Best Ethical Sportswear Brands in Europe in 2021

There's a lot to consider when choosing sportswear. The quality, price, practicality, and style of clothing are what gives it a place in your wardrobe. However, as the world focuses more on how it treats the environment and each other, another factor starts to top the list.

Ethical and sustainable sportswear aims to minimise the impact its production has on the planet and ensure fair and safe treatment of all those involved in manufacturing and supply. The term 'ethical' covers a range of different societal issues. For the fashion industry, it mainly concerns the environmental impact of clothing creation and social justice for the workers involved.

Care for your environment

Sportswear can only be truly sustainable if it meets the high standards of quality and practicality required for the activity it's bought for. Lower quality activewear, or clothing that just doesn't do the job, results in reduced longevity and more frequent replacements, nullifying any efforts to produce it sustainably and ethically.

As a consumer looking to do your bit, it's helpful to know which brands promise a more ethical and sustainable approach to their activewear. All the sustainable activewear brands below have a transparent and genuine commitment to producing sustainable fashion across various sports and activities. 

Presca

At Presca, our mission is to pioneer the performance sportswear industry to positively impact our society and planet, inspiring endurance athletes to make the most environmentally and socially conscious clothing choices.

Our business started life with the firmest of foundations. We wanted to be a company that treats people and nature with fairness and respect.

Presca high-performance sportswear uses sustainable materials and ethical supply chains to let our customers be confident they're purchasing ethically. Our team comprises of experienced athletes and committed environmentalists reflecting our genuine mission to produce ethical products that are fit-for-purpose.

All Presca products are made from recycled waste like fishing nets and plastic bottles, and by 2022 all new garment ranges will be 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. We use innovative technology to break down end-of-life clothing to its building blocks, rebuild it into new yarns, fabrics, and ultimately brand-new clothing. At the same time, all our sportswear is made with the athlete in mind. We have a quality over quantity mindset, meaning you invest in kit that lets you go further and for longer, breaking the cycle of quick purchase and discard that dominates the fashion industry.

Presca Recycling process - Forever Tees

We have chosen to manufacture our sportswear in the UK and Europe, keeping our supply chains short to reduce emissions. We also choose to work with organisations across our supply chain that share our focus on sustainability, workers-rights, and ethics. All of our European manufacturing partners must sign the Presca Code of Conduct which outlines our values. This way, we can be confident Fair Trade standards are always met.

When browsing our range of cycling, running, and triathlon clothing, you can see the real impact your purchase has on the planet. For example, our Women's Forever Running Tee saves 2.6 days of drinking water, avoids 3.5 km of driving emissions, and recycles 11.6 PET bottles.

Runner - Pomegranate Female Forever running Tee

Presca sportswear should last a lifetime, but sometimes accidents happen. That's why we encourage all our customers to send their clothing back to us when they're finished with it. We will turn it into another fantastic garment.

To explore our full range of sustainable sportswear, visit our online shop

Presca Sustainable Cycling Jersey, Bib Shorts and Running Shirt in use

Vaude

Vaude offer a range of outdoor activity gear for men, women, and children. Including hiking, mountain biking, camping, and ski-touring, they have the kit to suit every eco-conscious explorer. Vaude pride themselves on producing environmentally and fair products, showing their acknowledgement of ethical sportswear from the lens of both people and planet.

Boasting a full carbon-neutral headquarters in Germany, Vaude are driven by climate protection and are on a journey to make all products fulfil these standards. By putting product longevity at the heart of their design process, all Vaude activewear is durable and repairable.

Vaude products are made from a range of eco friendly materials such as certified organic cotton, Merino wool, recycled materials, wood fibre, and even recycled coffee grounds.

Publishing an annual sustainability report, customers can keep up to date on Vaude's progress in climate protection, fair work, and corporate responsibility. 

Houdini

Houdini define themselves as a progressive outdoor company based in Stockholm. Driven by their passion for nature, Houdini promises to keep sustainability at the heart of everything they do.

Like Presca, they aim for circularity of their products, which involves closing the life cycle loop of a garment, obtaining it from recycled materials and ensuring it has a solution at end of life. By 2022, Houdini aim to make their entire offering from recycled, renewable, and naturally biodegradable or recyclable fibres. By 2030, they want to make their entire ecosystem circular.

For eco-conscious adventurers looking to brave the cold with the help of base layers, mid-layers, jackets, fleeces, and other accessories, Houdini has an extensive range to help. 

Ecoalf

Ecoalf's clothing range comprises of more generic workout clothing for men, women, and children. As their name suggests, their business aims to be eco friendly with a commitment to the planet, the environment, and people.

Ecoalf is looking to help fight against climate change by producing clothing that uses as little resources as possible. Their slogan "There Is No Planet B" even appears on a range of t-shirts available on their website. The business commits to being carbon neutral by 2030 and places a considerable focus on upcycling the oceans.

All Ecoalf partners must agree to and embody their Sustainable Commitment to minimise social risks and ensure human rights are respected across the supply chain. As a certified B Corporation company, they are legally required to meet certain standards regarding their impact on workers, customers, suppliers, society, and the environment.

With a vast range of workout clothes and gym wear including jackets, sweaters, t-shirts, dresses, and even Yoga clothes, Ecoalf designs clothes for comfort and those looking for an eco friendly option. 

Veja

The Veja collection of footwear includes casual trainers, running shoes, and 'Vegan shoes'. Their Vegan shoes are made from ecological and sustainable materials. For example, resin from the corn waste industry, wild rubber from the Amazonian forest, organic cotton, and recycled polyester.

As a business, Veja is very transparent about its production chain. Their transparency page details how much they pay their organic cotton producers in Brazil and Peru and how much they pay to have them made in Brazil. They even provide the contracts and quotes for these services for download on their website. All Veja supply partners must adhere to their code of conduct. In this way, Veja customers can be confident that their products align with the Fair Trade agreement and are ethically sound. 

Vivo Barefoot

Vivo Barefoot are an activewear brand known for their minimalist footwear that is wide, thin, and flexible, promoting the foot's natural strength and movement. By creating footwear that is as close to being barefoot as possible, they allow their customers to reconnect with nature.

Away from their progressive design, the Vivo Barefoot business is also rooted in sustainability with a range made from natural, biosynthetic, and recycled materials. From 2020, their footwear will also have an end-of-life solution to help achieve circularity like other ethical activewear brands.

As a B Corporation Certified business, Vivo Barefoot meets the highest social and environmental performance standards and ensures transparency and accountability.

With this knowledge, you can purchase athletic footwear that aligns with your ethics.

As ethical activewear brands must navigate a complex ecosystem of processes, chains, and partners, they need to be transparent in their research and efforts end to end. Sustainable brands should outline many details about their garments such as the materials used to make them, production methods, the resulting carbon footprint, working conditions of every worker, and any issues not yet tackled in their mission.

Here at Presca, we're leading the pack when it comes to sustainable activewear. To find out more about how we're doing this, visit our website and read how our sportswear goes the extra mile so that you can too.