The U.S. produces at least a billion pounds of used clothing each year. On top of this textile waste, the fashion industry is a massive polluter — wasting water while producing greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, undergarments like lingerie are no different. And while you can find some amazing vintage pieces, for the most part your underwear is not something you’ll be buying secondhand. And beyond an intimate piece of garment, lingerie can be a source of empowerment and confidence from within. Fortunately, there are some brands that are proving that looking good doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment.
Here are some of our favorite lingerie brands that have a sustainable or ethical ethos to check out!
NYC brand Araks aspires to sustainability in everything they do. They participated in the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative which provided mentorship around sustainability. Last fall they released a collection with the lowest carbon footprint they had so far. It’s made of 70% organic cotton and 30% upcycled cotton, which was processed with a “closed-loop.” This means that more than 99% of the solvent used in the process is recovered and reused, while all of the water is recycled. Their Econyl fabric used for the swim collection, on the other hand, is made of recycled nylon materials — such as abandoned fishing nets, and discarded nylon that would otherwise be thrown away. Aside from their ethos we love the soft vibe of their lingerie.
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Proclaim has a line of lingerie made of Tencel and Repreve recycled polyester, which is actually made from plastic bottles. Their garments are made in a facility following the strict standards of Los Angeles, and the employees are paid fairly by the hour rather than per piece. Their packaging — poly mailers, wrappers, and hang tags — are also made of recycled material.
Best for basics their sizes run from small to 3X
Follow @wearproclaim on Instagram
Uye Surana lingerie is sewn in a small, family-owned factory in Colombia that also follows ethical manufacturing guidelines. Meanwhile, the prints are hand-printed in their NYC studio using a technology that doesn’t require water and excess dyes to transfer. They are a slow fashion brand that makes the lingerie pieces in small batches to prevent overproduction. They ship orders using recycled mailers, boxes, and tissue paper.
Follow @uyesurana on Instagram
Only Hearts is a lingerie brand in New York that is made from local, deadstock, recycled, and certified green textiles like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton. They also follow other standards set by IMO (Institute for Marketecology) and ETAD (Ecological and Toxical Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers) — such as not using sodium hypochlorite in bleaching processes and only using dyes certified by the aforementioned orgs.
Follow @onlyhearts1978 on Instagram
Botanica Workshop is a slow fashion brand in Los Angeles that makes their lingerie in small batches to avoid overproduction. Their pieces are made of organic cotton and silk, as well as recycled nylon and trims. Best of all, they use domestic manufacturing in order to source and support small local manufacturers and artisans.
Follow @botanicaworkshop on Instagram
Based in Los Angeles, Clare Bare uses upcycled vintage fabrics and organic cotton. They also utilize Lenzing Modal, which is made from reconstituted cellulose of beech trees — a sustainable choice since beech trees breed by themselves with no special irrigation or planting needed. Most of their colors are hand-dyed using organic materials too. For example, they use Brazilian Logwood for purples and blacks, and Indian Lilac for pinks and reds.
The fashion industry is massive, and it may be difficult to navigate through all the trends and brands. However, it’s still our responsibility as consumers to try and educate ourselves regarding the products we use. Check out this article for great vintage lingerie options as well!
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