Winter is gone and the days are getting longer – it’s time to get moving again, stretch those legs or get that heart pumping! Whether you prefer solo exercise or team sports, being active can give you a great sense of freedom. So it would suck to think that feeling came at the expense of people, animals or the planet.
Maybe you want to challenge yourself physically or perhaps you’re simply after something comfy to wear (I may or may not be writing this article in my activewear). Whatever your motivation, finding sportswear that was manufactured without exploitation shouldn’t be a guessing game, so we’ve put together a list of brands who are doing the right thing.
PACT specialises in activewear made from certified organic cotton. All of their clothing is sweatshop-free, ethically produced, and part of a movement transforming the way apparel is made. Over half of PACT’s product range is Fairtrade certified.
Super Soft Organic Cotton Leggings in Burgundy | Price: $29.99 USD (approx. $39 AUD)
Elle Evans makes her products from post-consumer waste fabrics – discarded remnants that would otherwise go to landfill – or recycled lycra, which uses 80% less energy in production than regular lycra. All of the design and production is carried out by a small team of three, so it’s pretty easy to keep track of the supply chain! Ramp up your workout and your style all at the same time.
Threads 4 Thought
The Threads 4 Thought range includes activewear for a range of activities and weather conditions from stylish shorts to huggable hoodies. Their Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production factory in China recycles and reuses more than 80% of the water used in the production process of their garments. They also manufacture in Kenya and India under certified Fair Trade conditions.
Threads 4 Thought use a range of sustainable materials including Lenzing modal harvested from the limbs of beech trees. This means the trees are never cut down and can go right on doing what trees do. Currently Threads 4 Thought only ships within the United States, however, you can find a range of their products on the Australian site Thread Harvest.
Imogen Shorts in Jet Black | Price: $55 USD (approx. $72 AUD)
A small company based in Wales, Howies makes activewear for running, cycling and mountain biking; as well as practical outdoor wear perfect for camping and hiking. They use 100% renewable electricity and their Global Organic Textile certification ensures a high standard of labour rights in a large portion of their factories.
Tenkay 3/4 Run Leggings | Price: £35 GBP (approx. $57 AUD)
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But… silk’s a luxury item right? Surely you can’t make activewear out of it? Turns out you can. SilkBody has combined silk with merino wool to make a range of clothing ideal for hiking, cycling or snow sports. Silk and wool are both natural products that breath and regulate your temperature. The combination means you’ll stay warm even if you get wet, whilst the breathability is perfect if you’re working up a sweat. Silk is also naturally odour-resistant – a definite plus for a long day of hiking. SilkBody clothing is an investment – the company focuses on classic styles and silhouettes because they intend their clothing to last you for years to come – making it a great antidote to fast fashion.
Cellular Pilot Top | Price: $207.39 AUD
Just be. Apparel
Just be. is a relaxed label featuring a blend of fitness and streetwear. They have a range of leggings, tops, and shorts to help you keep your cool in organic cottony-softness. Most of their collection is made from certified organic cotton, which means a better deal for cotton farmers and the environment.
Performance Bamboo Muscle Tank | Price: $55 AUD
If you prefer your activity to include an element of adventure, then Patagonia’s activewear range is a great place to start. They make clothing for trail running, climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding. Patagonia has strong labour rights and uses recycled, rather than virgin polyester. They also use 100% organic cotton and have stated a commitment to reducing their energy use and emissions.
Seabrook Hoody with 50+ UPF sun protection | Price: $129.95 AUD
Dharma Bums design and manufacture their activewear right here in Australia, which is a plus if you’re looking to source products locally. Their versatile clothing is equally wearable for yoga, the gym or dancing, and they have a range of sports bras for low to high impact activities. With designs ranging from sleek monochrome to fun floral prints, Dharma Bums cater to a range of styles. It’s hard to imagine this activewear sitting neglected in the cupboard – in fact, it just might be the fitness inspiration you need to get out there and get moving.
Need shoes to go with that activewear? Here are 9 ethical sneaker brands you’ll love!
Luva Huva (pronounced Lover Huva) offers comfortable activewear in an elegant feminine style. Their items are handmade from sustainable fabrics like certified organic cotton, bamboo, soy, and line remnants. Luva Huva is a member of the Textile Exchange, which is a global non-profit that works to make the textile industry more sustainable.
Kate Crop Top + Short Set | Price: £74 (approx. $120)
Purusha People use non-toxic water-based inks, low impact dyes, and locally-sourced materials. While their range does include synthetic materials such as nylon, they also use Fair Trade and organic cotton to create comfortable activewear. And you can feel even more comfortable knowing that they ensure their local workers are paid a living wage. Purusha People’s clothing is hand sewn by a seamstress and hand printed and dyed by the founder.
Breathe Tank in Mushroom | Price: $89 USD (approx. $116 AUD)
This last brand might be a surprise.
Born on the track and fields of Alabama in 1902, Russell Athletic now boasts a range of sportswear and lifestyle clothing. This is the type of activewear that you can wear running cross country or running around town. Comfortable, with its original college aesthetic, it’s activewear to be active or not so active in.
Their parent company – Fruit of the Loom – is a signatory of the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord. The accord is an agreement between brands to make the Bangladesh garment industry a safe and healthy workplace. They’ve also pledged to not knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan. Russell Athletic has strong labour policies and does not use animal products in their clothing range. However, they lack robust policies on climate impact and use of hazardous chemicals. We’d love to see more transparency and action from them in these areas.
Digital Sleeveless Hoodie in Lucy Marle | Price: $69.99 AUD
Which ethical brands do you love to get active in? Tell us in the comments below!
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Emma lives and works on the Mornington Peninsula and never did outgrow her love of horses, writing stories, and playing outside.
Editor’s Note: Good On You did not receive any compensation for recommending these brands.