The Weekend Series: five ethical, sustainable activewear brands to get your booty in right now
We all don activewear for different reasons. Some may be wrangling hardcore weights, while others may be walking to brunch or shopping for groceries – but regardless of its function, we can all agree we want to feel good wearing it. You can mull over as many seams and fabric choices as you like, but the most foolproof way to ensure you feel good while wearing your athleisure gear is to choose homegrown, ethical and sustainable brands. We’ve hunted down five of the best we’re loving right now.
This Bondi-based brand ticks off all the essentials on the sustainable activewear checklist: apparel is crafted from 100% certified organic cotton, recycled fibres, sustainable bamboo and recycled nylon ECONYL®; all packaging is recyclable (heck, even the strings on the swing tags can be recycled); there is transparency throughout the supply chain with factories audited bi-annually; and thanks to a partnership with Carbon Neutral Australia’s Plant-A-Tree program, FIRST BASE even plants a tree on your behalf every time you shop, which helps offset the carbon emissions linked to your purchase. Leaving no sustainable stone unturned, founder Alison Cotton also keeps customers up to date with the brand’s positive impact in terms of plastic waste recycled, drinking water saved and trees planted. Head online to check out the latest additions and Autumn, High Summer and Swim collections.
Every step of the design process brings sustainability to the forefront for Sydney label NAGNATA, from using certified organic cotton and yarns to minimising wastage, avoiding synthetic fibres where possible, upcycling textiles, using natural dyes, engaging in ethical manufacturing and participating in fair trade projects. The brand’s involvement in fair trade artisan initiatives aims to support female empowerment, alleviate poverty and nurture income-earning opportunities for communities in need. Such projects have involved supporting women working in traditional handloom weaving in India, helping to develop a textile upcycling program in Jaipur and participating in a Himalayan community’s environmental conservation program. In 2017, the brand introduced the MOVEMENT 001 collection of zero-yarn-waste organic cotton technical knitwear, which sees garments constructed as full pieces, rather than the classic but wasteful cut-and-sew method. Head online to shop the goods, which come packaged in a resusable organic cotton tote bag dyed with AZO-free dyes.
to Barwyn and back
If you think a pair of high-vis trackpants with water-resistant side panels and a Merino wool blend crotch sounds like a dream come true, then to Barwyn and back is the activewear brand you’ve been searching for. Aimed at getting more butts on bikes, the Melbourne-based label combines comfort with practicality to facilitate men’s, women’s and even kids’ urban adventures. Boasting antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, hi-vis, quick-dry, insulative, durable, stretchy, water-repelling, sun-protective and retro-reflective features, the compact collection of technical streetwear is perfect for however you like to move – skateboarding at dusk, running at dawn, or cycling to and from work. Rather than adapting standard clothing to athletic pursuits, founder Gemma Baxter created unique pieces with a cheeky nod to cycling culture that allow you to comfortably ride to work in the morning and head straight to drinks after knock-off. She aimed to make the collection more sustainable than most cyclewear on the market, gaining accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia, incorporating locally milled materials and a fabric that employs 64 percent of fibres made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled waterbottles. Gemma has recently launched a new junior street vest to keep kids safe on their bikes and will soon release her first run of tech socks with reflective details. Learn more about the label’s fabric technology and shop all nine pieces online.
Filling the gap in the male activewear market, SQDAthletica aims to kit the guys out with sharp threads and accessories fit for movement. The brand’s Orion training collection is produced from PET, the raw material found in clear plastic bottles, which has already prevented more than 13,300 plastic bottles from ending up in landfill over the past year. Each piece in the collection is composed of between six and 10 recycled plastic bottles. Choosing 100 percent recycled polyester over virgin polyester has also helped to reduce SQDAthletica’s carbon emissions. The collection features Polygiene® anti-odour technology, which uses 100% recycled silver chloride to break down the bacteria in sweat that causes clothes to stink – thereby requiring fewer washes, and saving both water and energy. Check out the line of functional clothing at Gasworks, Pacific Fair or online.
This is ethically minded entrepreneurialism at its best. Boasting a well-curated range of basics, activewear and yoga wear in sizes 6–18, the Byron Bay label incorporates GOTS-certified organic cotton, Australian Merino wool, sustainable bamboo and ECONYL® repurposed from fishing nets, wetsuits and industrial plastics that have been rescued from ocean beds in a fully transparent, ethical and externally audited supply chain. Bay Active also supports the Buy 1, Give 1 initiative, which means that every time you buy a piece of clothing, you’re helping to clothe a rescued child, provide clean drinking water or buy a sewing machine for a woman in India. Read more about Bay Active’s certifications, farmers and fabrics online, before taking your picks from women’s activewear, kids’ yoga mats and yoga equipment.
Image: Bay Active