in China to oversee production and ensure transparency. Additionally, WAMA is partnered with a load of great organisations including PETA, the National Hemp Association, and Green America.

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Sokoloff

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, OEKO-TEX Certified, size-inclusive, female-owned

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made and based in Montreal

If satin triangles in mint and lace balcony bras in champagne are your thing (and really, why wouldn’t they be?), Sokoloff is your soulmate. The brand is all about beautiful, feminine underwear – and the beautiful woman wearing it. Sokoloff is big on body positivity (they forgo padding so that your true body shape can shine) and female empowerment, using models of different ages, shapes, and backgrounds. Sokoloff also has collaborations with other brands, such as Addition Elle, offering bodysuits and babydolls in sizes L, XL, and 2X. The company primarily uses organic cotton, recycled spandex, and bamboo, and has a Responsible Sourcing Collection which features garments made only of recycled materials. Sokoloff also donates all of its fabric scraps to a paper-making stationery studio in Montreal.

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Knickey

Ethics: Sustainable materials, GOTS Certified cotton, OEKO-TEX Certified, chemical-free, Fair Trade International Certified, fair labour, end of life recycling programme, transparent

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made in India, based in NYC

Have you ever bought undies based on what was good for your vagina? Yeah, neither have we. But Knickey is here to change that. Hoping to combat yeast, vaginal, and bladder infections brought about by synthetic fabrics and toxins found in underwear, the brand uses organic cotton, free from harmful chemicals, colourants, and carcinogens, to create its classic range of thongs, hipsters, bikinis and briefs (which are available at low-, mid-, and high-rise lengths). While the styles are simple and sturdy, they’re offered in a diverse palette of colours including butterscotch, pomegranate, and peach. Knickey is also happy to take your undies back once they’ve reached the end of their life cycle so they can be recycled properly and turned into new materials. The garments are made in Fair Trade Certified Factories in India, and Knickey’s sustainability promise and progress (including its impact report) can be found on its website.

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Thunderpants

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, Fair Trade materials, eco-friendly packaging, fair labour

Collections: Womens, mens, kids

Origins: Made in India, Australia, and New Zealand, based in New Zealand

The wedgie problem is real, and we’re not the only ones who think so. New Zealand brand Thunderpants has taken on the challenge of creating comfortable underwear that won’t go up our bum – and is planet-friendly. Every item is made from Fair Trade Certified organic cotton and non-toxic dyes, and reflects the company name – i.e. colourful, kooky, and cool! We love these Zen Lines undies, as well as, y’know, every single other pattern they offer. The brand’s undies are particularly perfect for our current WFH situation. Hello comfy crop tops and appropriately sized pants! Each part of the brand’s production process is traceable and tested, and its factories buy in bulk. The family-owned company also composts, repurposes deadstock fabrics, and uses recyclable mailers. They are big on ‘people over profits’ which means communal lunches, dogs at work, and fair wages.

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Boody

Ethics: Sustainable materials, OEKO-TEX Certified, vegan, eco-friendly packaging, innovative technology, transparent, fair labour, giving back

Collections: Womens, mens, kids

Origins: Made in China, Vietnam, and India, based in Australia

Boody is sustainability central. The brand creates ultra-simple, light and comfy undies in viscose and Lyocell, both of which come from organic bamboo. These guys know that bamboo’s where it’s at considering it’s anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic, breathable, and has thermo-regulating qualities (we’re talking chilled in the summer and toasty in the winter!). The brand is so serious about its impact on the earth, its factories (which are WRAP Certified, ensuring fair labour) use computer knitting machines to create the garments, avoiding fabric waste, and recycle and reuse all water used in the production process. Boody is also into giving back: it’s a member of the 1% for the Planet programme and is partnered with Thread Together – a charity that works with retailers to help Australian’s who are living rough.

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Uye Surana

Ethics: Chemical-free, eco-friendly packaging, small-batch manufacturing, size-inclusive, female-owned, transparent

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made in Colombia, based in New York

Finding the perfect bra fit can be a real slog. You know how it is, one shop says you’re this size, another measures you totally differently. Don’t give up yet though – Uye Surana’s here for you. The American brand makes bras and bralettes using patented technology, creating perfectly tailored bands and cups for your shape and size. The company also offers Easy Fit sizing, meaning every bra has special adjustable details to maximise fit and support. All of this technology talk doesn’t mean that Uye Surana’s offerings are basic, though. In fact, far from it. See: this Floral High Neck Bralette and these Thigh High Queen Bee Stockings. All garments are made in a small, family-owned factory in Colombia and all of the printing is done by hand in NYC, avoiding waste-water and excess dye. The brand manufactures in small batches to avoid waste and employs anti-rip material to ensure that the prints remain intact, giving the garments a longer life.

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Proclaim

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, OEKO-TEX Certified, eco-friendly packaging, inclusive, fair labour

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made and based in L.A.

