This Complete Guide to the Ethical Questions of Activewear, Athleisurewear and Yoga Clothing Includes Sustainability, Eco-Friendly, Future-Proofing, and Ethical Practices of Brands in the US, UK, Europe, and Around the World.
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Table of Contents
- The Ethics and Sustainability of Athleisure Wear
- Interviews About Sustainable Activewear
- Our Complete List of Ethical and Sustainable Athleisure Brands
We know the speediest and easiest option is never the best one for our long-term health and fitness, and it is the same with the health of the planet too. Slowing down fast fashion and making conscious choices when it comes to kitting out your workout wardrobe means you can do something good for your body and mind, whilst minimising your environmental footprint.
Although fashion is still one of the biggest threats to the environment, in the past decade many have woken up to the environmental impact of their rapidly changing wardrobes. And as consumer demands change, so does supply. Luckily, this means that many sustainable and ethical athleisure, sportswear, and yoga clothing brands have emerged and are ready to change the industry. So, whether it’s breaking a sweat or stretching it out, investing in your health and wellness doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet and it’s fellow beings. After all, those post-workout endorphins flow more freely when guilt isn’t an obstacle.
This guide will begin by covering questions regarding the ethics and sustainability of athleisure wear. We then have two inspiring interviews with entrepreneurs sharing their insights into the ethics and sustainability of gym wear and the innovative ways they’re changing the industry: Danielle King, founder of UK based brand KHIT collective, and Franziska Mesche, founder of Swedish based brand Tripulse. And to finish off, we’ll discuss ethical and sustainable activewear brands dominating the fitness market.
The Ethics and Sustainability of Athleisure Wear
Let’s begin by demystifying the ethics and sustainability of athleisure wear, so you know exactly what to look out for.
- Is activewear bad for the environment?
More generally, fashion is bad for the environment. And, unfortunately, as fast fashion brands dominate the industry, this means activewear is too. The World Wildlife Fund states that the industry is a major water consumer and polluter. In fact, it can take up to 2,700 litres to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. According to the fast-fashion documentary The True Cost, the world now consumes about 80 million new pieces of clothing every year – this is 400% more than the amount we consumed 20 years ago.
But, more than being as bad as all fast fashion, the fabrics that make up most activewear means it’s arguably one of the worst offenders. Here’s a challenge for you: get together all your gym wear and look at the labels, how many times does polyester come up? My guess is most, if not all, of the time. You see, activewear depends heavily on synthetic fibres such as polyester, spandex, acrylic or nylon.
These fabrics are derived from crude oil, a non-renewable resource that requires a lot of energy and chemicals during manufacturing. In 2015, the polyester produced for clothing emitted 282 billion kg of CO2 – nearly three times more than for cotton. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics produced in factories without proper wastewater treatment systems can release potentially dangerous substances such as cobalt, manganese sodium bromide and titanium dioxide into the environment.
And as these synthetic fabrics break down, they form tiny plastic threads called ‘micro-plastics’. An average washing load of 6kg can release an estimated 137, 951 fibres from polyester-cotton blend fabric, 496, 030 fibred from polyester, and 728,789 from acrylic. These microplastics then get washed into rivers and oceans to be digested by aquatic organisms with potentially toxic results. Ultimately, toxins from these microplastics can enter our human food chains and the wider environment.
- Is Activewear Ethical?
As 97% of the items we wear are made overseas, we have become increasingly disconnected from the people who make them. There are around 40 million garment workers in the world today, many of whom do not share the same rights or protections as those in the West, wearing the clothes they make, do. Factory workers often face inhumane hours without rest days or contracts, the exploitation of cheap labour, and human right violations.
The poor working conditions of garment factories was thrust into the spotlight in 2013 when 1,100 workers died and 2,500 were injured when an eight-story Bangladeshi factory collapsed. But little has changed, as workers are forced to work 12-14 hour days 7 days a week for well below a dignified wage.
The clothes you wear for your workouts are often produced in such conditions.
- What makes a clothing brand sustainable and ethical?
‘Ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are umbrella terms, and for fashion, they can refer to a range of different practices put in place throughout a brand’s production, retail, and purchasing. This includes issues such as fair working conditions and fair trade, environmentally sustainable production, animal welfare, thoughtful packaging and transportation, charitable partnerships, and activism. Sustainable and ethical brands aim for a more circular production line, rather than the common linear ‘make, use, dispose’ model, and distribute their clothing in a way that uses minimal resources and creates minimal waste.
