I always find it difficult to find sustainable, affordable and fashionable swimwear, and for me, it just doesn’t make sense to go into the ocean wearing something that is ultimately going to harm it. My research has found that the Stay Wild brand really is serious about their environmental and ethical impact, and sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. In fact, even the thread and buttons that they use are completely sustainable! I do feel that there are aspects of sustainability that the company could provide more information on i.e. carbon emissions or the natural resources used in their garment production, however, overall they are a great, small and ethical business.
To conclude, whilst I would obviously encourage you to buy less, if you are going to buy something, buy better. Stay Wild offers the opportunity to do so; their swimwear is made with sustainable materials, made ethically and made to last. Thus, if you are based in the United Kingdom and it is absolutely necessary for you to invest in new swimwear, I would definitely recommend supporting Stay Wild.
The Stay Wild website has an informative and thorough sustainability page where they provide information on all of the materials that they use, including the thread that they sew with! This is awesome to see. To begin with, their swimwear is made from Econyl®, a type of nylon that is created from regenerated waste including old fishing nets and industrial fabric scraps. This fabric’s estimated climate impact is 90% less than traditional nylon! Stay Wild also uses other sustainable materials including TencelTM, and EcoveroTM which are fabrics produced from wood pulp in highly resource efficient processes. Their TencelTM products are biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil and marine conditions which means they are much more sustainable to dispose of, and the EcoveroTM that they use generates up to 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than normal viscose. It also has a smaller water impact and releases no chemicals in the production process. I can see that a great deal of thought and care has gone into ensuring that more sustainable materials are used in Stay Wild’s products. To top it off, even the smallest of details are environmentally friendly - they use rPet thread made from recycled plastic bottles and even use biodegradable buttons!
The founders of Stay Wild swimwear are both passionate about protecting nature, and the company’s ethos is built on sustainability. Firstly, their garments are produced in small quantities and are not constantly restocked online or in their shop. This means that there is a slow turnover of products, which is much more sustainable than fast-fashion shops. Secondly, the Econyl® yarn that Stay Wild use comes from Italy, and according to the company has been “evaluated as a high-quality, durable and sustainable techno-fibre – perfect for performance swimwear”. It is really important that products are made to last, as emissions from the production and disposal of clothes can be reduced by up to 24% by simply doubling the life of your clothes from one to two years! This is because products that last reduce the amount of waste created and the need for new materials.
Additionally, all of Stay Wild’s products are Oeko-Tex®️ certified. This stands for the “International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology” and means that every component of the material that is used at Stay Wild, right down to the buttons, have been tested for harmful substances to certify that it is harmless for human health and the planet. It is a great certification to look out for and means that the product is made with people and the planet in mind. As a result, their products are quite expensive, with the average swimsuit priced over 100 Pounds. However, because Stay Wild’s products are made to last and with sustainability at their heart, I think that a product from the brand is a really good investment.
The Stay Wild garments are made in a factory in London and the founders state that sales mostly take place in the UK, which decreases the amount of greenhouse gases released in the shipping process. They also mentioned that international shipping is not common due to the cost of carbon neutral transport which requires that customers pay to offset their carbon emission. I am concerned that some of the materials that the company use are produced in Italy and Turkey, meaning that the materials need to be transported to London. I want to assume that the initial transport of materials from Italy and Turkey to the UK is also carbon neutral, however it would be nice if the company released this information.
The company has also started a circularity project to keep valuable materials out of landfills and in textile circulation. Stay Wild collects worn, old and broken swimming costumes from any brand and sends them to a recycling factory to be made into eco-industrial products i.e. eco-carpet underlay. They provide instructions on the website on how to post the old swimwear to the company, and offer incentive to support this project in the form of a voucher which goes toward their next purchase. Ordinarily I would say that this is simply encouraging consumers to buy more, which is not sustainable. However, it is only a small contribution toward any of the Stay Wild products, which are an environmentally friendly option. That being said, the recycling process of clothing can be resource intensive and use significant amounts of water and energy. Stay Wild do not disclose their recycling partner and do not provide any information on the greenhouse gases emitted in the process which I think is important information.
The London-based factory that makes Stay Wild’s garments, hires and trains people from disadvantaged backgrounds; their employees are taught to stitch and cut pattens, which is useful for future employment opportunities. Both founders of the company - Natalie Glaze and Zanna van Dijk are based in London and explain that because of this, they are involved in Stay Wild’s whole production process and have been able to create relationships with the employees who make their clothes. According to them, these relationships allow for the production of ethical and high-quality items, which I think is what every company needs. From what I can see, it does seem as though the company has strong ethical policies in place to ensure the fair treatment of all their workers. However it would be nice to know the exact factory that they use, which is something the company does not disclose. Lastly, an important factor in ‘who makes the brand’ are the people who model Stay Wild’s products. When starting up, the company did an open cast call for models on social media in order to find a range of models who reflect real women. The company’s Instagram is proof that they have been able to do this, and it is so enjoyable scrolling through such an inclusive and authentic swimwear line that is also conscious of their environmental impact.