Frankies Bikinis has grown to be one of the number one swimwear brands on Instagram. Frankies Bikinis’ 1.1 Million Instagram followers certainly proves their domination of the industry, and models including Kylie Jenner and Hailey Baldwin proudly boast their Frankies on social media. Overall, Frankies Bikinis does produce more collections per year than the average swimwear brand, making them appear more as a “fast fashion” brand, however their luxury item prices say something different. Averaging $85 a piece, Frankies Bikinis are not the most affordable brand, however their quality does live up to the price. The range of styles, colors, and sizes does allow for more inclusivity, and they have released several collections that use more sustainable materials. The collection that came out in June of 2020 features two different patterns (solid black and houndstooth), and a range of styles using a more eco-friendly and biodegradable material. However, Frankies Bikinis does not have much transparency regarding their production and manufacturing, and they could be doing a lot more to make more of their products as eco-friendly as this collection.
When Frankies Bikinis first came out with this sustainable swimwear collection in June of 2020, I was blown away at the similarities between their past collections, and this new sustainable collection. The designs, styles, and way they fit the body were consistent with their brand. Looking into the makeup of the suits from this collection, I was surprised to find out that they are essentially the same material as almost any other suit from their website: roughly 80-88% Nylon and 12-20% Spandex. The only difference found in the suits of the sustainable collection is that they are made from Amni Soul Eco®, a biodegradable Nylon material created by the Italian textile company Fulgar. Because Frankies Bikinis’ website has no detailed information regarding the sourcing, production, and distribution of their products, I looked instead looked at Fulgar’s webpage to learn more about this polyamide material that I had never heard of. Amni Soul Eco® Nylon biodegrades in landfills within 5 years, whereas other materials can take double, triple, or even more time to break down. The material can be broken down by bacteria under anaerobic conditions (lacking oxygen) typically found in the landfill, but it will not wear down under normal “everyday” conditions, making it long-lasting and durable for consumers. Additionally, the Amni Soul Eco® material has an Oekotex® certification, which means that it contains no harmful or toxic substances to humans. Unfortunately, because Frankies Bikinis is not transparent on the sourcing of their spandex, I had to look at general statistics regarding spandex in the textile industry. Spandex is chemically produced, and thus has certain negative environmental impacts derived from its synthetic production. First, spandex is highly energy intensive to produce, and toxic chemicals may be used in its creation. Because spandex is non-biodegradable, spandex is very wasteful and is rarely recycled.
Online, it is very difficult to find information regarding the manufacturing of Frankies Bikinis. On Frankies Bikinis website, the only information found is in one-sentence on their “Our Story” page, stating that they are “inspired by Malibu and made in Los Angeles.” Looking at other reviews online, I found that they are made in Los Angeles, Bali, and Indonesia, although there were no direct statements from Frankies Bikinis that confirmed this. Since I own some Frankies products, I was able to look the physical product and confirm that they are made in the USA and Indonesia. Frankies Bikinis are designed in Los Angeles, and based on the minimal information online, most of their product may be created in Los Angeles, as well as these foreign countries. Shipping materials and products from foreign countries does increase overall greenhouse gas emissions, however the quality of their products is extremely high and does not change based on where it is created. Specific to the sustainable collection that launched in June 2020, there is a little more information regarding the creation of the Amni Soul Eco® material. The process of making the yarns allows for the reuse of water, and the greenhouse gas emissions are reduced because the gasses are treated before being released to the atmosphere. How much of a difference this makes, I was not able to determine due to the minimal information online. Looking at Fulgar as a company, however, I found their website to focus greatly on sustainability. They had pages dedicated to their sustainability commitments, extreme transparency and information regarding their products, details about how the product biodegrades, and videos explaining their reduced energy usage in their manufacturing processes. Overall, there is very little information coming from Frankies Bikinis, so I would encourage them to be more transparent in how and where their products are made.
Frankies Bikinis started when Francesca Aiello, who at the time was still in high school, began creating custom bikinis for both herself and her friends. At the age of 18, she launched Frankies Bikinis and her brand quickly gained momentum in the fashion industry, catching the eye of many famous models and stars. Aiello’s brand started from a desire to wear suits that were more flattering for the body. Several years later, the brand focuses on inclusivity and body positivity, and their diversity has been increasing in the past few years. Aiello is the lead designer of Frankies Bikinis, and in a recent Instagram “Behind the Brand” video collaboration with Revolve, she spoke about her decision to release several capsule collections per year instead of the standard two “summer” and “resort" collections of most other brands. By doing so, Frankies Bikinis stays on top of current trends and constantly gives shoppers new arrivals. Because of this, Frankies Bikinis does promote consumerism, but compared to many fast fashion swimwear brands, Frankies Bikinis does have a stronger sense of sustainability, and as seen in their 2020 sustainable collection and their most recent collaboration with Hailey Steinfield that also features more sustainable products. As a brand, I do think that their releasing of several collections per year does increase shoppers’ desire to buy and spend more. Additionally, not all of Frankies Bikinis products are made using specifically identified "sustainable" (or more ethical) materials. I am giving them a 1 in this category because while they have proven an interest in sustainability, I think that they could be doing a lot more to really move forward in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.