- What is sustainable and ethical Athleisure?
Athleisure is fashionable apparel designed for workout and athletic activities whilst being comfy and fashionable enough for everyday wear. And so sustainable and ethical athleisure wear is sporty yet comfy pieces designed with longevity, recyclability, and care for the planet and its people in mind. Whilst traditionally athleisure wear has been made from non-biodegradable fabrics like nylon and polyester, many brands are innovating fabrics and production practices to provide consumers with high-performance gear without the guilt. Whether it’s organic cotton, recycled plastic bottles, TENCEL™, or bamboo fibres, more and more new materials are breaking into the scene.
- How to avoid Greenwashing?
‘Greenwashing’ is a term that refers to when brands market themselves as more eco-friendly than they actually are, using language that hugely exaggerates or obscures the truth. For example, ‘eco-friendly’ is a loose term that can mean a lot of different things, yet it is frequently plastered on products without any evidence or proof as to their sustainability practices.
There are a few things you can do to navigate green-washing claims and decipher whether the brand really holds sustainability at its core. The best way is to look for quantifiable evidence, such as the percentage of recycled materials in their clothes. Another way is to look for transparency. This is where a brand is explicit about any gaps in their production or the sustainable practices they are working towards but are not able to implement yet.
This may be sharing details of their factories and information of their workers, their progress over time, and their future brand goals. No brand is perfect, but honesty is vital when it comes to working towards creating fairer working conditions and more eco-conscious practices. Nothing can change when a brand hides or lies about the truth.
You can also use external resources to get an overview of the sustainability and ethical credentials of a brand. For a comprehensive list of organizations, certifications, and sustainability scores see our Complete Guide to Ethical Fashion.
Interviews About Sustainable Activewear
Many amazing athletic clothing brands are trying to alleviate some of these environmental and societal problems by doing things differently. Now let’s delve deeper into ethical and sustainable gym wear by speaking to two entrepreneurs in the industry.
KHIT collective is an innovative activewear brand based in Manchester, England, all about empowering women and positively impacting the world. Their gorgeous sets are designed to make you feel amazing inside and out, using high-performance fabrics and on-trend designs –all whilst being sustainable!
The brains behind the brand, Danielle King, has extensive knowledge of the industry which led her to realise that the way things were run desperately needed to change. Danielle spent 10 years working as a designer, helping some of the biggest online brands build the fast fashion model. She travelled the world and worked with multiple businesses across manufacturing, supply and retail. Prompted by her ‘behind the scenes’ insight, she founded KIHT collective in 2020 determined to do things differently. We caught up with Danielle, to pick her brain about all things fast-fashion, empowerment, and keeping ethics and sustainability at the heart of a business.
Hi Danielle! I’m really interested to hear how your extensive knowledge of the fashion industry inspired you to start an ethical and sustainable gym wear brand. Your slogan is ‘ethical gym wear for babes who care’ – could you start by sharing what ‘ethical’ and ‘care’ means for KIHT Collective?
For a health and wellness business, I always think how can you operate and promote looking after yourself, when there’s a lack of care for other people too? It’s about the whole chain. And so, the ethical approach is holistic across the business. Even in the way we shoot stuff. I don’t photoshop anything and I try my best to paint a true picture of different women as much as I can. Because this was a really big thing I saw in the businesses I worked with, and I just thought about the poor women that think this is what these people really look like, and what they should look like too, when it’s a heavily altered picture.
I also work with a charity Tree Sisters and for every order we plant a tree. But I picked this charity specifically because it works with women where the treatment of women is the worse across the world. They skill the women, look after them, and educate them so they can work and earn money. And hopefully, this will help narrow the gender equality gap. It’s an amazing charity and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
From the production point of view, I produce all my gym wear in Portugal in a small town north of Porto. That part took a really long time to get right in the business. When I found the supplier and the factories I wanted to work with, I flew out there to make sure everything was right. And they are just amazing. Having travelled the world going to factories and then to these ones – they are smaller but absolutely lovely.
One of the reasons I wanted to manufacture out of Portugal and not, say, China, is because I know how things are run over there. China is so massive, and each district does a different thing, so you find that the people who work in the factories also live in the factories. Not a lot of people realise this, but they have accommodation on site and the workers are not with their families for the majority of the year. It just didn’t really sit right with me. And obviously, I know that culturally everywhere is different, but I wanted all the businesses I work with to be small family-run businesses and local people working in the business. It’s things like that were important to me in the business because it is important to me as a person. I wouldn’t want to be working so far away and never be able to see my family.
