Underwear is a very personal subject, given that you’re wearing it close to your skin every single day, it has to fit well and lift your confidence while being comfortable at the same time. Underwear shapes, support and outline your silhouette. Even the most beautiful outfit will be less lustrous if you’re wearing ill-fitting underwear.
With the rise of sustainable fashion brands, there are still a limited number of sustainable swimwear and ethical underwear options to choose from. This may very well have to do with the fabrics used for lingerie and swimwear as the only way to achieve stretch is by adding synthetic and plastic fibres to the fabric, and plastic is not exactly the most eco-friendly material.
We’re looking forward to seeing more sustainable underwear brands over the next few years, specifically brands that provide shape and support where it matters most. See the list below for some of our favourite ethical underwear brands.
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Ethics | Organic bamboo, recycled packaging, low-waste
Boody delivers a comfort led range made from bamboo yarn. It’s skin-friendly, hypoallergenic and breathable. The fabric is super soft and luscious and the designs are minimalist and versatile.
Boody has perfected its range of everyday essentials that are slow fashion at it’s best. Items are timeless and durable, which are fundamental to a minimalist wardrobe.
All their garments are made from organically grown bamboo and produced with high ethical standards for both the planet and their workers. Their range includes women’s and men’s underwear & activewear as well as a beautiful collection of super adorable baby essentials.
Ethics | Bamboo, plastic-free packaging, 100% recyclable fabric
We’ve been fans of BAM for a long time. They make beautiful activewear and underwear that inspires our sense of adventure. All their clothing is 100% recyclable even their denim jeans!
As their name says, all their items are made from bamboo blended fabrics. Bamboo is a fast-growing crop that absorbs five times more carbon than hardwood treas and only needs half the land that cotton needs to produce the same amount of fibre. As a company, they are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint to zero by 2030.
BAM’s underwear range has a super comfortable fit and is classicly eco-chic, minimalist and timeless. It is simplicity at its best.
Ethics | Fairtrade, organic, ethical production, recycling programme
People Tree is a pioneer in sustainable and fairtrade fashion. They started in 1991 with a mission to make products of the highest ethical and environmental standards.
Their designs are contemporary, versatile and playful. Sometimes even a little whimsical. They use ethical production practices and are completely transparent about their factories and the origins of their products. Underwear singles and sets are extra soft and mainly made with organic cotton. Being organic it’s free of toxic chemicals, hypoallergenic and great for those with sensitive skin.
People Tree has partnered with Give Back Box®, where you can send your used items to People Tree in the same packaging you received with new purchases.
Ethics | Ethical production, recycled packaging, GOTS Certified cotton
Organic basics make a comfortable range of everyday underwear staples using classic and contemporary lines. They use organic materials always working to fulfil their motto “Basically Better Made”. During weaving, they incorporate silver into organic cotton, giving the fabric antibacterial and heat-regulating properties.
If you dig a little deeper you’ll find that they have a few impressive initiatives one of which helps to fund regenerative cotton farming that focuses on soil health. You can read more about regenerative farming in our post about sustainable food production.
Everything is designed to last, which means they invest in good quality fabrics and workmanship. It’s functional simplicity at its best.
Ethics | GOTS- & OEKO TEX Certified, recycling program
Knickey is making the future of underwear more ethical through better choices right throughout their supply chain. They’re committed to combat pollution, wastewater and forced labour. The Knickey range consists of classic panties that are beautiful and comfortable.
With their commitment to using certified organic cotton, they use a production method that has a quarter of the environmental impact compared to conventional cotton. You’ll find no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers only regenerative, safe practices from farm to factory.
By working with an industry partner they offer a recycling programme that turns old textiles into new materials such as mattress batting and insulation. You can recycle your old delicates with your delivery of new Knickeys items.
Ethics | OEKO TEX Certified, organic, ethical production
WAMA’s range is made from sustainable hemp fabric. Hemp is naturally anti-bacterial, super soft and surprisingly breathable. It gets softer with every wash, is organic and eco-friendly as it’s such a fast-growing crop. Well technically it’s a weed, no pun intended, so grows well without any pesticides or fertilisers.
By partnering with factories WAMA can improve the lives of their employees with fair wages and good working environments.
They make a range of comfortable ethical underpants and bras with a cut to fit every body shape. From boy shorts to thongs and everything in between. While you’re browsing in their store you can also pick up a few basic essentials for the men in your life as they carry a range of men’s briefs, trunks and boxers.
Ethics | Certified B Corp, GOTS certified organic, ethical production
Pact makes a beautiful range of organic cotton basics. As a Certified B Corporation, they have a string of initiates that forms part of their commitment to doing the right thing. They work with fairtrade certified factories to make sure their products are good for everyone involved in the growing and production process.
One of their initiatives is Give Back Box where you can donate your old clothes and they use 100% recyclable packaging.
With their super-soft underwear, you are bound to be comfortable all day long! We love that some of their bras have removable support cups, which means you can go for comfort or shape. All with the same set of undies.
Products are pre-shrunk so no need to worry about the dreaded cotton shrink after the first wash.
Ethics | GOTS Certified Organic Fairtrade Cotton, ethical production
Thunderpants is a New Zealand based underwear brand, also available in the UK and USA. In the UK their products are made in the North of England. Doing it this way they can support local producers and keep emissions from shipping as low as possible. USA products are made in New Zealand. You’d be happy to know that their packaging is biodegradable, which is a big plus right?
The company’s motto is People Before Profit, which is something they stick to without compromise.
Their bottoms provide full coverage and are available in a wide range of beautiful patterns and colours. This means you have classic comfort without the feeling of wearing grandma pants as they are way too funky for that.
Ethics | Recycled Nylon, ethical production
Thought is an independently owned sustainable fashion brand that started in London, UK back in 1995. These days they sell worldwide and make a good range of underwear which includes amongst other things one piece cammies – something that isn’t widely available from other sustainable brands.
All Thought’s products are created with sustainability in mind, from the sourcing of materials right through to production and sales. For them, it’s all about being thoughtful and living in a more considered way.
Thought makes their underwear using recycled nylon, giving new life to textiles that would’ve ended up in landfill. Just remember to place your items in a Guppyfriend bag when you wash them. Or perhaps invest in a Filtrol to filter our microplastics.
Ethics | Recycled Nylon, ethical production
At Everlane they focus on ethical sourcing and transparency throughout their supply chain. You’ll also find that their products are designed to be low impact and last, making sure that you can wear your Everlane items for many years. They produce less waste, use fewer chemicals and plastics to help protect our ecosystem.
We love their timeless basics as these are durable items that will form a happy part of your wardrobe for more than one season – that’s for sure. You can trace also their products back to the factory that made them.
As far as fabrics go, Everlane’s ethical underwear range is made from recycled plastic bottles and is dyed with bluesign®-approved dyes, which is safer for workers and better for the environment.
If you’re looking for underwear that provides the feel of more traditional products then Everlane comes pretty close and is still made more ethically than your average high-street bra.
Fabrics Used for Ethical Underwear
When it comes to constructing sustainable and ethical underwear you generally have a wider choice of fabric than sustainable swimwear for example. But even though underwear can be made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and recycled nylon or plastic there will still be a percentage of plastic fibres within the fabric.
Plastic fibres such as elastane or nylon are needed to give the material a bit of stretch. Without the stretch, it’s unlikely that your underwear will be super comfortable or stay up for that matter. This means that you need to be mindful when you wash even ethical underwear as it will still shed microplastics into the environment.