Ethical Underwear That Are Sustainably Stylish: Our Favorite Brands

Part of our mission at Puratium is to promote change and BE part of it; fast fashion has to disappear. And the solution, to a great extent, lies with us eco-conscious customers! 

We understand buying second-hand underwear, and lingerie isn’t really appealing. The great news, though, is that the fashion industry is slowly progressing in the right direction.

You can now easily find ethical underwear brands worldwide, using recycled materials or eco friendly materials, hence reducing the amount of water and chemicals entailed in production.

We will also share our view at the end regarding the use of spandex.

Image by Knickey.com
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Image by Knickey.com

So why this article? We wanted to compile a list of ethical underwear brands with the notion that variety is key. We want both men and women from all horizons and sizes to feel and find their own kind of beautiful.

Hence, among the below 9 beautiful and sustainable options, you’ll find:

  • Underwear brands that offer ‘basic’ – yet versatile and simple essentials that you will never grow tired of: Organic Basics is one of our favorites made in Europe.
  • Brands that go beyond basic ethical standards and promote diversity as the ‘new normal’: Miakoda and Thunderpants are exceptional in that regard.
  • An all-compostable option thanks to The Very Good Bra.
  • A style adapted to small breasts thanks to Aikyou. And bras with or without padding.
  • Sustainable and ethical underwear accessible to all; pieces for men, kids, and even babies will be listed below.
  • sexy touch with transparent pieces thanks to our favorite lingerie brand Underprotection.

Let’s find your ideal – vegan friendly only – sustainable underwear close to your location!

Knickey
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Knickey
  • Recycling program
  • Affordable 
Boody
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Boody
  • Trustworthy certifications
  • Breathable, thermo-regulating features
Organic Basics
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Organic Basics
  • Low impact website
  • Everyday basic essentials

Knickey - USA

Knickey Ethical Underwear
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Image by Knickey.com

Social & Environmental Practices 

Knickey’s Fair Trade certified factories guarantee workers living wages, decent working hours, and the right to unionize. Moreover, this entails providing additional funding to invest in local communities.

The garments’ non-GMO organic cotton seeds are sourced from a farm in Gujarat, India. The rest of the process is handled in a few other Indian factories before they are shipped to Knikey’s HQ in NYC.

In terms of manufacture, using certified organic cotton goes together with using only Oeko Tex Certified dyes in the process.

This means free from toxic chemicals in any part of the production; no pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, including unpronounceable yet dangerous substances like formaldehyde or pentachlorophenol.

Thus, GOTS certified organic cotton perks are numerous: from farming to waste management by labor and health-related practices. It is estimated that this production method has a quarter of the environmental impact of conventional cotton!

Materials & Packaging  

These sustainable, ethical underwear are made with certified organic fabrics, free from harmful toxins, and carcinogens for your nethers. This results in a wearable, breathable item that lets moisture evaporate more quickly.

Typically, Knickey’s undies are made of 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane for stretchiness.

As for the style, most collections come in a variety of core colors (white/beige/brown/black) and limited release with brighter colors.

Whether you prefer a low rise, mid-rise or high-rise, this underwear brand won’t disappoint you! As for the sizes, this high-quality cotton underwear is available from XXS to XL.

This organic cotton underwear price range is remarkable: 13 USD per piece and 60 USD for a started set ideal for Knickey Newbs.

In terms of their packaging, it is 100% plastic-free and made from post-consumer recycled paper products, and they also make use of low impact inks.

Their boxes are produced by FSC-certified suppliers who prioritize the preservation of natural ecosystems and prevent deforestation.

Ethical Underwear by Knickey
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Image by Knickey.com

Why This Brand

We vouch for Knickey’s recycling program! Did you know that approximately 95% of textiles ending in landfills could have been recycled?

The brand has a dedicated ‘second chance’ system allowing its customers to send back ready-to-retire intimates. By breaking down old textiles into new recycled fibers, they create new rags, pads, and rugs.

Bear in mind that the service is exclusively available in the US. For each box of undies sent for recycling, you’ll receive a free pair in your next order. A dedicated approach to circular fashion!

We also highly appreciate this eco friendly brand’s mission to be part of the global, long term solution.

While detailing the pollution issues at the fabrication level and how brands can lower their impact, they encourage their customers to lessen their garments’ harmful effects on the planet in concrete, simple ways.

How? Read all about its Clean Up Your Act through Shopping – Laundry – Disposal.

