If you’re planning a summer trip, then swimwear might be on your packing list. But if you need to invest in new swimwear, you might be wondered how this contributes to the fast fashion industry. Here, we catch up with independent swimwear designer Tilly from Tilia Rose Swim to find out about sustainable swimwear.
85% of the plastic pollution in the ocean is due to microfibers from synthetic clothing.
“If you are reading this post you are one step closer to helping maintain our seas, wildlife and woodlands. Starting up a brand was always my dream, after working in an Australian surf shop, I dived into a world of activewear and fashion. I loved the patterns and shapes seen on men’s boardies and the comfort of the women’s cuts. Once back in the UK I was on a mission to combine the two and bring it to the UK market. Halfway through creating the brand (Tilia Rose Swim) I was reading a fascinating article on fast fashion -“20,000 LITRES is the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans.” The article shouted, “85% of the plastic pollution in the ocean is due to microfibers from synthetic clothing.” The next thing I know I am reading 80 pages on fast fashion and the effects it has on its workers and the environment. I had no idea, honestly not a clue. Even now, so many people are just like me back then – completely clueless.
Did you know clothing made from polyester can take up to 200 years to break down and that 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years due to stress? These are horrible facts to hear but the more you know the more you can do to help. After reading this for myself I took everything I had worked on, every factory I had contacted, every fabric sample I had received, and I changed every single aspect.
Looking closer at swimwear
Swimwear can be damaging to the planet if it’s not consciously produced. Looking at the big brands, they order thousands of one style and as soon as the season is over, they discard hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of these pieces into landfill.
So what can you do when shopping swimwear?
Start by asking questions like: ‘Where was this made?’ ‘Who was it made by?’ ‘What fabric do you use?’ ‘Are your styles seasonal?’ and ‘How are my clothes packaged?’ A lot of information can be found online and if it’s not what you were expecting, ditch the brand and support ones that are making a conscious effort to be better and looking to help the environment.
What’s the difference with sustainable swimwear?
So I bet most of you are sitting there wondering what credentials make swimwear more sustainable. To give you an example from my own brand (Tilia Rose Swim) here is what we are doing to create minimal waste and be kinder to the planet that we live on:
No fast fashion
No seasonal swimwear and no seasonal trends. Our swimwear has been made to last and not follow other style trends. We want you to love your pieces for as long as you can and wear them – over and over again! No pieces will ever get binned at the end of a season. Instead, they will stay on the website till they sell out. We also create only a few new styles a year. We do very small order runs buying more of what people want and less of what they don’t want.
Fair Trade Verified Factory
Our factory is a fair trade, ethically verified factory. It provides a healthy and safe working space, good living wage, no forced labour and complete transparency. They work slowly and everyone gets 20+ days of holiday along with weekends off. If you want to know any more about our factory, please just email us.
No Fabric Waste
All of our pieces have been digitally printed with non-toxic inks, saving water and energy. This method of printing leaves very little room for error, meaning there is hardly any waste. Each piece is printed on after the shapes have been cut. The very rare time we have had offcuts we get them to send the fabric to us for future use.
All of our products come with a set of stickers made from recycled plastic and come in pretty biodegradable, compostable bags (including the tape). This means that even if they end up in the wrong bin, they are still doing the right thing and not staying in landfill!
We are now very excited to be using ECONYL – a fabric made from nylon waste from landfills and oceans around the world. It’s exactly the same quality as brand new nylon and can be recycled, recreated and remoulded again and again! Our new piece is out at the end of July. We also have plans to use this fabric for all our future pieces.
Here at Tilia Rose Swim, we have selected a range that we think you will love all created from second-hand swimwear! We get it, sometimes nobody has time to sift through packed rails in thrift shops. Second-hand clothing may be ‘worn’ but it is the most environmentally friendly clothing available and we are here to show you that it really can be good as new. Each piece we select is very cool, very unique and very affordable. Once we have found or received the pieces, we check it over thoroughly for any marks, rips or pulls. We then wash them all on a high temperature with an all-natural bacteria removal wash. We then leave pieces to naturally dry and then each piece gets double-checked. We remove any current tags, give them a whole new tag and when ordered the items get delivered in a compostable mailing.
Thanks to Tilly for chatting to us and giving us a closer look at sustainable swimwear! Throughout July 2019 we’re giving all TOTM subscribers an exclusive 30% off Tilia Rose Swim. The code can be found in your next subscriber order or via your subscriber dashboard.
Come and chat to us, what other sustainable swaps are you making this summer? Drop us a comment on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, search @totmorganic.