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Ethical Activewear Brands Getting Sustainability Right

23rd September 2020

23rd September 2020

By Robyn Schaffer

It’s probably fair to say that this year, most of us have spent the majority of our time in our lockdown uniform. Whether it’s pyjamas, tracksuits, leggings, or whatever you can find in the pile on the floor that isn’t dirty, we’ve all turned to ultimate comfort in times of difficulty. 

Activewear was already a rapidly growing sector in the fashion industry - in February this year, just before lockdown, the global activewear industry was expected to reach nearly $455 billion by 2027, according to experts. Then, when we suddenly all found ourselves stuck inside, with nowhere to go and no one to impress, activewear became a staple part of life. 

But these days, with so many brands and labels jumping on the trend, it can be difficult to choose who to buy from. Today, it’s becoming more and more important to buy sustainable where possible since the fashion industry is one of the world’s great polluters. The good news is that there are a bunch of brands in the activewear space putting in the work to be as ethical and sustainable as possible, from using renewable and recycled materials, to honouring workers’ rights and contributing to environmental charities and causes. With that in mind, we wanted to highlight a few of our favourites to champion their good work and give you some inspiration. Happy shopping!


Launched in 2019, UK-based activewear brand TALA is the brainchild of fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley. TALA was founded on the premise of a slow-fashion approach to sustainable style that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or do damage to the planet, and the brand’s core values include sustainability, accessibility, community, inclusivity, and total supply chain transparency, from sourcing materials to workers’ rights. In a groundbreaking move for the fashion industry, TALA’s items are made from 92% reused materials, which include plastic bottles and factory offcuts. What we love about TALA is that it stands for promoting an inclusive and diverse environment within an industry that has hitherto struggled to represent a variety of races, ages, genders, and body shapes and sizes.

TALA’s collection includes everything from sports bras, to leggings, to tracksuits, accessories and more. To check it out, go to:

Organic Basics

Organic Basics, based in Denmark and the US, is a GOTS-certified basics and activewear brand that promotes the use of sustainable materials and practices at all levels of its business. Using only natural, renewable, recycled, biodegradable, and low-impact textiles, Organic Basics’ pieces are made from things like organic cotton, TENCEL™ (a fibre made from responsibly sourced wood pulp) and recycled nylon. Working with certified factory partners that pay workers living wages, Organic Basics also engages in charity work, twice a year donating a portion of its profits to grassroots activists and organisations that address environmental crises. With collections for both men and women, we love their simple, timeless designs that are simultaneously sleek and functional. But when it comes to their ethos, think they sum it up best: “When we say sustainability is our core mission we don’t mean that sustainability is nice to have - we mean that it’s the only way we act.” 

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To see Organic Basics' full range, find it here

Girlfriend Collective

Known for their simple yet striking designs, Girlfriend Collective’s first goal was “to be as transparent as possible”. When so many brands today preach about promoting sustainability and transparency but fail to act on their claims, it can be confusing to know who really means what they say. But instead of just riding on flashy headlines that lack real substance, Girlfriend has carefully chosen every part of their process, from the raw materials they use, to their facilities and partners, while 100% of their packaging is recycled and recyclable. Here are some more ways they incorporate sustainability into the production of their clothing:

  • Compressive Leggings and bras are made from 79% recycled polyester (or RPET) and 21% spandex.
  • LITE Leggings are made from recycled fishing nets and other waste using ECONYL® yarn. Their LITE fabric is made up of 83% recycled nylon and 17% spandex.
  • Tees and tanks are 100% cupro, a delicate fibre made from waste that the cotton industry leaves behind. Their yarn is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, and then constructed at a SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi.

      To check out Girlfriend’s collection, find it here


      Instantly recognisable for its bold and vibrant colour-block pieces, Pangaia is a brand that’s quickly made a name for itself in the fashion and sustainability spaces since its inception in 2018. The minimalist brand, which is based between London, New York and Florence, is built on a balance between science, technology, design and sustainability. And with key team members from a background in luxury fashion, there’s no compromise when it comes to style either. The brand’s collection comprises high-quality staples like T-shirts, tracksuit bottoms, hoodies and sweatshirts in a wide range of colours and shades, from neons, to pastels, and neutrals.

      When it comes to sustainability, the brand’s signature T-shirts are made from
      60% saltwater seaweed and 40% organic cotton. However, in an interview with Vogue.co.uk, it was revealed that an 80/20 version is already in the pipeline and tests for 100% have already been completed. Furthermore, for its puffer jackets, Pangaia uses its patented “Flower Down” technology that harvests flowers produced from agricultural waste, while innovative antibacterial peppermint helps clothes stay fresher for long. And naturally, there’s total supply chain transparency. If it’s good enough for celebrity fans such as Bella Hadid, Justin Bieber and Pharrell Williams, it’s good enough for us. 

      You can check out Pangaia’s collection here.


      Patagonia is a California-based brand that’s gone global thanks to its practical, comfortable and quality outdoor clothing for sports like climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding. However, in recent years Patagonia has seen a brand reinvention of sorts, with its pieces now being incorporated into the wardrobes of style-conscious millennials and Gen-Zers tapping into the street style trend. But despite its recent rise in popularity, Patagonia (a B Corp company) remains committed to its ethos of building products for those who love the outdoors while also caring for the environment.

      In 2019,
      the United Nations named Patagonia a UN Champion of the Earth, receiving the UN’s top environmental honour for a mix of policies that prioritise sustainability at the heart of its business model. Nearly 70% of Patagonia’s products are made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles, with the goal to be 100% renewable or recycled materials by 2025. The brand also uses things like hemp and organic cotton, and since 1986 it has contributed at least 1% of annual sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. 

      So whether you're looking for outdoor jackets, running gear, yoga pants, or accessories, you can be assured that you’re receiving high-quality, long-lasting items that will fulfill their purpose but never compromise on ethics. Find their range of products here

      If all this has got you in the sustainable mindset, be sure to check out how you can incorporate sustainability into your training routine here.

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