I feel a sense of renewal when the warmer weather returns. I can get more done while living slowly, as the sun is out for longer. My muscles and limbs are relaxed instead of perpetually tensed up against the harsh winter wind. My running speeds even increased since it’s warmer. (Consider bundling up and running when it is -6° outside)!
And with the arrival of the warmer weather, I am eagerly awaiting lazy days lounging in the sun by the water. I have been wearing the same couple bikinis for years, one since I was in high school. Because I think it is best for the environment that we use what we have until we must replace it. However, this year I cannot help but feel like a new, sustainably made swimsuit would bring me a lot of pride and happiness.
But honestly, I get tripped up when it comes to buying new sustainable fashion. I own several Patagonia pieces, all used but some “new-with-tag.” I have a few pairs of pants from 10Tree, but I still worry about labor practices. A quick internet search will demonstrate that sustainable and ethical fashion is easier to attain than ever. But how sustainable or ethical is fashion if the folks making the clothing are not earning living wages?
According to Patagonia’s 2019 Living Wage statement, the company currently provides 35% of their apparel assembling factories living wages. And while I find this percentage too low, I do appreciate Patagonia’s transparency and willingness to acknowledge the importance of living wages.
Meanwhile, the information provided on the 10tree website regarding labor practices is somewhat ambiguous. Admittedly, 10tree’s statement is likely enough to satisfy consumers who don’t feel the need to dig deeper. You can find 10tree’s Living Wage information here.
I acknowledge the myriad people in the world who do not make living wages: of course this issue does not exist within a vacuum of the fashion industry! But sustained activism is the key to social change. I believe we need to continue to make our voices heard if we want to see wages and working conditions improve for the masses..
But without further digression, here are a few of the vegan, sustainable swimwear brands I’m currently gushing over:
Do Good Swimwear
Do Good Swimwear boasts ethical and sustainable practices while using recycled waste from the ocean to craft their suits. A portion of proceeds is allocated to ocean preservation, tree planting and humanitarian aid focused on women and girls in at-risk communities. The company emphasizes “slow fashion” and claims that slower production facilitates fair wages and lower carbon footprints. The company does not currently provide a detailed analysis of their ability to pay living wages.
Luxe swimwear brand Vitamin A espouses sustainably made and produced swimwear inspired by Patagonia’s practices. You can check out Vitamin A’s statement on sustainability and wages here. Similar to Pact and 10Tree’s “eco stats,” Vitamin A provides an analysis of waste diverted, water saved and emissions offset per item. I’ll give it to them; Vitamin A offers some pretty compelling marketing to help consumers feel good about supporting their brand. I would really love to see some “stats” regarding their factory worker wages though.
My first impression of Woodlike is that the website is very…white. The models are not diverse ethnically or in size. The swim pieces are quite lovely, though. Woodlike’s most redeeming quality is in how the brand uses ocean waste and other recycled materials to craft their swimsuits. However, there is no mention of fair or living wages for workers on the website. You can check out their sustainability pledge here.
Arrow and Phoenix
Arrow + Phoenix supports inclusivity, diversity, and makes their suits with 100% recycled materials. The brand donates a portion of each swim piece sold to The Coral Restoration Foundation and advocates for environmentally friendly practices on the website. Arrow + Phoenix swimsuits are “constructed” in Paradise, Nevada. There is no mention of worker wages on the website.
Patagonia pieces are certainly more technical, but if you’re into water sports check them out! The company deserves a shout-out for their transparency and the utility their gear provides. (See Patagonia’s living wage statement above).
Do you have a favorite ethical vegan swimwear brand? Help me out and let us know.
Also by R. Coker: I’m A Vegan In A Red Midwestern State. What I Wish People Knew About Polar Vortex & Climate Change
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Photo: via Unsplash; respective brands