Knickey Canva
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Boody - USA, UK, Australia

Social & Environmental Practices 

Committed to producing high-quality products sourced sustainably, the brand holds an impressive number of certifications. To name a few:

  • Eco-Cert: a global organic accreditation that they have received for their raw bamboo.
  • PETA vegan approved.
  • ISO 14001: reducing their negative environmental impact is in Boody’s DNA.
  • WRAP: this ensures their factories are free of child and forced labor and allows decent working conditions.

As for their charitable work, they are part of the 1% For The Planet organization. We particularly like their Giving Bracelet; all profits raised are donated to associations fighting against malaria.

Founded in Australia, where its main warehouse is located, this eco friendly brand ships from locations globally, including Asia and South Africa. Make sure to order from the relevant – closest – country extension site.

Lastly, we recommend this eco friendly brand for being a proud user of zero waste manufacturing thanks to computer knitting into seamless fabrics. For more details on this exciting topic, go to this section in particular.

Boody Ethical Underwear
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Image by boody.com.au

Materials & Packaging  

Boody’s vegan-friendly underwear is made of a mix of viscose made from bamboo (usually around 75 or 80%), nylon, and spandex.

Bamboo is a soft, durable fabric harvested in responsibly managed forests in the Sichuan Province of China. There are various ecological reasons for opting for bamboo viscose. To name a few (1):

  • It is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world.
  • It can be continually re-harvested with no harm done to the nearby environment.
  • It is used as food, fiber, and shelter while requiring little care and maintenance.
  • It is known to help preserve soil and even prevent soil erosion.
  • It is naturally resistant and does not require any pesticides or herbicides.

Regarding packaging, Boody uses recycled paper for their boxes as well as vegetable-based ink.

Why This Brand

Boody offers a collection of super-soft babywear, including Onesies and sleeveless bodysuits made of 95% bamboo and 5% spandex. These everyday essentials are free from any harmful chemicals and are ideal for sensitive skins.

If you are expecting a tiny human soon, this article on how to prepare a minimalist baby registry will be of great help.

For men, the fair trade brand sells three types, i.e., boxes, long boxes, and briefs in either white, grey, or black. Thanks to its sustainable materials, these bamboo viscose underwear provide maximum support.

A detail worth mentioning is the brands’ strategy to put facts behind words. For each item you look up, you’ll know precisely the amount of water saved, the surface of land farmed without pesticides, and the number of driving emissions avoided compared to conventional products.

All in all, we like Boody’s ethical underwear for its breathable, odor-resistant, thermo-regulating features while being extremely comfortable all day long.

Boody Canva
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Organic Basics - Denmark

Organic Basics Models
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Image by organicbasics.com

Social & Environmental Practices

All Organic Basics’ factories are located in Europe and Turkey and are free of child labor and forced labor. We commend the brand’s transparency regarding its supply chain and manufacturing processes.

You can easily explore each factory’s inside world: the certifications it holds, but also the number of employees, working conditions, benefits, and the like.

Organic Basics is committed to using sustainable materials for all products. They handpick their fabrics taking into account their environmental footprint and lifetime durability. Concretely, this means only using class A & B fibers; these are either renewable, recycled, biodegradable, or low-impact textiles only.

In addition to being part of the 1% for the Planet association, the eco friendly company started a fund supporting various grassroots activists and organizations whose ambitions are to address our planet’s environmental crises.

Materials & Packaging  

The B Corp certified brand is not entirely vegan as they use recycled cashmere and recycled wool for specific pieces.

However, when it comes to OB’s ethical underwear, the main fabrics are vegan friendly; GOTS certified organic cotton or Tencel, combined with elastane (around 5% of the total).

Moreover, Tencel Lyocell is an attractive, environmentally responsible material as it uses 80% less water than cotton plants.

Mainly, it comes from fast-growing Aspen and Birch trees in central European forests. And the final product is a biodegradable fiber that feels softer and lighter than cotton.

Lastly, their packaging is made from recycled paper that is easily reusable. As for the shipping box, it is made out of FSC certified cardboard.

For those unfamiliar with the Forest Stewardship Council, its mission is to shift global forest management towards a more environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable governance.

Organic basics ethical underwear
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Image by Organicbasics.com

Why This Brand

Here’s an interesting fact that you may not have heard of. Did you know how ‘dirty’ the internet is?

To put this in simple terms, data transfer and storage require a tremendous amount of electricity, which inherently creates carbon emissions.

