January is famously a time when Quality Street no longer becomes an acceptable breakfast food and people rediscover what vegetables taste like without gravy. It's also when everyone and their mum decides to sign up for the gym. And with that comes the purchasing of new workout clothes. But I think this new year's rush to the nearest Decathlon will be a little different in 2020. You see, the major problem with a lot of exercise clothes is that they’re often made from polyester. This is problematic because, with every wash, microfibres from the polyester are washed away and often end up in seas and oceans, damaging the wildlife. It also requires more energy to produce and its production can mean the use of harmful chemicals, which can be toxic to the people creating the garments.
While everyone will still be hunting down new kit, I predict it will also have to be sustainable and ethical. How do I know this? Other than the fact that global fashion search platform Lyst revealed that searches for sustainability have dramatically increased in 2019, I also spoke to Net-a-Porter's Senior Fashion Market Editor Libby Page, who revealed that "conscious consumption is a growing topic which will only grow further in the coming months."
This year, Net-a-Porter launched its Net Sustain initiative—where the retail site showcases sustainable brands—so I asked Libby what to look out for when shopping for new workout wear that means you'll avoid purchasing garments that will damage the environment. Ultimately, it's important to look at the kind of materials you're wearing. "Some of the best workout fabrics include organic cotton, recycled polyester and econyla form of nylon that is made entirely from waste products," says Libby. "But we also have activewear made from fabrics including recycled water bottle materials, fishing nets and other plastic waste. Girlfriend Collective is a prime example of luxurious workout pieces that are made from these materials in a selection of fresh colourways, also achieved using eco-friendly dyes."
By taking Libby's advice, I've rounded up some of the best ethical and sustainable workout clothes. There are a few brands you might already be aware of but there are others that will be new to you. All of them, however, look great. Just because you care about the environment and how your clothes are made does not mean you have to compromise on style. Keep scrolling for seven brands that do good things for the planet.
There's no denying that Veja has become a real market leader when it comes to sustainable footwear. Its sneakers are nearly all made from recyclable or natural materials.
ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY
It will come as no surprise that Stella McCartney's continued collaboration with Adidas is on this list of ethical workout gear. For example, the T-shirt below is made from recycled materials but it's still great for keeping you cool while you're working out.
Patagonia is well known for being one of the brands at the forefront of fighting the climate crisis. This Black Friday, the company made a pledge to match any donations made through its Patagonia Action Works platform that supports grassroots organisations. The final raised amount was £7 million, which will help to fight climate change.
Made from fabrics using recycled water bottles, fishing nets and other plastic waste, the brand designs high-performance leggings, tops and sports bras in chic colourways using eco-friendly dyes.
This Australian brand uses natural dyes and organic yarns. It also uses an innovative circular knitting technique to ensure zero offcut waste and GOTs certified organic cotton.