Your sports bra may be exposing you to more toxic chemicals than you’re sweating out in your daily workout – so here are 15 brands who keep their activewear on the natural side.
According to a new report released by the Californian Center for Environmental Health, the polyester sports bras and athletic shirts made by brands such as Nike and The North Face contain up to 22 times the safe amount of bisphenol A (BPA) as determined by local health laws.
BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. It’s also known to be a hormone disruptor that imitates the effects of estrogen on the body. And while it’s yet to be confirmed what the health risks of BPA are in the capacity of exposure via sports bra, excessive exposure risks may include male and female infertility, early puberty, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. It may also exacerbate other conditions that affect the female reproductive system.
So it’s no surprise that with this finding, people are looking to switch up their activewear to something more natural. BPA aside, the benefits of natural fibres in your activewear outweigh the synthetics by a country mile. Natural fibres such as cotton, organic cotton and wool are hypoallergenic and naturally breathable. Fabrics such as wool are also moisture-wicking and quick-drying.
Of course, natural fibres are also better for the environment, breaking down easily if or when they end up in landfill.
Here are the top brands for low and no-plastic activewear in Australia.
Quick note: A lot of natural fabrics have a small amount of synthetic fibre to allow for stretch. If you’re looking for 100% natural fibres, ensure you check the garment info on the product page before you buy.
Bamboo as a textile has two really great qualities. The first is that it grows naturally and in abundance, so it’s easy to source sustainably, and the second is that it’s soooo soft, making it the ultimate fabric for lounging around or moving in.
Bamboo Body’s loungewear collection includes oversized slouchy tops, pants and tights that are more than appropriate for low-intensity exercise and yoga workouts. Bamboo Body includes detailed information about the brand’s ethical production on its website.
Melbourne-based brand Vege Threads promotes inclusivity, good values and natural clothing. The brand produces its activewear staples onshore, with manufacturing certified by Ethical Clothing Australia, and looks to minimise waste in production.
Their workout wear includes bralettes, tights, shorts and unitards made from soft organic and eco-friendly materials such as certified organic cotton, locally knitted in Melbourne. Organic Yoga Company fabrics are dyed in Melbourne using ACO (Australian Certified Organic) dyes.
One natural and regenerative fibre that’s underrepresented in the activewear category is, of course, wool. Woolerina makes everyday staples including tights and lounge pants, tops and tanks, which are super appropriate for activewear and yoga in particular. The comfortable garments are highly breathable, moisture wicking and hypo-allergenic. Woolerina’s production is all done in Australia and certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.
Sydney-based sustainable basics brand Boody brings super soft bamboo workout wear to the mix. The brand’s bamboo is grown sustainably with no pesticides, no insecticides, no fertilisers, and without any artificial irrigation. Boody says it’s committed to maintaining a responsible and transparent process every step of the way – from the bamboo crops that yield the viscose yarn to the delivery of Boody into your hands. The brand is certified by a number of industry groups for ethical and sustainable production.
Melbourne-based Organic Crew is an ethically accredited, sustainable and organic apparel brand. From the cotton fields to construction, the brand ensures the working conditions of its manufacturers are of the highest standard within the industry. The brand’s apparel includes tops, tanks and pants for your workout, yoga or pilates practice.
The lounge pant, made from a thick 100% organic jersey cotton, is a perfect fit for a slow flow or yin practice. It’s all made in Australia and certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.
ZONE by Lydia, a brand by Olympic champion turned eco-warrior Lydia Lassila, takes a holistic approach to all things wellness and sustainability. Having spent her whole life in activewear, it adds up that the ZONE by Lydia hemp apparel range is made to be active in.
The current collection features hoodies, tees, tanks, track pants and bike shorts. The brand also offers a cork yoga range so that you can feel good about what you are practicing on as well as what you’re practicing in.
Make more than one statement with activewear from Solomon Street. The label creates leggings and crop tops with bright, fun floral and fruit patterns using hemp cotton. The range is ethically made in Bangladesh (in a WRAP-certified factory) using a blend of 53 per cent hemp, 42 per cent organic cotton and 5 per cent elastane. The result is soft, sustainable activewear that’s good for you and the planet.
The designers behind Merino Country are former sheep farmers, so it’s no surprise their go-to fabric is high quality Australian merino wool. The brand makes basic pieces including high quality exercise tights and sports bras suitable for various workouts. Merino Country’s garments are ethically made at their factory in Queensland – I would know, I’ve been there!
Pinky & Kamal makes comfortable and sustainable threads for women who enjoy moving freely, living simply and staying comfortable. The brand specialises in yoga wear made from GOTS-certified organic cotton – providing day-long comfort and support without feeling restricted in any way.
The Pinky & Kamal garments are ethically made in Indonesia by a team of three people with whom the brand works directly, setting their own pricing and payment terms. For every sale, Pinky & Kamal plants a tree through One Tree Planted.
Maker of future fabrics, Kusaga, has developed a fabric that uses less than 1% of the water than it takes to make your average cotton T-shirt. Needless to say, the brand is kicking butt in the sustainability sector, and all its clothing (T-shirts and tanks only at this stage) is ethically produced.
Kusaga Activewear is certified vegan by PETA and is also a part of B Corporation, a group of companies focused on using the power of business as a force for social, environmental and economic good. I highly recommend adding the “World’s Greenest T-Shirt” to your collection.
Sorella Organics is an independent Australian label making a collection of sleepwear and loungewear for men, women, maternity and babies. The brand opts for soft GOTS-certified organic and fair trade cotton ensuring each piece is kind on the skin, kind to the environment, and kind to the farmers growing the cotton.
The collection is made in Australia, Fiji and India. Sorella Organic’s soft staples are perfect for a flow or stretch yoga class, providing breathability and stretch.
Byron Bay’s BAY Active makes lifestyle basics, activewear and yoga wear using GOTS-certified organic cotton, Australian merino, bamboo and the highest quality regenerated fabrics in a fully transparent, certified, and ethical supply chain. The brand’s super comfortable range comes in a variety of cuts and sizes, in staple colours you’ll love.
Bay Active’s Australian-made garments are made by an Ethical Clothing Australia certified manufacturer.
Luna & Soul makes organic cotton pieces for your daily movement. Initially launching in Bali, the brand works with a number of independent dyes and tailors to produce its small range of organic, plant-dyed pieces. The yoga staples range includes bras, pants, tanks, tops and a super cool vinyasa jumpsuit all made from GOTS-certified organic cotton.
BondiEco was born out of a desire to find natural, breathable, stylish activewear amid the prevalence of synthetic products out there. The brand makes a small range of tights and tops in a GOTS-certified organic cotton and bamboo blend.
BondiEco says it’s committed to seeking out sustainable materials and is currently working with small, family-run businesses in Bali and Australia to produce its range. The brand uses organic plant-based dyes and its labels and washing instructions are printed on the garments, saving unnecessary fabric waste.
For more than 25 years, The Ark Clothing Co. has been designed and made in Melbourne by a community of like-minded people who believe design should always be imbued with integrity.
Proudly Australian owned, with an incredibly passionate and talented team of over 70 staff, The Ark has 8 stores and makes small runs of its beautiful basics designs locally and ethically in Australia, certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. Shop for activewear staples such as track pants, sweat shirts and various tops and tees.