It is officially the season of sucking it up, pulling on a pair of leggings and getting yourself to the gym. A task that’s made significantly less appealing if those leggings are threadbare and don’t fit quite right around the crotch anymore.
Much of the flattering, figure-hugging activewear we have come to love has been traditionally made using non-biodegradable synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, which are energy-intensive to produce and not biodegradable, meaning they can sit in landfill for hundreds of years.
The good news is that a number of savvy new sustainable labels are offering an alternative, with just as much support and as many style points, so you can be kinder to the planet the next time you update your fit kit.
We’ve compiled a list of the best in the business, with the added bonus of only including Britain-based brands, so your clothes won’t have beaten your personal best on Strava before they even make it to you.
Stripe and Stare
Stripe and Stare are most famous for creating “the most comfortable knickers ever” (which also happen to be compostable), but have since branched into making activewear that promises to be “twice as soft as cotton”. Its material, tencel, is completely biodegradable, so if you happen to drop enough pounds in your Stripe and Stare set that you need a smaller replacement, you can throw it away without an inch of guilt. Stripe and Stare also promise all the benefits of your traditional gym set - moisture wicking, breathable and anti-bacterial - and offer items in a variation of funky tie dye prints, or muted blacks.
London-based entrepreneur Grace Beverley launched TALA in 2019, and it has quickly garnered a loyal Gen Z following. The brand’s best-selling collection, SkinLuxe, is made using 76 per cent recycled nylon and features a sweet-heart seam for subtle booty contouring and flattering high rise waistbands All packaging and product labels are recycled and can either be planted or composted.â The brand prides itself on affordability, with shorts retailing for £40 (shop here) and bras from £36 (shop here).
For the budding gym selfie curator, Adanola is about as stylish as they come. The British brand is as much about activewear as it is about providing an “everyday uniform” - aka activewear that’s so good you want to flounce around your office wearing it all day before you even hit the gym. With the aura of early 2000s GAP, sustainable small production lines, 100 per cent recyclable packaging and an Instagrammability that could rival Calvin Klein, this is the gymwear that’ll make you actually look forward to working out.
If you want sustainable activewear that puts its money where its mouth is, opt for FeelFit - the South West based gymwear brand manufactures its items from organic cotton, recycled cotton and Econyl, a material created from pre and post consumer waste nylon. The brand’s Bristol store is even powered by the spin bikes that visitors ride, sending 74 per cent of this energy back to the local grid in the process. The business as a whole is carbon neutral, and has a tree planting scheme to boot (for each item sold, one is planted). If you’re planning on leaving this earth with rock hard abs and a guilt-free conscience, this is the brand for you.
Manchester-born activewear brand Contur also uses Econyl to produce sculpting leggings, shorts and tops. We love the shape of the Afresh v-neck crop, featuring a long-line silhouette and under band for support (£49.99, shop here). Items come in varying hues, from bright yellow, to pink, navy, burgundy and khaki, meaning there’s something for every mood.
A brand that hails from the Big Smoke itself, Pruzan promises “gender agnostic, boundary transgressing designs” for people that don’t need a side order of conformity with their workout wear. All its pieces are crafted from recycled and deadstock materials, and while Pruzan’s collection of activewear items is primarily designed for running, it’s also suitable for just about any cardio you can think of.
For “babes who care” Kiht Collective is the perfect activewear brand for those who want to feel a little bit feminine when they hit the gym, whether that be in a cotton candy coloured two piece, or Skims-style tan cycling shorts. The Manchester-based brand plants a tree for every order and relies on ethical processes, partnerning with the charity Fair Wear to ensure better working conditions for factory employees. Kiht Collective also buys all its own wasteage from factory production so they can donate it to charity, keeping the sustainable cycle going. And to top it all off, it’s affordable! Kiht Collective’s bestselling crop tops start from £12.50, or their cult bike shorts can be yours for just £35.
Luxury activewear brand Silou, founded by former model Tatiana Kovylina and yogi Phoebe Greenacre, creates activewear also made of Econyl and Tencel, as well as Q-Nova, crafted from recyclable plastic fibres, and organic cotton. All of Silou’s products are also made in Europe in ethically responsible factories. The price point is elevated, but so are the fabrics and fits.
London-based sustainable brand SOS (which stands for Save Our Seas) Activewear uses material from regenerated ocean plastic and discarded fabric scraps to craft gorgeous workout gear. Its ultra soft quarter zip jumper is ideal for pairing with leggings, but our favourite item in the collection has to be the Minke Sports Bra (£60, also above) in blue with contrast white and black straps - it’s perfect for a yoga, barre or Pilates class, and can even be used for swimming too!