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Updated: May 9, 2023

Creating your own swimwear collection requires the correct fabric that is suitable for use in the water. Choosing the right fabric is really important, you have to consider the stretch of the fabric, its durability and the feel of the fabric when picking what fabrics to use. Swimwear fabrics are more technical in manufacturing, so picking these fabrics is the best option.

Synthetic fabrics are the most popular material for swimsuits on the market - and it's not surprising. Swimsuits made from synthetic fabrics are stretchy, durable, and resistant to chlorine, saltwater, and sunlight. In their production, synthetic fabrics create a lot of non-biodegradable waste and consume large amounts of energy and petroleum. Fortunately, wearing high-performance swimwear is still sustainable thanks to the advancement of recycled and regenerated materials. The development of new synthetic fabrics is making waste materials useful again and reducing petroleum demand.

Synthetic fabrics, however, shed microfibers when they are washed, whether they are recycled or not. We are polluting our oceans and waterways with these microfibers, which endanger wildlife and compromise the quality of our drinking water.

The Guppyfriend Washing Bag is recommended for garments or swimwear made with synthetic fibres to prevent microfibers from escaping your washing machine. It has been a norm for swimwear to use polyester and nylon fabrics for years. Although these fabrics still perform well, consumer behaviour continues to evolve, and more and more people are considering sustainable fabric options. In recent years, various sustainable swimwear fabrics have been available on the market.

Recycled PET Fabric

Polyester is often a popular choice of fabric for swimwear and activewear because it has many benefits. Polyester has strong fibres, therefore, making it durable so it lasts a long time. As the fabric doesn’t absorb much water, its very quick drying. Another benefit of using polyester is that you can weave it to make it have 4 way stretch which is great for swimwear styles, making it comfortable for the consumer and helping with fitting on various body shapes. Polyester is chlorine resistant so the fabrics stay vibrant, use after use.

RPET (recycled polyethene terephthalate) is made from discarded plastic water bottles or post-consumer plastics that have been broken down. Apart from generating significantly fewer carbon emissions than virgin PET, RPET fabric serves as a means of reducing plastic waste in landfills and the ocean. Also, RPET fabrics are nearly identical in quality to virgin polyester fabrics, so they last just as long and are more environmentally friendly.

To create RPET, discarded plastic is washed, shredded, and re-spun in a manner similar to how virgin polyester is transformed into textiles and apparel. A chemical recycling process can also be used to make RPET - a process in which plastic is broken down into its basic components and re-made into fibres that are identical to virgin polyester.


Repreve is an innovative sustainable swimwear fabric. Plastic bottles are recycled into fibres by turning them into this unique material. A global textile solutions company, Unifi, makes Repreve, which has recycled over 20 billion bottles to date. Repreve uses a tracing technology that verifies recycled content claims to guarantee the recycled content of its fabrics.

Many of the world's largest brands that create apparel, sportswear, and swimwear use it. Repreve is durable and reliable, and it is also known for its ability to wick away moisture, adapt to ambient temperature, cool down, and repel water. During production, Repreve emits fewer greenhouse gases and conserves energy and water. Mara Hoffman, See, and Vitamin A are just a few brands that use Repreve to make sustainable swimwear.



Nylon is considered the best fabric for swimwear. Nylon is not as long-lasting as polyester and it isn’t chlorine resistant however it is comfortable to wear and is very stretchy. Nylon washes well and has anti-pilling properties. Nylon is fairly cheap as well and has been used again by regenerating the fabric to make it more sustainable.

First, let's talk about Econyl, perhaps the most famous sustainable swimwear fabric. There is a good reason why ECONYL remains so popular among sustainable swimwear brands. Interestingly, ECONYL is created from nylon products such as used clothes, carpets, and fishing nets! Recycled nylon from landfills and oceans worldwide is used to create this Italian product.

About 640,000 tons of fishing gear are dumped into our oceans each year, so why not turn them into swimsuits? As a result, plastic pollution is reduced, and waste is repurposed. Besides fishing nets and recycled clothing, it is also made from other materials. Since this fabric is still plastic, you must treat it with care. Even though it is made from recycled materials, which is great,it isn't 100% safe to use.

