Have you been skinny dipping?
Might I suggest that you take up the habit? Not just because it’s terribly freeing to do so but because gosh it would solve the swimsuit shopping conundrum fairly quickly.
If swimming buck naked is not your cup of tea—or if you frequent beaches that require a bit of coverage—here’s a sequel to the original swimsuit post that I put together two summers ago. It includes a few more companies that are fresh on the scene, or new-to-me, or otherwise doing interesting things with swimwear.
In my original post, I make the argument that the most sustainable swimsuit is probably the one you actually wear. Swimsuits need to be stretchy to fit right, tough enough to withstand frequent dunks in water (chlorinated or otherwise), and resilient enough to retain their shape. This means that most every swimsuit is made from a combination of polyamide nylon or elastane or polyester or a combination of all three. All of this stuff is derived from petrochemicals. All of it requires quite a bit of heavy-duty processing and dyeing to make it wearable. And, still another bummer, microfibers shed from polyesters and other synthetic fabrics are nearly impossible to filter out of the water they’re washed in and end up polluting our waterways. Humans strike again, in other words.
Still, a bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way. Swimsuit shopping can be fraught enough as it is and I’m not hoping to make it more complicated for anyone. I’ve tried my best to round up suits from companies that use alternative or recycled materials, that pay their workers a fair wage, that design with longevity in mind, that collaborate with artists, that try their best. Here goes:
Ambika Boutique: If you’re hoping to go an extremely eco-friendly route, and have deep pockets, the handwoven crocheted cotton swimwear from Ambika Boutique is a wonder to behold. The very precious made-to-order swimwear comes in a variety of colors—customers can choose from more than 25 different colors—and is made with 2% elastic to help with fit. The Full Body One Piece features a simple front and beautiful criss-cross closure in the back. For folks who prefer a two-piece suit, the French Top and High Waisted Lace Up Brief Bottom make up a classic pair. Made in Upstate New York.
Andie: To help solve the ever-present conundrum of swimsuit shopping, Andie provides customers with a set of three basic one-piece suits to choose from. You can order a set, try them on, keep what you’d like, and send the rest back. You only pay for what you keep. I think I’d keep the Tulum. Andie one-pieces are designed by women and made in a woman-owned factory in Los Angeles. Made in LA using fabric milled in North Carolina.
Camp Cove: This Australian company celebrates retro-styling and a range of size and coverage options (they don’t mince words in describing their “big boobies” styles, for instance). Linings of all suits are made from recycled fabrics; black styles like the Annie Full Piece are made entirely from recycled materials. Designed, printed, and sewn in Australia.
Her.: I’ve been seeing these suits pop up on some of my most stylish friends and there’s lots to like about the super minimalist designs of these suits out of Australia. The Italian-made fabric is chlorine-resistant and offers 50+ UV protection. I love the Romy. Made in Australia of Italian fabric.
Lina Rennell at Beklina: Another synthetic-free option, these vintage-inspired beauties are made of double-layered organic cotton and can moonlight as body suits, if you’re so inclined. Also available in Italian Lycra. Made by hand in California.
Mara Hoffman: Characteristically bright and graphic, Mara Hoffman suits are always cheery for pattern lovers. I love the cut of her high-waisted bottoms and simple tops. Fabric is SPF 50. Made in the USA of Italian fabric (recycled polyester/spandex blend).
Minnow Bathers: These simple, hardware-free bathing suits are handmade to order by a team of women in Toronto. One dollar from each purchase is donated to Save Our Seas, a foundation that pursues solutions to maintaining healthy oceans. I’m personally extremely taken with the Midnight Narcissus print. Minnow also collaborates with artists to create unique fabric for limited edition bathing suits. Currently, they’ve collaborated with Darby Milbrath, a Canadian artist whose painting, Lotus Pond, is featured on a limited edition swimsuit. Handmade in Canada.
Shoshanna: Cult-favorite swimwear line with lots of choices made from recycled polyester. The water colored floral pattern on the Botanical Floral Twist One Piece is romantic and sweet. It has removable cups and is fully lined. Made in the USA.
Thief & Bandit: These guys have more nature-inspired prints for pattern lovers. Each swimsuit is made to order with ChitoSante fabric, an environmentally friendly treatment made from crab/and or shrimp shells that’s naturally anti-bacterial, too. The Desert Floral Bikini set features flattering high-rise bottoms and a bralette top. I also love the Thistle print. Handmade in Halifax, Novia Scotia, Canada.
Whip Appeal of Sweden: These suits are little more graphic than I’d typically go for, but they’re fully reversible, made from recycled polyester, and Whip Appeal collaborates with artists to design the pattern on each suit. No hardware for maximum comfort. Sold at Tictail on the Lower East Side (and online!). All purchases at Tictail support emerging artists and designers around the world.
Note: The swimsuit pictured is the high-waisted bottoms and halter top from Bikyni. Alas, it’s not currently in stock. See the original swimsuit post for more on this suit and for lots of other options. And as always, chime in with any others you don’t see on these lists!