There is no sport that is as attuned to nature as surfing. This is perhaps the reason why Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian, and considered the father of modern surfing, said: “Out of the water, I am nothing.”
The concern for nature is inherent in surfers. In fact, having spread awareness on the impact of the sport to the environment, the industry itself has started cleaning up its act, starting with the use of sustainable materials for surf boards, being more conscious of their carbon impact in the search for the best waves, and in environmental activism. In fact, there are many surfing organizations that have been set up in support of various causes, primarily, environmental protection.
But what better way for a surfer to show their love for the environment but through their choice of surf wear? In this article, I am providing a list of sustainable and ethical surf wear labels for men and women:
For those who are not aware, this well-loved sustainable brand offers surf wear, having been established by a group of mountain climbers and surfers — people who love sports and have an even deeper love for the environment. Patagonia Surf offers surf wear for both men and women. What makes their business proposition unique is that all of their clothing is made from Fair Trade certified facilities. This means that for every type of clothing that you buy, a portion goes to the workers who sew the garments and they decide what to do with the money, whether to use for development projects or as workers’ bonus. Plus, 1% of sales goes to the grassroots groups that work for the preservation of the environment. They are known for pioneering sustainable outdoor apparel and creative advertising that challenges our culture of consumption.
Patagonia Surf offers board shorts for men and women, including swimwear in different colors, sizes, and designs.
Shipping Information: Ships worldwide. Patagonia Surf offers free shipping on US orders that will be delivered up to 10 business days. International shipping rates are provided on this page.
Where to buy: patagonia.com
This is the UK’s first and topmost online surf shop, offering sustainable surf products and gear — from surf boards to bags, flip-flops, wax and all types of gear. In terms of clothing, they offer men’s t-shirts, sweats and hoodies, and even unise beanies. The Green Wave provides items carefully sourced from various brands that meet their environmental and ethical criteria. Its clothing is available in various sizes, from small, to medium, large and extra large. Current offerings of t-shirts and hoodies come from the eco-friendly brand Rapanui using 100% certified organic cotton, made in a wind-powered factory, low carbon, GM-free, and hand-finished in the UK.
Shipping Information: Currently, The Green Wave only serves the UK, Ireland and Europe. This page provides information on delivery service and costs.
Where to buy: thegreenwave.co.uk
An Australian-based brand, Panamuna is an Aboriginal word that means “ocean.” This brand, established in 2011 in a place called Tweed, a town near some of Australia’s popular surf destinations. The brand aims to provide sustainable gear, with the protection of the oceans at its core. Panamuna offers various types of clothing — men’s t-shirts and tanks; women’s t-shirts, bikinis, rash guards, leggings and even surfboard covers. Each of the clothing provided by Panamuna Project uses 100% organic cotton printed with water-based inks and packaged using biodegradable materials. Plus, all t-shirts produced by the brand are made using wind energy and solar power.
Shipping Information: Panamuna Project offers free shipping within Australia for orders over $150. International shipping is also available.
Where to buy: panamunaproject.com.au
Rapanui is not just another UK conscious brand. It is homegrown from the Isle of Wight and started by two brothers, Rob and Mart, from their shed. Rapanui started as an ambitious project in 2008, with the aim to redesign the clothing industry to make it more sustainable. A decade on, the brothers were able to make their dream a reality. Rapanui clothing is made from sustainable fibres like organic cotton that has the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. Plus, the organic cotton is grown on a farm that uses cow poo as fertilizer and rainwater to sustain water requirements. The organic cotton is then processed in a facility that is powered by renewable energy, and SA8000 certified, following stringent standards for social accountability. Rapanui also follows the principles of a circular economy, you can return your old clothing to them in exchange for store credit.
Rapanui offers various types of clothing — t-shirts, jumpers and hoodies, statement t-shirts, surf towels, boxers and more. You can even choose to customize a t-shirt. For each purchase, feel free to scan the code that comes with it to know more about where it came from.
Shipping Information: Rapanui delivers in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Check out this page for shipping details.
Where to buy: rapanuiclothing.com
Established by 11-time World Surf League Champion Kelly Slater and designer John Moore, Outerknown is described as a clothing brand that has “the highest regard for the environment and the people we work with.” As a commitment to sustainability, Outerknown has made available its list of suppliers which have been carefully chosen for their adherence to the values of the brand and the guidelines of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), Bluesign and Fair Trade. What is most interesting about the brand is its use of ECONYL®, a regeneration system that enables the transformation of recycled fishing nets and nylon into jackets and board shorts.
Where to buy: outerknown.com
Remember too that a lot of eco-friendly surf clothing is made from synthetic fabrics such as ECONYL, recycled polyester and nylons and Lycra since these types of fibres give surfwear its durability and allows it to stretch. Since these types of clothing releases microplastics into our oceans, make sure to take steps to reduce their impact. You can learn more here.
This list is in no way exhaustive. If you know of any other surfwear brand at the forefront of sustainable fashion, that you feel deserves a spot, please let us know.
**If you enjoyed, learned from, or felt empowered after reading this piece, we’ve love for you to support us by donating to our Patreon or giving a once-off PayPal payment via the donate button below.**
The curated list is based on the writer’s research and does not fully take into account all ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. All prices are correct at time of publishing. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here.