It is still possible for this fabric to release microfibers when it is washed, for example. If you have an Econyl or recycled polyester swimsuit, make sure to wash it by hand. Woodlike Ocean, Casa Reki, and Mara Hoffman are just a few brands that use Econyl in their sustainable swimwear collections.


The EcoRib fabric is made from nylon fibre scraps and is stretch-ribbed. In addition to being lightweight, it is also breathable. In addition to EcoRib, Vitamin A offers swimsuits made from EcoLux, another recycled nylon. Regarding swimming suits, EcoRib is a more sustainable option than synthetic materials.

Stockings are likely to come to mind when you think of nylon. Swedish Stockings & Organic Basics are two excellent brands for recycled nylon tights.


Biodegradable nylon is also an alternative to nylon which is more sustainable. Biodegradable nylon has the main advantage of decomposing naturally under certain environmental conditions, unlike recycled nylon. As a result, it doesn't remain in nature for decades or centuries. Bio-nylon and biodegradable synthetic nylon are the two types of biodegradable nylon. Most commonly, bio-nylon is used. Sugarcane, cornstarch, or other plant-based renewable ingredients are used to make this material. Since bio-nylon is made from plants, it contains no plastic. There is, therefore, no risk of microplastics being shed into waterways.

The production of bio-nylon also does not contribute to an increase in crude oil demand. Under the right environmental conditions, it is also biodegradable. One of the best examples of bio-nylon is EVO by Fulgar. The fabric is made from castor oil, a renewable resource that doesn't require a lot of water. Unlike most synthetic materials, EVO fabric is lightweight and highly elastic. As well as being thermo-insulated, it also dries twice as quickly as conventional nylon.

BioSculpt fabric is another plant-based nylon. It is made from plant-based fibre that is derived from castor beans. Some of Vitamin A's swimsuits are made from BioSculpt material.

PBT is a polyester swimsuit fabric that is made using various fabrics that are woven together to give it swimwear properties. The fabric is lightweight and is snag resistant. The fabric doesn’t have a sheen to it, its very matte in appearance.


Are you familiar with neoprene? Although it looks cool and comfortable, especially while surfing, it isn't eco-friendly. Yulex was introduced to the market a few years ago. Neoprene made from plant-based materials is more sustainable than neoprene made from limestone or petroleum. The material is lightweight, supple, and super-stretchy without any neoprene.

Rainforest Alliance-certified Forest Stewardship Council® sources provide natural rubber. Neoprene is manufactured in factories, but natural rubber is produced by hevea trees that absorb carbon during their lifetime, resulting in 80% less CO2 emissions.

Deforestation is one of the most significant risks associated with this fabric, which is why responsible sourcing is essential. Patagonia, Finisterre, and Slo Active are some brands that use Yulex in their sustainable swimwear collections.


You might think of hippie swimwear when you think of cotton and hemp swimwear. As of right now, however, this is not the case.

Regarding sustainability, hemp is one of the best natural fabrics available. The hemp plant does not require pesticides for growth, enriches the soil, and cleans the air of carbon dioxide.

Besides being anti-microbial, hemp fabric is also UV-resistant and very durable. As a result, the fabric does not contain any harsh chemicals used to make synthetic fabrics anti-microbial, UV-resistant, and chlorine-resistant. The sustainable swimwear brand Natasha Tonic uses hemp in its collections.


The world's first recyclable and biodegradable polyamide yarn was created by Amni Soul Eco® Thread, while most eco-friendly synthetic fibres focus on reducing waste on the front end using recycled materials. Wearing this yarn is as durable and resistant as wearing other polyamide yarns, but it will decompose within five years into organic matter (biomass) and biogas in a landfill.

Sourcing sustainable fabrics for swimwear can be difficult as its harder to create fabric from natural materials because its more expensive to do so. However, there are a lot of options of swimwear fabric that is recycled, and made from plastic bottles or is recycled from used textile fabrics.


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