25 AWESOME ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE UNDERWEAR BRANDS

With the new year’s arrival and the horror show that was 2020 firmly behind us (here’s to hoping it gets better 🤞), I’ve been a little introspective lately and two questions have been on my mind:

What do I want to be known for? 

Why am I pursuing a sustainable lifestyle?

While my answers to both of these questions, at first thought have been lofty, ambitious claims: 

  • I want to be known as someone who lived a life in line with my values;
  •  I’m pursuing a sustainable lifestyle to do my part to address the environmental and ethical issues plaguing the world right now

I realize these responses have done more harm than good. 

Making my answers too general means I feel like I can never accomplish them and I feel their weight every time I slip up. 

The thing that I failed to consider here is the messiness of life. 

It doesn’t go to plan, it’s not perfect and the choices that we make can’t be neatly categorized into ‘good’ or ‘bad’. 

Sustainable fashion, in particular, may seem like one of those things that’s black and white – you buy from sustainable retailers, end of story- but it really isn’t. 

You’ll find that to be true even more so after reading this post on sustainable underwear. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and the options out there currently aren’t 100% perfect. 

We just have to do the best we can to try to make choices that align with our values.

Why Shop Sustainable Underwear?

Sustainable underwear is made from natural, organic fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, as well as eco-friendly synthetic fabrics like econyl, Tencel, etc. 

Like other types of sustainable garments, ‘sustainable’ underwear- by definition (check out this post for a refresher) means that the clothing product will be formulated without the use of toxic chemicals, in an environmentally friendly way, whilst ensuring workers and manufacturers are paid a living wage in safe working conditions. 

One popular fabric that is in a lot of sustainable underwear is organic cotton. 

Healthwise, it’s a great option as cotton is a breathable and sweat-wicking fabric, which is important as vaginal moisture, accumulated around the vulva region can lead to skin irritation and infections

But why not just purchase conventional cotton underwear then… is organic cotton really that much better?

Conventional cotton utilizes a large number of pesticides in its production. 

In fact, cotton exploits 16% of the global insecticide releases, with 60% going towards clothing according to The World Counts

A report by the UN, suggests that “chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility”. The individuals most affected by the effects of pesticide exposure would be farmers in developing countries. 


Now that we’ve covered the importance of buying sustainable underwear, below are my recommendations for sustainable underwear brands. 

For reference, pricing is in USD, and the size range is based on US sizing.

Price Range:

$= typically under $20

$$= typically under $50

$$$= typically under $75

$$$$= typically under $100

Before you start shopping, be sure to check out this sustainable shopping guide which talks about the certifications, packaging and fabric terms mentioned below as well as some helpful shopping tips. 

Note: a common fabric you’ll see in this list as well as most underwear retailers (sustainable or not) is elastane. 

At the end of this post, I cover elastane in depth, so be sure to read through that section if you’re curious as to what elastane is doing in sustainable underwear 😉. 


Boody

They carry women’s bras, underwear, leggings, tops, accessories, men’s boxers, briefs, shirts, accessories, baby’s onesies, tops, bottoms, accessories 

Based in Australia, ships worldwide

They use bamboo, nylon, spandex,

Packaging: Uses recycled paper, vegetable ink in packaging materials

Certifications: Ecocert, OEKO-TEX Standard 100, PETA, SGS, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, WRAP

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$$

Favourite Item: Full Brief

Shop here

Image by Boody


CasaGIN

CasaGIN is an Italian brand that manufactures their products from dyeing to packaging in Italy. 

They carry women’s and men’s underwear, loungewear, swimwear and sportswear

Based in Italy, ships worldwide

They use eucalyptus fiber, organic cotton, econyl, recycled PET, Tencel, Tencel Modal, Tencel Lyocell, elastane, recycled polyamide

Packaging: package sachets made of cornstarch which is biodegradable as well as recyclable cardboard. 

Certifications: Oeko-Tex Standard 100, European Ecolabel, GOTS, GRS

Size Range: S-2X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Bralette Bra in Natural Fabric and Eco Lace

Shop here

Image by CasaGIN


ColieCo

ColieCo creates ethical handmade lingerie and swimwear products and offers custom sizing options as well as free alterations. 

They carry lingerie, bodysuits, swimwear

Based in Portugal, ships worldwide

They use bamboo silk, bamboo jersey, organic cotton jersey, recycled polyester

Packaging: recycled paper and ship orders in recyclable packaging, shipping is carbon neutral

Certifications: OEKO-TEX, RPET

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$$

Give Back Programs: funds Carbonfund.org’s Reforestation and Forest Preservation Programme

Favourite Item: ZOEY Bamboo Crop Top Set

Shop here

Image by ColieCo


Etiko

They carry men’s and women’s shirts, bottoms, underwear, shoes, kids’ t-shirts and shoes

Based in Australia, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, elastane

Packaging: cardboard and paper is FSC certified and biodegradable, compostable plastic packaging 

Certifications: Fairtrade, Certified B Corporation, Social Traders Certified, GOTS, Carbon Social, FSC