However, the fair trade Danish brand decided to do things differently thanks to its Low Impact website.

Compared to other similar websites, theirs reduces up to 70% of data transfer. This is achieved by, among others, uploading images only at the request of the user, avoiding videos, or compressing data to its highest possible extent.

A last reason behind the ‘why’ is its Fashion is Dirty page. It calls for substantial change and action while being a to-the-point-directory about everything wrong with fast fashion practices.

Organic basics are one of our all-time favorite ethical underwear brands and offer even more everyday basic essentials we invite you to have a look at.

Organic Basics - Canva
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Miakoda - USA

Social & Environmental Practices

Miakoda’s sustainable underwear and athletic wear are made in New York local factories, respecting slow fashion ethics. The brand is entirely cruelty-free and vegan guaranteed. All fabrics are either GOTS, or Control Union certified.

As for the source of these ethical underwear’s materials:

  • In India or Turkey, where organic cotton is ethically harvested.
  • In China, for its organic bamboo fiber. The yarn is Oeko Tex certified (Standard 100). Being incredibly soft, bamboo is also an incredible renewable source. It grows fast with little water and has the ability to improve soil quality—more on this topic under Boody’s section.

As for the dyes, the fabrics are tinted with Procion low impact, fiber reactive dyes. They require low-temperature water for processing, and only salt and soda ash are used as auxiliary agents.

Lastly, all its factories are sweatshop-free guaranteed: they abide by the Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) regulations, thus ensuring safe, healthy working conditions.

Materials & Packaging  

The minimalist brand offers only a few intimates items: we are particular fans of the Active Bralette and the Classic Bodysuit. Thanks to its snap closure at crotch, you’ll be sure to get easy-bathroom-access.

Its materials are plant-based: the bodysuit is made of 95% bamboo and 5% spandex. As for the bralette, the list changes to bamboo, organic cotton, and a spandex blend.

Free of toxic chemicals for your skin and the earth, the eco-conscious brand also ensured that the size and measurements charts are comprehensive. Most garments come in sizes XS up to 3XL.

Lastly, we are thrilled to point out that the brand uses 100% recycled materials for packing:

  • 100% recycled post-consumer and post-industrial content for the shipping boxes.
  • The garments and shipping bags are made of either 100% recycled poly mailers or polyethylene.
  • Even the paper INSIDE the packaging is recycled.
 

Why This Brand

We commend the brand’s transparency in terms of supply chain and its mission to be inclusive, representing people with disabilitiesfrom all ethnicities, and for bodies of all sizes. 

Thus, they are currently expanding to a 4XL sizing for most items, with the possibility to buy the Bodysuit in that size.

Namely, Miakoda is not typical womenswear; it is everybody’s wear and underwear!

Miakoda Canva
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Underprotection - Denmark

Social & Environmental Practices 

The Danish brand partners exclusively with suppliers holding at least the below certifications. Thus, this ensures proper labor practices, including fair wages for all employees around the world.

  • WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production)
  • Sedex, to empower a company’s sustainable supply chain
  • GOTS certified organic cotton
  • BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative)
  • Oeko-Tex: additionally, all factories are free of harmful chemicals either on the premises or in the materials sewn on site.

Concretely, these certifications allow an independent third party to assess the factories’ reality, thanks to regular announced and unannounced visits.

As for its blonde lingerie, all is sewn in Europe. For all ethical underwear on the brand’s list, you can easily find out where it what produced. Most of the time, the items are manufactured in Greece, Latvia, or India.

In terms of environmental efforts, they send as many products as possible by ship and train, while using planes as little as possible.

Materials & Packaging

Recycled materials are at the core of Underprotection’s style. Recycled nylon and recycled polyester as primary materials, combined with elastane or recycled elastane. They also use Lyocell on certain underwear, such as our all-time favorite Freya Triangle Bra.

All its synthetic materials are GRS (Global Recycle Standard) certified, and Oeko Tex certified. Most items are PETA certified and, therefore, vegan friendly.

If they are not, the reason lies in the brand’s use of recycled wool or waste resources such as milk.

Moreover, the brand offers a typical XS-XL size range.

The Copenhagen-based brand has put sustainable packaging as a priority, either by minimizing its use in the first place or by reusing the boxes from customers or supplies. As for the products’ protection, they use either biodegradable materials or recycled plastic.

As for its postal bags and pockets (recycled plastics), these are also GRS certified.

