If you’re someone who takes their workouts seriously, then you’re probably already familiar with many sportswear brands who have invested time and energy into crafting workout gear using technical fabrics. And there are incredible advantages to these types of materials for the regular gym-goer. They can be more comfortable, more durable, quicker drying, and can even have space-age qualities like combating body odour.
The problem is many of these are made from polyester or nylon – fabrics that not only refuse to biodegrade but also tend to have a chemical-heavy, planet polluting manufacturing process.
The use of these fabrics may not be something we can change overnight, however, there is a new generation of companies looking to curb our use of them, whether that’s through researching new man-made materials based on sustainable, natural fibres or by reducing the amount of virgin plastic in their new products.
Sadly, these companies are still the exception to the norm, but there are now enough out there that you can build a (nearly complete) workout kit that’ll not only help to keep your body that little bit healthier, but also our planet. Here we highlight the sustainable sportswear brands you should look into and our favourite pieces from each.
The Best Brands For Sustainable Workout Gear
The Pangaia: Sustainable Tracksuit
When it comes to environmentally-friendly sportswear, The Pangaia does more than most companies to think about the entire production chain. Take this blue tracksuit – perfect for post-session recovery. Not only is it crafted from a mix of organic and recycled cotton, but the dye used is botanically derived (the blue is made from natural colour extracted from the Indigofera Tinctoria plant).
The brand is so proud of this that they print it as a paragraph of text on their sweats – that’s the kind of logomania we can get behind. On top of that, every order is shipped in plant-based packaging that will fully break down in a compost facility in 24 weeks.
Adidas: Sustainable Running Trainers
One of the world’s largest sportswear companies, Adidas, is leading the sustainable sportswear charge with its Primeblue and Primegreen lines.
The Primegreen range is all made from recycled materials, while the Primeblue collection is crafted from harvested and repurposed plastic intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the oceans.
While you could create a complete gym kit from both collections, we suggest you look into the brand’s Primeblue Ultraboost 21s too, which bring sustainability (and added lightness) to one of the brand’s sleekest silhouettes.
Sundried: Sustainable Shorts
Triathlete and proud father, Daniel Puddick founded Sundried not just to make technical workout-wear that could withstand the rigours of intense exercise, but also to help make a better world for his children. As such, sustainability is at the heart of what this new British brand does, and it’s Eco Core Furgler 2.0 shorts (with built-in compression liner) are a prime example.
The material is not only made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, but it’s also sweat-wicking, multi-way-stretching, and, according to the brand, dries 200 times faster than cotton. As such they are also just as suited to being on land in the gym as being in the water. Quite possibly, the most triathlon-appropriate pair of shorts we’ve ever seen.
Patagonia: Sustainable T-Shirts
When it comes to workout shirts, people tend to fall into two preference categories. There are those who like something form-fitting and sturdy, and those who prefer something a little softer and looser. When it comes to the latter, Patagonia makes for an excellent option.
The outerwear brand’s Capilene T-shirts are soft knits made from fabric that’s infused with the sort of features you’d usually only find on advanced technical garments, like odour control and temperature control. Each piece is certified Fair Trade and is made from 50 to 100 percent recycled polyester. Plus they’re available in some seriously cool colours, such as eye-popping mango and versatile olive green.
CDLP: Sustainable Men’s Underwear
Every outfit needs a good base layer. For underwear that’s as stylish and supportive as it is sustainable, take a look at Swedish underwear label CDLP. Up until this point we’ve mostly been talking about recycled polyester or plastic, but the underwear at CDLP is made from lyocell, an eco-friendly wood pulp that’s been refined into a silky-soft and durable fabric.
Whether you choose trunks or briefs, the construction of all their items has been specifically designed to be tag-free, so they won’t rub during your workout.
CDLP boxer brief, £29.
Finisterre: Sustainable Waterproof Jacket
Whether you’re headed to the park for a run or simply braving the rain to get to the gym at the end of your street, a jacket is often a necessary addition to your gym armoury – even if you don’t end up actually wearing it to work out in. It’s hard to find one better than ‘The Rainbird’ from outdoorsy British label Finisterre.
Made from 100 percent recycled polyester, it features a waterproof zip and taped seams throughout as well as a little stretch and a microporous membrane, meaning you won’t overheat if you’re working up a sweat in it.
Massive in the US, the Everlane train is still making its way on UK shores, a mission that is sure to be expedited by increasing calls for transparency in the fashion industry.
Everlane has led them calls in the States, and transparency is at the heart of how they do business, with costing structures on their product pages to show you how much every step of a garment’s journey costs to full-blown profiles on the factories they work with. Plus its use of recycled materials like the polyester and nylon in these leggings show off a substantial sustainable cred to boot.
Everlane leggings, £54.
Iron Roots: Sustainable Hoodie
When Dutch sustainable sportswear brand Iron Roots was founded in 2017, it’s mission was clear: to lead the battle against the unnecessary and near-ubiquitous use of plastic within the sportswear industry. Instead, the brand focuses on plant-based materials like hemp, eucalyptus, and beechwood.
This super-cushy hoodie from the brand is a hemp and organic cotton blend for example. And while the former material has endured a bad rep thanks to it’s 70s hippy connotations (scratchy, right?), it’s one of the most comfortable (when mixed with cotton) and useful materials around. That’ll be thanks to its natural antibacterial properties, which come in particularly handy when you’ve sweated up a storm in spin.
Iron Roots hoodie, €79.99.