And what about the sustainable side of the business? Is that also influenced by your personal knowledge of the fast fashion industry?
Yes, that’s another reason I wanted to produce out of Portugal. It’s the closest place I could produce and make it affordable. We’re sustainable because we’re lowering our carbon footprint. We’re not travelling around the world. And your garments haven’t done more travelling than most people. All the fabrics and the products are made in Portugal, and then we ship here, and so it’s a much shorter process. Also, all of our bags are recyclable or from recycled fabrics.
Something about the fast fashion industry that you don’t really hear about is ‘seconds’. Whatever order you place, the factory will always make more of it because they’ll make mistakes, or they’ll be little faults or marks on the fabric, and so as they go through the quality checks at the end some of them don’t make it. And they usually burn them or put them straight in a landfill because they’re not allowed to sell them on. We buy all our ‘seconds’ off the factory as well because that’s another big part of the wastage. I buy them all off the factory so they can be donated to charity because that’s part of the process that I know happens that a lot of people don’t realise.
One thing we don’t have at the moment, that I will be really honest about, is that our fabrics are not from sustainable sources yet. It’s just unfortunate as we’re a small business and so I can’t quite afford it yet. But I am launching a range from recycled fabrics. I am getting there. But it was the only way we could manufacture out of Portugal and I thought in the grand scheme of things it’s more important than recycled fabrics because I know I’ll get there with that. I can scale up.
Can you tell us a bit more about your products? Does the quality live up to the fast fashion brands you have previously worked with?
Absolutely. Portugal is the best place in the world to get gym wear from. They make the best fabrics. To be able to manufacture out of there was my dream and it took me a really long time to achieve it. And so the fabrics are amazing. Its compression wear as well; it sculpts and supports you beautifully. I’ve been in the industry a long time and I spent a lot of time working on my fits to make sure that all those things you know you need when you go to the gym are there. Feeling really supported and held in, high waisted so you don’t feel like you’re exposing yourself when you’re trying to do squats or something, and so you can focus on the work you’re doing at the gym. It’s the last place you want to feel uncomfortable really.
And in terms of colours, a big piece of being more sustainable is thinking long term over the short term, so I’ve gone for colours that will slot into your wardrobe really well. They are on-trend but aren’t those colours that will be in and out in a season. I’ve gone for macro trend colours that will be around for a while and you’ll get your wear out of them. And the whole range as well is designed to be entirely mix-and-match too. Because one of the most sustainable things you can do is wear your clothes, so I want to make sure you can pull anything out and feel confident in them. Because that’s the most important thing.
‘Activewear for babes who care’
Based: Manchester, UK
Product Range: women’s workout clothing and athleisure wear
Price Range: $
Size Range: XS – L
Ethos: ethical and sustainable production, empowering women, ethical partnerships, reduce waste
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A Discussion with Tripulse Founder Franziska Mesche
Tripulse is a Swedish based ethical sportswear brand that operates at the intersection of four pillars: function/ performance, environment, health, people and ethics.
Their sports clothes are high performance and designed to elevate your workout experience in a way that helps protect your environment and your health. They believe good health is the foundation of a good life and so create products that help maintain it, avoiding any toxic chemicals. And to ensure that no one in the supply chain has to suffer, they carefully select partners and suppliers who meet their strict criteria.
Founder Franziska Mesche has been both a long-time nature lover and avid sports fan. From running, basketball, HIIT, workouts, boxing, pilates and yoga – there is almost no workout or sport she doesn’t enjoy. Keen to help others find the benefits of being active, and inspired by Sweden’s exemplary role in putting sustainability high on the agenda, she knew it was time to contribute and so Tripulse was born. We talked to Franziska about the problem with plastic in gym wear, for both our health and the planet’s, and the way Tripulse is making positive changes in the industry.
Hi Franziska! Could you start by telling me a bit about what inspired you to create Tripulse?
I’ve always cared about sports, being outside, and being emersed in nature. And the more sports I did the more frustrated I got with the sports clothes I’m wearing, realising that almost all athletic wear brands use synthetics. I worked in tech for a while, and then took a break to travel and, basically, figure out what I actually want to do with my life. And so, I went to Asia to look more into the things I really care about: sports and health and sustainability.
