It's no coincidence you've seen a swift increase in sustainable and environmentally minded brands crop up as of late. Designers, retailers, and consumers from all corners of the globe are finally getting hip to the very real threats the fashion industry poses to Mother Nature. Eco activewear brands, in particular, have been quick to acknowledge and address their impact, in part because athletic attire is innately meant to help you enjoy nature — like the sports bra you wore on your hike last weekend.
"One of the places there is a lot of opportunity to make impact is circularity," Sheree Waterson, the Chief Product Officer at apparel brand Athleta tells TZR. She explains further that to decrease impact and waste it requires "addressing the full cycle of our garments, from raw materials to end of life." The San Francisco-based athletic brand has set out to make 80 percent of its materials with sustainable fibers by the year 2020 and its Trekkie line of products that's crafted from recycled nylon has prevented 51 tons of waste from ending up in landfills.
Activewear brand Girlfriend Collective is another leader in the space, designing leggings, sports bras, and shorts crafted from recycled materials. The label sources its post-consumer water bottles from Taiwan and leggings are crafted from Polyethylene Terephthalate, a part of the polyester family, which is BPA-free. The brand also takes into consideration additional points of impact like wastewater. According to its website, any water used in the dye process is sent to a treatment plant "literally 100 feet away from the machines."
In addition to working with recycled and upcycled materials, as well as implementing cleaner production practices, another crucial aspect of cultivating a conscious brand is tackling social impact. Many eco-centered brands are finding ways to connect with those who make their clothes. "As of this spring, we’ve helped 2,312 women in the factories that make Athleta apparel complete a program called PACE," explains Waterson. "[It's] a career and life skills education program that helps participants create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities."
Ahead, discover more activewear brands that offer leggings and other must-have separates that are not only eco-friendly, but also stylish — because the two are no longer mutually exclusive.
This Los-Angeles based brand cites its local manufacturing processes as a key way it ensures standards are upheld and ethically executed. Minimizing waste and its carbon footprint is at the forefront of its ethos, and its tie-dye leggings [below] are hand-dipped in California with non-toxic indigo plant extracts.
All of Yogavated's fabrics are crafted from recycled scraps from big box retail brands around the United States. It also creates hang tag strings, headbands, reusable rags, and dog beds from its very own product scraps.
Satva is partnered with Suminter India Organics®, which produces organic cotton that is both environmentally and socially conscious. The cotton is grown without pesticides or fertilizers, and the brand also avoids bleaches or harmful chemicals, using only non-toxic dyes. Together, Suminter and Satva have launched programs to sponsor livestock immunization and education within the communities of growers as well.
It's as simple as it sounds: For every item purchased, this brand plants ten trees. tentree's goal is to plant one billion trees in total by the year 2030. Additionally, the brand minimizes pollution by working with factories that source product locally, which limits shipping needs, and uses eco materials including recycled polyester and organic cotton.
Alternative Apparel designs with organic and recycled materials and produces mindfully with low-impact dyes and water-conserving washes. It also uses oxo-biodegradable mailer bags and many of its factories are WRAP-certified. Plus, everything is delightfully soft and cozy, which means you'll want to wear it all the time.
Prana's putting sustainability at the forefront of its business, with small steps like designing with organic cotton and recycled wool all the way to partnering with organizations like Fair Trade, bluesign®, Textile Exchange, and Responsible Down Standard. It's an activewear brand you can feel ethically sound investing in and wearing whenever you sweat.
You already know and love ultra-hip Outdoor Voices, but did you know that it's committed to sustainability in addition to stylish activewear? It works with fabrics including recycled polyester that's made from post-consumer water bottles, as well as sustainably raised wool. Check out OV's Q&A section to learn more about what the brand is doing for the environment and the ethics policies as related to its employees.