Why This Brand

In addition to its highly sustainable standards, we LOVE the brand’s style: a subtle mix of chic and sexy!

And this while producing ethical underwear made with recycled materials and thoughtful packaging. What else?

Lastly, we are huge fans of the brand’s ethical swimwear made from recycled polyester, i.e., plastic bottles and other plastics that are not ending in the ocean!

They offer a few swimsuit options with thin adjustable straps for pregnant women: how cool is that?

Underprotection Canva
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Aikyou - Germany

Aikyou Ethical Underwear
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Social & Environmental Practices 

In addition to using certified organic cotton, the brand is FairTrade, and Oeko Tex 100 certified, ensuring high sustainability standards throughout the supply chain. All producers are entitled to fair wages and decent working conditions.

All materials used for their chic and sustainable underwear are manufactured in Europe. They are committed to high-quality standards, with environmentally and socially compatible ways of working.

The cotton yarn is spun in Germany, where the fabric is also eventually knitted and cut. The sewing takes place in a Fairtrade certified workshop in Croatia.

Lastly, Aikyou’s environmental responsibility pairs with animal welfare. Not only do they love their 2 office dogs, but they also donate part of their revenues to the Pro Animale association.

Materials & Packaging

In general, Aikyou’s sustainable underwear is made of 92% certified organic cotton. The rest is made of 8% of high-grade polyamide-elastane blends sourced in Europe.

All materials follow the Oeko Tex certified (standard 100) and are non-allergenic. This includes the closures and adjusters (made of die-cast zinc).

We asked the German brand about its packaging practices. They confirmed using FSC certified envelopes for all lingerie items. These are being protected thanks to FSC certified composite combined with a biodegradable protective layer made of corn starch. 

Regarding the bras’ available sizes, expect a range from XS (30/32A) to L (34B/40A) with a reasonable price range.

Why This Brand

This eco friendly brand offers paddable options for a bra like the Racerback. More generally speaking, all bras are designed for small busts.

Aikyou’s motto is to let women feel more feminine and comfortable with their lingerie, without push-ups or underwiring.

Inspired by a Japanese female name, the brand can be translated as ‘love & respect.’

We also like this ethical underwear’s intense and long-lasting colors. Aikyou’s approach regarding timeless fashion is remarkable: there are no seasonal collections, but instead, they add new parts to their current model range.

Lastly, the German team goes beyond the slow and sustainable fashion rules by tackling its carbon footprint seriously.

Namely, their offices function with green electricity, and they ship via DHL GoGreen.

Aikyou Germany Canva
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Thunderpants - New Zealand & USA

Social & Environmental Practices  

In terms of the supply chain, it would be difficult to do any better: their Minority Woman-owned factory is 7 miles from the office!

This ethical underwear is made and designed in Portland, OR. While they do not conduct official audits, the team commits to monthly on-site visits, ensuring that none of the production is outsourced.

The sustainable and ethical brand uses Fair Trade Certified, and GOTS certified organic cotton yarn sourced in India for its bulk production.

The knitting part is currently done in Melbourne: Thunderpants US is the little sister of the family-owned Thunderpants NZ based in Wairarapa, New Zealand – celebrating 20 years!

However, in a constant effort to producing locally, the team is currently looking for a US mill with similar certifications and standards.

Materials & Packaging  

This ethical underwear is made from 90% organic cotton and 10% spandex to give your undies a soft, stretchy feel. The brand also creates beautiful bralettes and camis to match with their comfy undies.

We appreciate the brand’s offer in terms of the size range, from Small to XXXL.

And what we mainly love about this cotton underwear is its unique, colorful design made for women and men of all shapes, sizes, and ages.

The brand’s philosophy of dignity and respect is embedded all over its collections.

Good to know: you can find cute kids’ underwear for a price range of 16 to 18 USD each in three sizes, including a few unisex options.

In terms of packaging, the brand reuses its boxes several times.

Why This Brand

The brand’s discreet donation approach is available upon request; we like that they donate on a monthly or one-off basis to various charitable causes without making a big fuss about it.

They support both local and national causes, including associations supporting black entrepreneurs.

Additionally, Thunderpants’ variety makes it one of our favorite eco friendly underwear brands. On top of the above-described items, you can find leggings and bralettes fitting the needs of pregnant women.

Bike shorts, swimwear, and men’s underwear are also available in vivid colors and unparalleled designs.

