Traditionally, much of the flattering, figure-hugging activewear we have come to love has been made using non-biodegradable synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester, that are energy-intensive to produce and rely on fossil fuels, meaning, they are not kind to the environment.
The good news is that a number of savvy new sustainable labels are offering an alternative, with just as much support and as many style points, so you can be kinder to the environment the next time you update your fit kit.
To guide you on your way we’ve rounded up some of our favourites – they might not all be perfect yet, but these brands are making consciously smarter choices when it comes to materials and supply chain. Plus we’ve personally put items from each brand to the sweat test, so you can rest assured they’re worthy of your hard-earned cash.
London-based sustainable brand SOS Activewear uses material from regenerated ocean plastic and discarded fabric scraps to craft incredibly flattering workout gear.
The Vaquita Power legging (£75, above) provides a perfect high-waist and bum-sculpting shape. Our favourite item in the collection has to be the Minke Sports Bra (£55, also above) in blue with contrast white and black straps – it’s perfect for a lunchbreak yoga, barre or Pilates class while WFH. Also check out the brand’s chic sweaters made half from organic cotton and half from recycled fabric (£68).
Boody is an eco-friendly undies and activewear brand coveted by the likes of Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner. The brand uses organic bamboo to produce garments, a popular alternative to cotton that requires far less water to grow. All packaging is biodegradable and made using corn starch and vegetable inks. The best bit? Everything’s super affordable.
The Racerback Sports Bra (£29.95, above) features a scoop neck with thick straps for support and a silver overstitch detail. The fabric is antibacterial, moisture wicking and thermo regulating, making it a dream to wear mid-workout.
Reformation has just launched its first ever athleisure range, Ref Active – and it doesn’t disappoint. Coming in a muted palette of earthy neutrals, pale pink, pale yellow, pale blue and a hot coral and emerald green, the range is divided into two classifications, each of which is made using different materials. EcoMove is designed with your HIIT class in mind, with items made using a performance fabric, while EcoStretch is perfect for low-impact classes, like yoga and Pilates, or simply mooching around the house. Both are produced using Repreve, which is produced using 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
The collection features cute crop tops and tanks (from £52), bodysuits (from £74), bike shorts (from £52) and leggings (from £94). This might just be our favourite new activewear brand.
Seattle-born brand Girlfriend Collective uses recycled water bottles and fishnets that would otherwise go to landfill into premium-quality sports kit. Some 25 water bottles are recycled for every compressive legging, while 11 go into each bra.
Thought unitards were reserved for Jane Fonda 80s? Nope, actually they offer the perfect answer to chilly midriffs in the winter and also look weirdly cool, we love this moss green all-in-one (£78, thesportsedit.com).
Sets come in varying hues from burnt orange to teal and plum. We particularly love the length of the crops which doesn’t leave too much of a gap, and everything is reasonably priced, with crops starting at £35 and leggings coming in at £62.
London-based Grace Beverley launched TALA in May 2019, and it has quickly garnered a loyal Gen Z following. The brand’s best-selling collection, SkinLuxe, is made using 76 per cent recycled nylon and 24 per cent lycra and features a sweet-heart seam for subtle booty contouring and flattering high rise waistbands All packaging and product labels are recycled and can either be planted or composted.
The brand prides itself on affordability, with shorts retailing for £40 (shop here) and bras from £36 (shop here). Current classic colourways include Shadow Black and Tornada Grey, while Cedar and Copper (pictured above) will suit anyone already looking ahead to the summer months.
Manchester-born activewear brand Contur uses econyl yarn, which is made of recycled fishing nets and ocean plastic to produce sculpting leggings, shorts and crops. We love the shape of the new flattering Afresh v-neck crop, featuring a long-line silhouette and under band for support (£49.99, shop here).
Founder Claire Turpin created the range while struggling with her own body confidence issues and identifying a lack of shape-enhancing activewear on the market. Items come in varying hues, from bright yellow, to pink, navy, burgundy and khaki, meaning there’s something for every mood.
Luxury activewear brand Silou, founded by former model Tatiana Kovylina and yogi Phoebe Greenacre, creates activewear made of econyl; tencel, a fibre made from regenerated cellulose from trees in managed forests; Q-Nova, crafted from recyclable plastic fibres, and organic cotton. All of Silou’s products are also made in Europe in ethically responsible factories that are sweatshop free.
The brand is renowned for its chic two-tone bodysuits (from £199, shop here). Last year it dropped SEAMLESS, a slightly more affordable line of products made of Q-Nova yarn, crop tops start from £59 (pictured above, shop here).
Swedish sustainable activewear brand Pebbles Pilates has just launched into the UK. Founder Helena-Alexandra Hjerth, a trained Pilates teacher, has created an edit of mat-work ready leggings and crop tops made of recycled material crafted from ocean and landfill waste, industrial plastic and fabric scraps from clothing manufacturing – and everything is produced at ethically responsible factories in Portugal. The minimal Liberation collection has been designed to stand the test of time – with each piece coming with a 10-season guarantee policy.
Bondi-beach born Nimble creates cute workout gear using its custom MoveLite and Compresslite fabrics which are made from recycled plastic bottles that are cleaned, melted and turned into a yarn that’s knitted with spandex to give the tights a super silky finish. The ultra lightweight tights feature a flattering wide waistband, while the quick dry material keeps you cool.
Tights start from £45 in the sale, while tops begin at £35.
Perff Studio is a Portuguese athleisure and loungewear brand, which makes leggings, tops and sweats made using 50 per cent of recycled materials.
The brand’s latest drop is a stylish lockdown-friendly loungewear collection coming in navy, black and white colourways (from £45, shop here). If you like some glamour with your athleisure, check out Perff’s range of sassy leggings, crops and jumpsuits.
Founder Stephanie Reynders launched Lagatta’s first collection in 2019, inspired by Mediterranean hotspots St Tropez, Mykonos, Capri and Monaco.
Garments are made with Italian fabrics which use over 70 per cent of recycled yarn from abandoned fishing nets. Each item features built-in ShapeTech and is UV protective, moisture-wicking and breathable. Shaping tops ( £115, shop here) and leggings (£115, shop here) come in a chic Med-inspired palette of pale blues, cream and navy.