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A Green Hole for the Swimwear Market?

While many of us shiver through winter weather, designers are beyond their spring-summer collections. They’re selling the remains of their swimsuit and beach apparel stock before the sun warms us up for awhile.

Typically, shopaholics know to buy the best in advance. Yet the “green” clientele faces a supply-below-demand predicament for the swimwear sector. Warm weather collections are abound, but not for jumping in the water. Why is there such scarcity?

Unable to resist my wonder, a recent poll took place for the Best Eco-Creative Swimwear Designer. It was an ordeal to find a true “eco status” creator for water dipping, but thankfully the mission was accomplished. The winner and runner-up will be announced later.

Meanwhile, I found swimwear designers that discontinued their eco collections and turned back to conventional. Others complained about the lack of performance from their chosen fabrics. What was going on? I cried to my industry comrades for help.

Thankfully, Julie Mullin of Fiberactive Organics in North Carolina spoke up. Today she sells certified organic cotton sewing thread. Hand-dyed fabrics, linens, and accessories are other items she offers. Her organic products have been featured on the Today show, in Natural Home, Textile Intelligence, Vogue Sewing, and many more publications.

Julie is an expert who questioned an organic swimwear investment while chlorine pools contaminate fibers much like toxic detergents. However, saline pools and natural hot tubs are on the rise, not to mention our remaining natural clean waters on Earth. The road needs to be cleared.

So for swimwear fabric, Julie first recommended a blend of organic cotton and lycra. Yet natural fabrics, even with lycra or spandex, present a dry problem, pending on the environment. This explains why hemp and lycra blended suits were abandoned by designers. The hard-to-dry issue can be an annoyance to consumers.

Well, that led us both to shift focus on recycled materials. They’re out there, such as Taiwan manufacturer LIBOLON. The company’s RePET® textile is a new recycled yarn manufactured from used PET bottles. They offer a surfing textile collection that resists UV and seawater erosions.

When it comes to thread, Julie says organic cotton is preferred regardless of the fabric used. Not only to respect our land, but also for the longer and staple fiber from cotton that is processed without coatings. It use to be that if you sewed with a natural material, the thread would be a natural fiber as well. However today, enhanced equipment provides the stretch stitch, for example, and there are no longer such matching thread-to-fabric restrictions.

Let’s hope green swimwear designers take note and start filling the market hole! As always, comments are welcome.

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Written by Delia Montgomery

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design."

Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers.

From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases!

My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs.

I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here.

Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style.

In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.


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