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: 4-16

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Boyleg in pink 

Shop here

Image by Etiko


HARA

They carry bras, underwear, loungewear, sportswear

Based in Australia, ships worldwide

They use lyocell bamboo, natural dyes, spandex

Certifications: OEKO-TEX 100

Supply Chain: All of its supply chian is traced

Size Range: XS-5X

Price Range: $$

Give Back Programs: Environmental Justice Foundation

Favourite Item: Olive Jacky Sports Bra

Shop here

Image by HARA


Knickey

They carry women’s underwear 

Based in New York, ships to US, Canada, UK

They use organic cotton

Certifications: GOTS

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XXS-3X

Price Range: $

Favourite Item: Low- Rise Bikini

Shop here

Image by Knickey


Mighty Good Basics

They carry women’s underwear and tank tops, men’s briefs and trunks

Based in Australia, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, Fairtrade cotton, elastane

Certifications: Fairtrade, FLO, GOTS, SA 8000 Social Accountability Standard

Size Range: 4-18

Price Range: $

Favourite Item: Bikini Brief White

Shop here

Image by Mighty Good Basics


Naja

They carry bras and underwear

Based in California, ships to US, Canada and Australia

They use recycled materials

Supply Chain: Some of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-2X

Price Range: $$

Give Back Programs: Underwear for Hope

Favourite Item: Adriana Bralette in Vista Blue

Shop here

Image by Naja


Nisa

Nisa is an underwear brand that employs women from refugee backgrounds in Wellington, New Zealand 

They carry men’s and women’s briefs, bralettes, pants, tops, socks and swimwear

Based in New Zealand, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, elastane 

Certifications: GOTS

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: S-4X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Quinn- Low Full Brief

Shop here

Image by Nisa


NICO

NICO is a sustainable brand that offers intimates and loungewear that is rooted in minimalism and understated luxury 

They carry intimates, loungewear

Based in Australia, ships worldwide

They use plant dyed organic cotton, Tencel modal, recycled cotton

Packaging: orders packaged in 100% compostable satchel 

Certifications: GOTS, FSC, PEFC, Oeko-Tex Standard 100

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$$$

Favourite Item: Jemimah Midline Underwire Bra in Aspen Gold

Shop here

Image by NICO


Organic Basics

They carry women’s bras, bottoms, tops, bottoms, accessories, men’s underwear, tops

Based in Denmark, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, recycled nylon, TENCEL Lyocell, recycled wool, recycled cashmere

Certifications: Certified B Corporation, GOTS, GRS, Standard 100 OEKO-TEX

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$$$

Favourite Item: Organic Cotton Triangle Bra

Shop here

Image by Organic Basics


Pact

They carry men’s and women’s underwear and apparel, babies apparel, kids’ underwear and apparel

Based in Colorado, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, elastane, linen, non-toxic dyes and chemicals

Packaging: biodegradable, recyclable and compostable

Certifications: GOTS, Fair Trade

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-3X

Price Range: $$

Give Back Programs: Give Back, Wear Forward

Favourite Item: Lace-Waist Brief

Shop here

Image by Pact


Patagonia

They carry men’s and women’s apparel, swimwear, underwear, accessories, kid’s and babies apparel 

Based in California, ships worldwide

They use hemp, organic cotton, wool, recycled polyester, spandex

Certifications: 1% for the Planet, Bluesign, Fair Trade

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XXS-2X

Price Range: $$$

Favourite Item: Mississippi Delta in Dyno White

Shop here

Image by Patagonia


People Tree

They carry women’s tops, bottoms, dresses, activewear, underwear, accessories 

Based in UK, ships worldwide

They use Tencel, Fairtrade certified cotton, organic cotton, linen, wool, elastane

Packaging: recyclable and biodegradable 

Certifications: Fairtrade, GOTS, Organic Soil Association, PETA Approved Vegan

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: 2-14

Price Range: $$

Give Back Programs: People Tree Foundation

Favourite Item: Lace Trim Slip in Almond

Shop here

Image by People Tree


Proclaim

Proclaim is a lingerie brand rooted in the belief that fashion should be representative of all women and made to do good for women and the planet.

They carry bras and underwear

Based in California, ships worldwide

They use Tencel, recycled polyester, lyocell, spandex

Packaging: poly mailers, wrappers and hangtags are made from 100% recycled materials and are recyclable

Certifications: USDA BioPreferred

Size Range: S-3X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Everyday Bralette

Shop here

Image by Proclaim


Pansy

They carry organic cotton underwear and basics

Based in California, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, spandex

Size Range: S-3X

Price Range: $$$

Favourite Item: X High Rise

Shop here

Image by Pansy


Reformation

They carry tops, bottoms, dresses, underwear, swimwear and accessories

Based in California, ships worldwide

They use Tencel Lyocell, viscose, Tencel modal, linen, recycled cotton, organic cotton, econyl, recycled cashmere, alpaca, dead stock fabrics, spandex

Packaging: uses 100% recycled LDPE bags with a biodegradable polymer

Certifications: Bluesign Certified facilities, Oeko-Tex 100 Standard

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-3X

Price Range: $$$

Give Back Programs: 

Favourite Item: Proclaim Everyday Bralette

Shop here

Image by Reformation


Saint Basics

They carry men’s pants, shirts, loungewear, activewear, women’s pants, shirts, bras, loungewear, activewear

Based in the Netherlands, ships worldwide

They use Tencel eucalyptus, organic cotton, Tencel lyocell, elastane

Certifications: GOTS, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Rank a Brand, PETA

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: S-2X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: St. Charlie in Nomad

Shop here

Image by Saint Basics


Thunderpants

Thunderpants offers high quality undergarments made to last in fun patterns and colors. 