Proclaim has something to proclaim (ahem): there is not just one type of nude, y’all. The American company offers underwear in three different shades of nude and a fantastic range of sizes. Proclaim uses Tencel and Repreve (a polyester fibre made from recycled water bottles) to create double-layered bralettes, briefs, and reversible bodysuits, to keep our bods and our planet supported and happy. One bralette diverts three plastic bottles from landfill, while a bodysuit diverts a whopping 15 bottles. The packaging is not only recycled but also reusable – mailing envelopes come with a dual adhesive strip for reuse.

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Bum-Cake Vintage

Ethics: Circulatory, size-inclusive, female-owned, black-owned

Collections: Womens

Origins: Based in NYC

Who says that your lingerie has to be brand new? Bum-Cake Vintage sells beautiful second-hand bloomers, rompers, slips, and bodysuits – many of which have been made by high fashion designers such as Oscar de la Renta. Keeping these garments in circulation means that they avoid being sent to landfill, which isn’t only a loss for the planet, but for the time, effort, and skill that has gone into making these still-wearable beauties, too. Hooray for living out our sultry 60s boudoir dreams, conscious style! The brand is transparent about the condition of each item and uses a diverse range of models to show them off, also voicing its support for women’s empowerment and body positivity.

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HARA The Label

Ethics: Sustainable materials, chemical-free, OEKO-TEX Certified, eco-friendly packaging, fair labour, size-inclusive, female-owned, giving back

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made and based in Australia

Started by Allie Cameron following a trip to India, HARA (which means ‘green’ in Hindi) is a celebration of the Earth. Its pieces are primarily made of bamboo and plant-based dyes, avoiding any and all hazardous chemicals. The brand keeps it simple in style, offering four different bra shapes and four different undie shapes, but each piece is available in a variety of colours. All HARA employees are protected by an Australian authority, entitling them to a living wage and a safe working environment. By manufacturing the garments themselves, HARA reduces its shipping miles (meaning less emissions), has full transparency over the production process, and has its own in-house recycling system. The brand also works with the Environmental Justice Foundation to support their projects (many involving pesticides and chemicals), which range far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Africa.

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Warp and Weft

Ethics: Sustainable materials, fair labour, size-inclusive, female-owned

Collections: Womens, mens

Origins: Made in Pakistan, based in NYC

Originally a staple sustainable denim brand, Warp and Weft decided to venture into underwear in 2019, taking their expertise in jeans and applying it to the garments that go under jeans. The family-owned brand has eliminated the things we hate most in undies – sag, panty-lines, limited sizing – and produced a collection of what we like to call ‘super underwear’. Each pair of undies is created from 95% LENZING Modal and 5% cotton and is made for wearing under fitted jeans, meaning they’re comfortable, seamless, and retain their shape. And that’s the case for every customer too – Warp and Weft offer undies in sizes ranging from 00 to 24 and in various shades of nude. The brand is also big on water conservation, recycling 98% of the water it uses.

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sustainable underwear

Eco Intimates

Ethics: Sustainable materials, GOTS Certified cotton, small batch production, eco-friendly packaging, size-inclusive, female-owned

Collections: Womens

Origins: Made in Bali and Australia, based in Australia

Reppin’ the fantastic craftsmanship found in Indonesia, Eco Intimates creates intricately detailed underwear that cares. The brand handmakes its garments in small, family-run studios in Bali and sometimes Australia, ensuring ethical production and high quality. Eco Intimates uses low-impact dyes and organic cotton and silk, basing its designs on the fabrics that are available and purchasing trims from remnant suppliers, meaning it only uses what has already been made. The pieces that come out of this process are unique and always gorgeous, from silk bralettes in chinoiserie patterns to ruffle knickers in polka dot prints (our favourite for their feminine, frilly vibe!). The founder, Madonna, has also ensured that women of all sizes are covered, offering bras specifically for each cup size. The brand ships items in compost bags and tough paper bags, both reusable, recyclable or compostable, and has requested biodegradable plastic-free options from DHL.

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WORON

Ethics: Sustainable materials, recycled materials, GOTS Certified cotton, OEKO-TEX Certified, vegan, chemical-free, fair labour, female-owned

Collections: Womens

Origins: Based in Scandanavia

Sleek lines, simple concepts, high quality; Scandinavian style is something we can’t get enough of. WORON delivers on all fronts and more, with its long-lasting, sustainable vegan underwear. As well as using organic cotton, WORON also utilises LENZING Modal. The brand’s designs are simple with small flourishes, for example, a soft-cup with criss-cross straps or a triangle shape trimmed with lace. As for their production, WORON mainly works with a female-run, family-owned factory in Hungary, which has strict regulations regarding working hours, pay, and supporting working mothers. The brand also partners with green, family-owned factories in Italy and Turkey.

Shop here

 

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Sarah is a British-Chinese journalist. She has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and websites for the last nine years, first in London and as of 2016, in Hong Kong. As well as working in journalism, Sarah also runs her own editing business, proofreading for academics, small businesses, and NGOs. An avid fan of the planet, she’s eager to champion brands doing their bit and be a part of the bigger conservation conversation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, consuming very British quantities of tea and (vegan) biscuits, and befriending the local dogs on the small island she calls home.

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