I actually found out that the synthetics gym clothes are usually made from are plastic and made from crude oil. There are two major problems with this: the environment and health. When we wash the clothes, they release microplastics that go into the oceans as they don’t degrade for centuries and often have toxic chemicals as well. And when we do sports we sweat a lot, these substances can be absorbed by the skin and cause allergies or other mutagenic effects on the body. I realised myself and also other people in my network got rashes when they were working out and so it all started to make sense to me. This was the unique thing about sports clothes. It’s all plastic.
But also the fashion industry, in general, is so problematic. It massively contributes to climate change. It is very dirty, very polluted, and most of the clothes are done very cheaply in Asia to very unethical working conditions. And this whole picture I really didn’t support and wanted to do something. Because for me, I don’t like to just complain, I want to make a solution. I searched, went to experts, and so on, to try to find out an answer to the question ‘is there actually an alternative to synthetics?’ because obviously there’s a reason it is so frequently used. It’s functional, it’s cheap, and so forth.
How are the fabrics you use in your sportswear unique?
What I discovered is that on the market there are a lot of company’s offering clothes made from recycled bottles, and whilst reusing materials is good, it is still plastic. It still releases the microplastics, it doesn’t decompose for a long time, and you still have this health issue as well. And so I looked at other things like organic cotton and bamboo. These are nature-based solutions that are better, and bamboo is a renewable resource, so that’s good too. But I found out that when you make fibre out of bamboo you need to use a lot of chemicals and often harsh ones to break it down, so it’s not a very clean product when you want to put it on your skin. And then organic cotton, it is of course much better than normal cotton but it uses a lot of water and agricultural land as well to grow cotton that can compete with other crops. And performance-wise, I found cotton is not perfect for sports where you sweat more. It’s softer and so it is good for, say, yoga leggings, but I wanted sportswear which can be used by everybody. Good for yoga, but also for running and for high-intensity workouts too. This was a high ambition.
After a long time, I came across this certified wood fibre that’s a blend of eucalyptus, pine trees, and it’s called TENCEL™. And I found this material is perfect for what I wanted to create. It’s a renewable nature-based resource, and so we can wash our clothes multiple times and it doesn’t release microplastics or toxins. It’s also very skin-friendly because there are no toxic chemicals. It has naturally, and I highlight the word naturally, performance features. You don’t have to add harsh finishing which is often done in sportswear. It’s naturally antibacterial, very breathable, and what I find extremely amazing about it, is that it doesn’t smell and so you can wear your sports shirt a couple of times because the surface and fibre composition doesn’t allow bacteria to grow. When polyester smells it is because there are bacteria on it. It’s very clean and very non-toxic, which I think is amazing since it’s sportswear we wear directly on our skin, so no toxins are entering our system.
The production of TENCEL™. is also circular. They reuse 99.9% of the water and the solvent being used to reduce waste. It comes from certified forests. The production is very clean, it’s a circular non-toxic process. When you wear the actual product, it feels amazing and it’s not toxic for your body and you’re not wrapped in plastic. At the end of its life, it’s compostable, or you could recycle it of course, but the important thing is that you won’t leave harmful substances or microplastics in the environment.
For every stage of the garment, it’s very clean, sustainable, and non-toxic, and so for me, I was thinking, why is nobody using it?
You mentioned toxins entering our skin when we wear gym clothes, could you expand on the health side of synthetic fabrics?
I kept hearing cases of, and myself experiencing it, rashes, allergies, or undefined things happening on the skin when people are wearing these clothes. And so I came across some interesting research, and you can read my blog about it with links and sources, where studies were testing a lot of sportswear from different brands where they were comparing it with clothes made from nature-based fabrics.
They did lab tests and what they found was that the polyester clothing had a certain amount and quantity of certain chemicals, which you can see in the articles, and when they enter your body they can be absorbed by the skin. And when they’re absorbed by the body, what do they do there? Well in some cases they cause an external allergic reaction, but also have, unfortunately, mutagenic effects. Of course, it is always a matter of quantity, and it’s always a matter of accumulating over time. But the way I look at things is that I don’t want to put anything on my body that could harm me. I just want to make people aware that this isn’t necessarily healthy and we can never know what can happen. And so, when I create sportswear I don’t want to use materials that contain any of that and in the research, they found it was synthetics that was doing it. For me, making health-friendly activewear was very important alongside sustainability.
