Whether for style or necessity, choosing lingerie that flatters the figure while remaining comfortable can sometimes feel like an endless endeavour. Adding sustainability into the mix may seem a bit out of grasp. However, sustainable and eco-friendly fabrics that are flattering and offer maximum comfort have become increasingly abundant in the market — finding sustainable lingerie that feels and looks great has never been so easy.
Fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry and responsible for incredibly high rates of environmental and marine pollution across the globe. The production of polyester alone is incredibly energy intensive and environmentally harmful. This is because the fibre is actually in part, derived from petroleum and oil industry, and many manufacturers use heavy dyes that tend not to be readily decomposable or soluble in water. Over the past five years, however, alongside increasing global awareness around environmental issues, many fast fashion retailers and luxury houses have begun placing a far more significant emphasis on sustainability. Brands like Stella McCartney, Free People and Patagonia, have proven it possible to create stylish and comfortable sustainably sourced garments. We now hold clothing retailers more accountable for their impact on the ecosystem, yet the environmental impact of innerwear continues to be an afterthought.
“Brands like Stella McCartney, Free People and Patagonia, have proven it possible to create stylish and comfortable sustainably sourced garments.”
In the past, finding lingerie that had excellent support, fit, shape, look and feel was an impossible task, but now, great lingerie that encompasses all of these is much more attainable. Brands have been diversifying and placing greater importance on their lingerie offerings, meaning sustainably sourced options can now be prioritised in purchase decisions. A new flurry of lingerie brands has emerged, creating great looking and feeling underwear that checks all the sustainability boxes without sacrificing comfort or style. Some of the best innovations in lingerie have been in new sustainable wood-based fibres that can significantly reduce the fabric’s impact on the environment.
Wood-based fibres are produced from wood sourced in sustainably managed forests, which tend to have a far less detrimental impact on the environment in comparison to other natural fibres. Not only do they produce less wastewater than cotton, but they also do not require pesticides. Wood-based fibres are highly recyclable and biodegradable and can completely disintegrate into compost after just four months. Polyester, on the other hand, could take anywhere between 20 and 200 years to biodegrade.
Wood-based fibres don’t just help the environment; they also offer great comfort to the wearer too. TENCELTM branded lyocell and modal fibres, for example, provide enhanced breathability and lasting softness, meaning they are more effective than other fibres including polyester at keeping the wearer cosy. Plus, the garment will be kept looking better for longer since the colours fade less easily. They can look great and trendy too, as proven by eco-chic Parisian lingerie brand “Do You Green,” which uses fabric made from recycled pine needles, sourced from sustainable forests to create unique, elegant and sexy pieces. Eco-friendly cotton blends are also abundantly available, such as those made with REFIBRATM technology, a fabric production process that blends upcycled cotton collected from garment factories with wood pulp.
With so many new sustainable fibres on the market, finding them in-store or online may seem overwhelming. If you are shopping in-store, looking at product labels is a great place to start! Currently, there are over 25 ecolabels that typically appear on clothing tags. Be on the lookout for ecolabels that signpost sustainably sourced materials such as “EU Ecolabel” and “IMO certified” underwear. The materials used in the making of the fabric are listed on the product tag too, so make sure to look out for new sustainable fibres such as wood-based Lyocell, Modal, and Viscose. If you’re a fan of online shopping, you can also check out the “Good On You” mobile app, which rates brands based on their sustainable and environmental practices.
It has never been easier to purchase fashionable and sustainable lingerie. Next time you’re shopping for underwear, take a closer look at the tag and note its fabric’s composition. You will be surprised at just how easy it is to do your part to sustain a green and healthy environment. It will also make you feel as amazing as the underwear makes you look.