Thunderpants Canva
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The Very Good Bra - Australia

Social & Environmental Practices 

The Very Good Bra was launched in 2017 with the – obsessive – idea that a plastic-free bra was no longer a pipe dream. This is the main reason why this ethical underwear is on Puratium’s fav brands list.

The products are manufactured in Sri Lanka. Most of its fabrics are knitted and organically dyed in Melbourne.

Unfortunately, we did not find a lot of information regarding the factories located in Asia, hence the lower rating.

However, we appreciate the brand’s transparency regarding its errors in the past with its hooks and eyes, which were not entirely botanically sourced at first.

Materials & Packaging

The eco-lingerie brand has put zero waste principles at the core of its business model.

After a rough start, the owner officially announced that as of 2020, all underwear and bras are 100% compost-friendly, including the hooks and eyes made of 100% cotton.

  • Most briefs are made of premium organic cotton sourced in Turkey, while it is knitted and GOTs dyed in Australia.
  • The sewing thread is Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified: it is manufactured from 100% cellulosic material.
  •  The bras’ elastic is made from natural tree rubber knitted into organic cotton.
  • The hooks and eyes are also made of 100% organic cotton.

As for the price range, you can expect bras at 45 AUD up to 99 AUD for the brand’s iconic UK Liberty Fabric.

When it comes to its packaging policy, it is in line with the all-compostable logic for the boxes. Including the labels! Each product is wrapped in recyclable tissue paper.

Why This Brand

If you have not tried underwire bras before, now is an excellent time to start. These are very comfortable, and available in 27 sizes!

As mentioned above, we commend this ethical underwear for its innovative, spandex-free structure that allows you to safely compost them in your backyard or in your worm bin.

Very Good Bra Canva
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So Which Underwear Brands Have It Right: Organic Cotton Or Bamboo?

According to experts, recycled cotton is currently the most sustainable material for your garments (2). Even more than GOTS certified organic cotton! Organic hemp and organic linen come right after.

Then comes the innovative fabrics that we love at Puratium: Tencel, Pinatex, to name a few.

What about bamboo, then? In a nutshell, bamboo is considered an eco-crop, as explained above under Boody’s section, but is far from being at the top of the list.

As such, bamboo, just as for wool and leather, brings more complex issues. Because of the way it is conventionally grown, make sure to verify the below before calling bamboo a miracle fair trade example:

  • Most Bamboo crops are crown in China: make sure the factories are certified according to internal standards such as OCIA / IFOAM.
  • Creating the fabric (including the bamboo viscose) often comes with the use of harmful chemicals. The brand needs to ensure this is not the case, thanks to certifications such as Oeko-Tex 100.

If you’re interested in understanding the bigger picture and how all this fits within the greenwashing pitfalls, we recommend the full read here.

What About Spandex - A Synthetic Material - In These Pieces Of Ethical Underwear?

The last concern we faced while writing this review on sustainable underwear was spandex (called Elastane in Europe).

Most brands described above use about 5 to 10% of this material for good stretch and comfort.

It is made from either a polyester or nylon base, requiring intense energy, water, and chemicals for production.

So why use it?

Well, it seems like there is not exactly an ideal alternative yet. Hence the search for better options, like Organic Basics: they intend to incorporate recycled elastane instead.

So did Under Protection for some of its products.

The Very Good Bra is another inspiring example and one of the only zero waste alternatives we have found so far.

Thus, the all-compostable underwear brand decided to incorporate elastic made from natural tree rubber knitted into organic cotton.

All in all, we can say that the ethical underwear described in this review are of better quality, are more sustainable, and more transparent than conventionally made underwear.

However, there are still improvements that can be made in the fashion industry in terms of replacing spandex and using recycled cotton as a primary material.

Final Thoughts

For this review, we decided to start with the top underwear brands in terms of rating: according to our analysis and ‘whys,’ and thanks to GoodOnYou’s insights.

If you are ever in doubt whether your underwear is made ethically and sustainably (pun intended!), we encourage you to look in their directory.

You will instantly find out if the brand lacks transparency or not, thanks to its clear rating on People, Planet, and Animals. Supply chains and labor practices are also described.

We hope this article helped you found the right ethically made underwear for your expected price range. And why not as an eco friendly gift?

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us on sustainable fashion and what we can do as customers to choose the next pieces for our wardrobe better.

Resources
  1. https://boodywear.com/pages/benefits-of-bamboo
  2. https://goodonyou.eco/bamboo-fabric-sustainable/
Image by Knickey.com
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