And it’s not healthy for animals either. When these microplastics are in the water and consumed by fish and turtles, it’s not just an empty particle that is there, there’s something in that particle and it’s toxic.
Can you tell us a bit more about your products and their quality?
I wanted to start with a women’s collection, so leggings, a t-shirt, and a tank top, in different colours. We tested a lot with athletes and different sports people but also everyday people who like to work out. We did some changes here and there to the fit because besides the sustainability and the ethical aspect, that’s super important. I wanted to create a product that really makes you feel great and supports you when you work out, as well as being super comfortable when you’re just going for a stroll. They’re very functional and very multifunctional.
This year, in April, so very very recently, we launched our webshop and now our first collection is available to the whole world.
And so I’m really happy it’s on the market now, but also it’s so nice to speak to you at Unsustainable Magazine because not many people know about this stuff at all but they should because education needs to be done on this topic.
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Product Range: women’s sports leggings, T-shirts, and tank tops
Price Range: $$$
Size Range: XS – XXXL
Ethos: remove harmful plastics, health-friendly, sustainable production, avoiding toxic chemicals
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Our Complete List of Ethical and Sustainable Athleisure Brands
Whether you are a weightlifter or a yogi, a gym goer or mountain climber, you don’t have to sacrifice your principles for high-performance gear. These brands are thinking outside the box to create solutions to problems in the fashion and activewear industry. Many also partner with charities and initiatives that may have a cause close to your heart. So there’s plenty of choices for sustainable and ethical activewear that lets you get moving in the way you love, whilst protecting the planet and its people.
‘Set yourself apart’
Based: Derby, UK
Product Range: women’s sports leggings, tank tops, and hoody
Price Range: $
Size Range: XS – L
Ethos: high quality, slow fashion, minimising plastic, safe and fair working conditions
Apex Gray makes ethical sportswear built to last. Replacements are bad for your pocket, and bad for the environment. And so, to ensure longevity, they stipulate globally recognised quality, safety and fabric traceability certification for all of their fabrics.
Being ‘fair’ is essential for Apexgray. They enlist independent auditors to go into their supplier factories. They scrutinise partners policies and procedures to ensure their workforce is safe and treated fairly. And they ensure their supply chain have the systems in place to manage and minimise their environmental impact.
Some of the ways they are minimising single-use plastic include specifying to their supply partners that garments are string tied and then packed in cardboard boxes rather than transporting them in individual plastic bags. They have transitioned to compostable shipping bags guaranteed to break down in 90 days and recently have introduced the Return & Reuse packaging incentive whereby they pay customers to return packaging in order to reuse it again. You won’t find any swing tags on new garments, as they use QR codes on wash labels to provide product information and reduce plastic.
‘Non-basic basics you can recycle when you’re done (a long time from now, of course)’
Based: Seattle, Washington, U.S
Product Range: Women’s workout clothing, athleisure wear, swimwear, and outerwear
Price Range: $-$$
Size Range: XXS – 6XL
Ethos: transparency, recycle and recyclable materials, slow fashion, ethical production, size-inclusive
Girlfriend makes sustainable athletic wear with materials that would otherwise clog landfills and pollute the earth: post-consumer water bottles. They source the bottles from Taiwan, which has helped remove mass amounts of waste resulting in rising living standards. And for the mums-to-be, they have a fantastic maternity range.
‘100% made in the future’
Based: Los Angeles, California, US
Product Range: women and unisex workout clothing, yoga clothing, and athleisure wear
Price Range: $$
Size Range: XS-XL
Ethos: non-toxic, recycled, hemp, localized, organic, fair wages, food-waste dyes
For innovative vegan workout clothes, check out Groceries apparel. They manufacture their own products in Los Angeles to ensure their standards are fully executed. Nature is at the centre of everything they do, and from day one their products were dyed with natural dyes including grass, beets and flowers. They support small farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and non-toxic, post-consumer ingredients. Their most recent range is all about reducing food waste, from using coffee grounds to carrot tops.
‘We’re here to help you align your purchases with your values; to live as the truest version of yourself.’
