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Game on: give your sportswear an ethical edit

Living
Short read

Jesse Dodd

7 May 2017

Summer’s here so it’s time to don the fancy pants and get active. Activewear has undergone a social revolution (and is an Instagram influencer in its own right). Fitness classes around the world have become a competitive sweatbox of brands and patterns. If you’re going to invest in new pieces, there are some fantastic ethical activewear brands flexing their muscles. Here are some of our sportswear stars.

Flip the Dog

Yoga can make you feel even better with Flip The Dog yoga pants. Each pair is made from recycled water bottles and handmade in the UK – now that’s how you achieve inner peace. And being sustainable doesn’t mean being boring when it comes to colour, the brand has some of the jazziest prints around. Namaste.

Flip The Dog yoga pants are bright and bold (and eco-friendly)

Flip The Dog reckon it's scientifically proven that bold bright leggings make you feel better

Picture Organic Clothing

French ski and surf wear brand Picture Organic Clothing turn organic and recycled materials into seriously high spec, high performance outdoor gear. Amongst other great initiatives, there’s no air miles here, everything is transported by boat (and driven the shortest distance possible) and their durable water repellent is environmentally friendly (most aren’t). Plus, they love bright colours and even better, reasonable prices.

Picture Organic Clothing is made from recycled materials

Picture recycled 50,000 plastic bottles to create its summer jacket collection

Boody

British brand Boody Bamboo Eco Wear uses  95% organic eco-sourced bamboo fibre to create T-shirts and vest tops that are breathable, hypoallergenic and bacteria resistant - no matter how much you sweat. The magic ingredient is bamboo fibre which keeps clothes odour free, is remarkably long lasting and doesn’t harm the environment.

Boody use sustainable organic bamboo to make its super comfy sports tops

Bamboo grows quickly and is a versatile cash crop for impoverished parts of the world

Asquith

Luxury British yoga and activewear brand Asquith hits the ethical nail on the head. Its pieces could be worn outside a yoga studio (we love the organic cotton harem pants for travelling in) but it wears its heart on its (cotton) sleeve. It’s produced in a family run Turkish factory who also work for Paul Smith and all of its cotton and bamboo is organically grown and harvested.

Ruby Moon

Ruby Moon makes ethical swimwear and activewear for women who want to do more than look pretty on a beach. It’s sports styling with designer prints and each piece is made to last. It uses CONYL® nylon yarn made from used fishing nets and other waste materials and from the profits, Ruby Moon lends micro-finances women entrepreneurs in eleven different countries.

Ruby Moon uses recycled fishing nets for its swimwear

Ruby Moon has provided micro-financing to 170 women so far in 11 countries

Sundried

New ethical sportswear brand Sundried works hard for its money. Each piece comes with a code that not only tells you about its manufacture but also donates to Water for Kids when you input it into the website. Developed by a personal trainer who wanted to be proud of his company, men's and women's clothing is made ethically and audited for creating low carbon emissions. No nonsense on the ethical side and no nonsense on the physical side too.

Sundried is made ethically but its committed to being high performance sportswear

Sundried is a partner of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund and produces its range in Portugal

Yew Clothing

Yew Clothing make high performance sportswear in an ethical fashion. They use recycled polyester and organic cotton to make men and women’s baselayers, T-shirts and lightweight jackets. They contribute 1% of all revenue through 1% For The Planet and support other charities too.

Icebreaker

One of the leaders in naturally made outdoorwear, Icebreaker has designed systems that use merino wool at their core to keep hikers and adventurers warm and dry. The merino fibre is ethically sourced and made and so are the products that are built to breathe, insulate or endure or perform. From base layers to tights, fishing to yoga - if you’re outdoors, Icebreaker has just the (natural) thing.

Icebreaker uses only natural materials like merino wool

Icebreaker keep things natural with merino wool to regulate body temperature

Bella Kinesis

British ethical women's sportswear brand Bella Kinesis funds an individual woman’s business education in India for each piece that’s sold. It’s all about helping women get stronger - whether physically or professionally. We love the brand’s aquamarine pyramid bra with a racer back.

Bella Kinesis help support female entrepreneurs in India

Create a chain reaction with Bella Kinesis - you get in shape, another woman shapes her future

Teeki

Teeki make cosmic style yoga leggings and sports tops from recycled water bottles and then it’s printed with eco-friendly dyes and made in the US. Their prints are called things like Magic Hat and Phoenix Rising and will inject a lovely dose of glam into your gym bag.

Let’s talk textiles

There’s a lot of fancy talk around ethically produced activewear. If you can, stick to the natural fibres - wool, bamboo, hemp or cotton but make sure it’s been grown without pesticides. These are then often mixed with low levels of Spandex or elastane (Lycra) to get the stretchiness. Some brands use recycled Lycra or Spandex but there’s always going to be a push and pull between using recycled, organic and local fabrics just as there is between trying to choose between organic and local food if both isn’t an option. Only you can decide where your priorities lie - it might be in your country there are masses of activewear brands that get their products made locally - or you may plump for an organic brand and overseas shipping.