They carry women’s underwear, bralettes, leggings, kids’ underwear, men’s briefs

Based in Oregon, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, spandex

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-3X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Women’s Original Bloem in Blue

Shop here

Image by Thunderpants


The Nude Label

They carry women’s bras, underwear, bodysuits, sandals, men’s trunks, socks

Based in Spain, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, econyl, elastane 

Certifications: GOTS, PETA

Supply Chain: Audits most of its supply chain

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Triangle Brief

Shop here

Image by The Nude Label


Thought

They carry men’s and women’s apparel, underwear, accessories

Based in the UK, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel, modal, recycled polyester, wool, elastane

Packaging: uses recycled paper for labelling and mailing bags; garment bags are made of compostable cornstarch

Certifications: GOTS

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: 2-14

Price Range: $

Favourite Item: Enid Bamboo Jersey Printed Hannah Bralette

Shop here

Image by Thought


Underprotection

They carry lingerie, loungewear, swimwear and accessories 

Based in Denmark, ships worldwide

They use Tencel Lyocell, recycled wool, responsible wool, organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled nylon, recycled elastane, banana fiber, milk fiber

Packaging: cardboard boxes made from recycled material, FSC certified gift boxes, recycled plastic postal bags, biodegradable or recyclable plastic poly bags

Certifications: GRS, Oeko-Tex, Union of Natural Fibers, GOTS

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XXS-6X

Price Range: $$$

Favourite Item: Luna Hipsters in Clay

Shop here

Image by Underprotection


Vatter

They carry women’s underwear, bras, t-shirts, tank tops, longsleeves, men’s boxers, trunks, t-shirts, tank tops, longsleeves, baby’s bodysuits

Based in Germany, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, elastane

Packaging: packaging is made of 100% recycled materials and printed with vegetable-based inks, ship carbon neutral through DHL GoGreen

Certifications: GOTS

Supply Chain: All of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Boy Short Easy Emma in Snake

Shop here

Image by Vatter


WAMA

They carry men’s briefs and trunks, women’s underwear, bralettes

Based in California, ships worldwide

They use organic cotton, hemp, spandex

Certifications: PETA, Green America, National Hemp Association

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-2X

Price Range: $$

Favourite Item: Triangle Bralette

Shop here

Image by WAMA


Woron

They carry bras, underwear, loungewear

Based in Denmark, ships worldwide

They use Lenzing Modal, organic cotton, elastane

Certifications: OEKO TEX Standard 100 or 1000, GOTS, PETA

Supply Chain: Most of its supply chain is traced

Size Range: XS-XL

Price Range: $$$

Favourite Item: Lace Trimmed Soft- Bra in White

Shop here

Image by Woron


What’s the Deal with Elastane?

One type of fabric that you may have noticed that was on virtually every brand list was elastane. 

You might be wondering, why is elastane included in sustainable underwear? Isn’t it made of plastic?

Elastane (aka Spandex or Lycra) is a synthetic fabric made from 85% polyurethane at minimum according to Kleiderly

Polyurethane is a plastic material that’s sort of like a rubber in terms of it’s elasticity. 

This means products with elastane in them can be stretched and will not lose their shape, sort of like a rubber band. 

This is particularly useful with underwear products as it is necessary for the garment to have some ‘give’ to it and stretch to accommodate the wearer’s shape without being constricting.

Is Elastane Sustainable?

Unfortunately, no. 

Since elastane is often mixed with other types of fabric, it is not recyclable. 

Additionally, being petroleum based, it is not biodegradable, either (Fashion Materials Weebly). 

When washed, elastane products also shed microplastics. 

What Can You Do?

At the moment, purchasing garments, particularly stretch-dependent items like athleticwear, swimwear and underwear without elastane is difficult.

Here’s what you can do help counteract the environment effects of elastane: 

  • Wash your elastane garments in a wash bag like Guppyfriend that prevents the shedded microplastics from making their way into our waterways. 
  • Air dry your clothes to prevent the heat of the dryer from breaking down the elastane material. 

Don’t forget to let me know of any sustainable underwear brands that you know of not mentioned here. 

Also, let me know your thoughts on the whole elastane situation. 

PS. 

Remember those questions I asked at the beginning of this post: 

What do I want to be known for? 

Why am I pursuing a sustainable lifestyle? 

I’m curious to know your answers, let me know in the comments. 

Until next time,

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