Based: New York, U.S
Product Range: women’s workout clothing, athleisure wear, yoga clothing and yoga mats
Price Range: $$$
Size Range: XS-XL
Ethos: comfort, transparency, mindfulness, polyester-free, carbon-neutral
Reprise believe that we should be mindful of the things we absorb through our mind and body, think twice about the products we buy, and avoid unnecessary plastics. Instead of focusing on the bad, Reprise advocate daily mindfulness as a way to create positive change. They want to replace fear-based decisions and actions with inspiring small habits that change your life for the better –starting with choosing sustainable and ethical activewear!
‘Slow Fashion. Sustainable Style’
Based: London, UK.
Product Range: Women’s gym wear and athleisure wear
Size Range: XS – XL
Price Range: $
Ethos: Accessibility, inclusivity, transparency, sustainable and ethical manufacturing
TALA take a slow fashion approach to sustainable style that doesn’t break the bank, or our planet. Their matching gym sets are comfortable, high-performance, flattering, and inclusive – so everyone can feel good whilst they work out. They are 92% upcycled, delivered in recycled packaging. Not to mention the tags are made from 100% plantable paper that will grow into trees. This brand is perfect for squat-proof sustainable leggings.
‘Synergy is not only committed to creating clothing with a minimal environmental impact, but also empowering men and women through ethical employment practices.’
Based: Santa Cruz, California, U.S
Product Range: women’s workout clothing, yoga clothing, athleisure wear, and outerwear
Price Range: $–$$
Size Range: XS-XL
Ethos: minimizing environmental impact, empowerment, ethical employment practices, family-run
Synergy is an ethical and organic yoga clothing brand inspired by the beautiful fabrics and textiles of South-East Asia. Creating clothing with a minimal environmental impact, and empowering men and women through ethical employment practices, is at the core of the brand.
‘We’re in business to save our home planet’
Based: Ventura, California, U.S
Price range: $$$
Size Range: XXS–XXL
Product range: men, women, and children’s outdoor sportswear, packs and gear
Ethos: durability, environmental and social responsibility, activism
Longevity and durability are key when you are off on an outdoor adventure, and Patagonia products are your go-to for durable outdoor sports clothes. As part of the organisation One Percent for the Planet, they commit to donating 1% of their total sales to environmental groups. They also have a Worn Wear guide to show you how to repair your own gear.
‘We’re on a mission to get the world moving’
Based: Austin, Texas, US
Product Range: men and women’s workout clothing and athleisure wear
Price Range: $$–$$$
Size Range: XXS–XXXL
Ethos: Longevity, circularity, transparency
Outdoor Voices is on a mission to get the world moving. They are a sustainable activewear brand freeing fitness from performance and bringing play back into everyday life, as they believe moving your body and having fun with friends is the most important way to stay happy and healthy. They make sustainable workout clothes from fabrics such as RecPoly (made from recycled PET), Merino (made from ethically sourced wool), and Mega Fleece (made from recycled wool). They are committed to only ever using packaging that is both recycled and recyclable.
‘Natural athletic apparel, microplastic free’
Based: The Hague, The Netherlands
Product Range: men and women’s workout clothing
Price Range: $
Size Range: XS – L
Ethos: High performance, natural fabrics, microplastic free
Iron roots make natural athletic apparel from fabrics that don’t release microplastics. Their fabrics have unique properties such as being antibacterial and antistatic, and so they’re great when you’re working hard and breaking a sweat. By working with factories that are dedicated to fair production standards, they ensure their workers are treated well.
‘Our mission is to build Earth’s Favourite Clothing Company’
Based: Boulder, Colorado, US
Product Range: women, men, and children’s yoga clothing and athleisure wear
Price Range: $
Size Range: XS–XXL
Ethos: organic cotton, Fair Trade, carbon offset, thoughtful packaging
Pact believes we should all work towards a world without toxic chemicals, sweatshops, or child labour. All their products start in fair trade factories that provide safe working conditions and empower and uplift local communities. Their products are made with organic cotton that saves vast amounts of water and uses no toxic chemicals. They offset the carbon footprint of your shipping and you can use the shipping box to donate old clothes to charities.
‘Purchase with purpose’
Based: New York, US
Product Range: men, women, and children’s workout clothing and athleisure wear
Price Range: $-$$
Size Range: XXS – XXL (with extended sized to 3X in some women’s products)
Ethos: ethical partnerships, sustainable materials, supporting communities, transparency
Threads 4 Thought know that every time you buy a product or support a brand, you’re casting a vote with your wallet. Therefore, they encourage you to ‘purchase with purpose’ and in line with your ethics and morals. To ensure fair working conditions, they work only with factories that hold the highest certifications in the industry. They use sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Lenzing modal. And, allowing their products to benefit in-need communities around the world, they are partnered with International Rescue Committee.
