It was 63 years ago today that the bikini was first unveiled at a fashion show. At the time, the skimpy swim suit was so scandalous that not a single model agreed to wear it down the catwalk–and in the end, designers had to enlist the help of a professional stripper, Micheline Bernardini, to debut their two-piece creation. But bikinis have evolved from shocking to beach friendly to…Earth friendly. The latest eco-friendly collections are made of everything from bamboo and soy to recycled fish nets. Gimmicky? You bet! But it’s a bikini, after all–and bikinis have always been about grabbing attention.
1. Deux FM: Soy and Recycled Linen
How it’s Green: Sure, you eat and drink soy products, but now you can also wear them to the beach. The Lulu String Bikini is made of a mixture of soy, recycled linen and organic cotton, and comes with an “eco-friendly pouch” for storage (what makes the pouch eco-friendly is unclear). Other swim suits in the collection are made of recycled silk and vintage fabrics.
2. Eco-Panda: Recycled Fish Nets
How it’s green: Discarded fish nets are melted down and spun into recycled nylon for these colorful swimsuits, which creators claim use “27 % less petroleum resources and create 28% less greenhouse gases” than those made of regular nylon. The linings are created with recycled polyester and the price tags, which are made of organic cotton, double as bracelets.
3. Loyale: 100% Organic Cotton
How it’s green: Both of Loyale’s bikinis are made using 100% organic cotton and low-impact dyes. The teal Barstow Bikini, originally part of the Spring ’07 collection, was resurrected this year at the request of Vogue (Gisele wears it in the June 2009 issue). The swim suit is made locally in New York City, and is one of the top selling pieces of this season’s collection. “You don’t have to sacrifice style to make a difference,” says Loyale founder Jenny Hwa.
Price: $84 (Hermosa), $120 (Barstow)
4. Anna Cohen: Factory Surplus Fabric
How it’s green: This tiny teal bikini is made from scraps of fabric left over from Olympic speed skating uniforms. Designer Anna Cohen says her mission is to “support environmental and social justice through creating cutting edge design” — and sometimes that means literally cutting designs and reimagining them.
5. Aaron Chang: Recycled Plastic Bottles
How it’s Green: Post consumer plastic, including soda bottles, are recycled into a pure polyester material that Aaron Chang then refashions into bikinis (like the one above, the Secret Garden Bikini), board shorts and other swimwear. According to the company, the process diverts and reduces waste in landfills “without spilling an unnecessary drop of oil.”
6. Kelly B: Bamboo-kinis
How it’s green: This company has been making bikinis with organic cotton since the line launched in 2007. But this year, it’s introduced a new element: Bamboo. All of this season’s swim suits (there are three in total) are made from 65% bamboo, 27% organic cotton and 8% spandex.