‘Made for mindful movement’
Based: Los Angeles, California, US.
Product Range: women and men’s yoga clothing, gym wear, athleisure and swimwear
Size Range: XS – XXL
Price Range: $$–$$$
Ethos: recycled fabrics, diversity, body positivity, carbon offset, reducing plastic, ethical working conditions
Wolven see being active as connecting to the environment, and so create activewear that gives back to the planet. Designed for nature-lovers, their prints are earth-inspired and designed to instantly transport you to the magic of the sacred outdoors. Their clothing is created from post-consumer recycled plastic and the brand removes a pound of plastic waste from the ocean with every purchase. They produce in small batches either in Los Angeles or in ethical factories in China.
‘We believe in and practice doing the right thing’
Product Range: Women’s yoga clothing, gym wear, swimwear, and athleisure
Size Range: XS – L
Price Range: $$-$$$
Ethos: upcycling, inclusivity, transparency, ethical production, sustainable fabrics
From planting trees to conducting beach clean-ups, Maaji are continually finding new ways they can help care for the planet. By ‘upcycling’, using residual materials that might otherwise end up in landfills, they apply creativity and innovation to collaborate with talent from around the world to create new and fresh collections. Another way they reduce fabric waste is by creating reversible and 4-way styles. This reduces individual item production, resulting in less CO2 emissions, water, and energy consumption.
‘Activewear for a better future’
Based: New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Product Range: men and women’s activewear and outerwear
Size Range: XS – XL
Price Range: $$
Ethos: simplicity, natural fabrics, family-owned business and family-owned factories, ethical working conditions
Tasc believe that wearing plastic to be active is a compromise you shouldn’t have to make, and so their fitness apparel is derived from bamboo rather than the usual synthetics. They have a 22-year relationship with a family-owned factory in India, that pioneers in fair and empowering workplace practices. This includes: an 18% higher wage then the local average, health care for all employees and their families, subsidized housing and food, integrated skill development and advancement, cultural events, and a recognition and training program for the disabled. In the month of May they donated a percentage of online sales directly to their factory to help pay for vaccinations, family care and socially distant living quarters.
‘Sand Cloud is on a mission to help save Marine Life’
Based: San Diego, California, US.
Product Range: women’s gym leggings, sports bras, and beach towels
Size Range: XS – XL
Price Range: $-$$
Ethos: marine conservation, sustainable materials, thoughtful packaging
Sand Cloud are passionate about protecting the oceans. They are committed to using sustainable and donating a portion of all sales to marine conservation charities. From packaging to products, everything is designed with sustainability in mind. Their charitable partnerships include Marine Conservation Institute, Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Marine Mamal Centre, San Diego Coastkeeper, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, and Ocean Connectors.
‘Clothing for Positive Change’
Based: Carlsbad, California, US.
Product Range: Men and women’s yoga clothing, climbing and hiking apparel, swimwear and athleisure wear
Size Range: XS – XL
Price Range: $$
Ethos: Animal welfare, inclusivity, circularity, climate change, fair trade, social responsibility, ethical fibres and materials
Prana believe that together, we can outfit our adventures with respect for the planet and its people. And so, from the farm to the factory and our closets, it is everyone’s responsibility to positively change the way clothing is made. They follow the 5 Freedoms Act – the gold standard in humane treatment of animals under human control. That means any farm-raised, animal-derived material they use must comply with a set of strict standards. They work to extend the life of their clothing and divert textiles from the landfill by repairing or renewing existing products, restoring their wearability before re-selling. And, with their Clothing for Positive Change movement, they ensure ethical production practices.
Based: Copenhagen, Denmark.
Product Range: Women and men’s gym wear and athleisure wear
Size Range: XS – XL
Price Range: $$- $$$
Ethos: innovation, organic cotton, ethical working conditions, low impact practices, activism and ethical partnerships
Organic Basics have an impressive range of sustainability initiatives – including a low impact website option. Their products are made in Europe with eco-certified materials. If you are looking to stock up on wearable pieces, their conscious everyday essentials can be brought in packs. From yoga pants made from recyclable materials, active wear with high performance properties, and loungewear made from soft, natural fibres, this brand covers all the basics.