Sustainable fashion

Sustainable gym clothes: the case for conscious workout gear

Activewear and athleisure are the giants of UK fashion. What’s more, despite the recent slowdown in retail spending, sales of exercise clothing remain strong. Large brands continue to register record-breaking profits, thanks to the demand for sportswear. But these brands are not the most eco-friendly. So, let’s explore some more sustainable options for gym clothes. 

sustainable gym clothes athleisure

Fast fashion and your workout clothes: the problem

As you know, wearing workout clothes outside of the gym has been a trend for years.

And it’s not hard to see why these clothes are popular. Sportswear like leggings, crop tops, and trainers are comfy and stylish. Because of this, co-ord sets, jumpsuits, and sliders have found their way into catwalks and street fashion. The activewear aesthetic is here to stay.

With the pandemic, we found ourselves exercising (and working) from our homes. Sportswear was our lockdown uniform. Post-pandemic, the “new normal” for many people in the UK includes hybrid working and home workouts. This has increased the demand for athleisure.

But are these clothes sustainable? Too often, the answer is no. 

athleisure trend

Why do we need sustainable gym clothes?

Sadly, fast fashion predominates in our society. And in case you didn’t know, it’s not environmentally friendly or sustainable.

The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions. And, it’s a huge contributor to water pollution. The industry produces tonnes of microplastics. Most materials used in fast fashion garments are not eco-friendly. What’s more, with our throwaway culture, they have a hugely detrimental effect on our planet. 

Finally, let’s not forget the social impact of fast fashion. While it’s estimated that one in six work in the garment industry worldwide, 85% are young women in developing nations. Tragically, often they work ten to sixteen hours per day with few employment rights.

fast fashion poverty

So if you check labels in leggings and other gym clothes on the high street, it’s likely you will find their eco credentials lacking.

Are there more sustainable sports clothes I can buy?

Happily, more sustainable gym clothes do exist.

An increasing number of brands are carbon neutral. And, they use ethical materials and manufacturing processes.

With a few changes, you can make conscious choices that are better for the planet. Sometimes, that means not buying workout gear, or buying it less frequently.

Often, it’s simply about “buying better”.

sustainable gym clothes buy less buy better

But if you’re confused, don’t worry. Below, we break down our recommendations for more sustainable sportswear and gym clothes.

Choose ethical brands when you need new gym clothes

First up, we have to mention that ethical fashion is our mission at Bagmaya.

For all of us, slow fashion, ethical yoga kits, and sustainable gym wear are part of how we can build a better society and protect our environment. When it comes to eco-conscious sportswear, some larger brands prioritise sustainability. Many companies have pledged to be carbon neutral or to become B Corps, which is great. But small brands offer sustainable gym clothes, too. Some also sell equipment, since mainstream gym accessories like mats tend to use harmful PVC and plastics.

Choosing to buy from small, sustainable retailers can help disrupt the multinational market leaders. This is crucial.

So the next time you need a new pair of leggings or trainers, you should consider buying from small slow fashion brands.

Refine your existing workout wardrobe

Second, it’s important to consider how many gym clothes you really need.

In our Instagram culture, we face pressure to buy sportswear on an ongoing basis. Social media brims with adverts for picture-perfect gym outfits, with colour-coordinated leggings, tees, bras, trainers, and so on.

Some sports brands even offer subscription models, sending you a new selection of gym wear each month for an ongoing fee (which can be as much as your gym membership). And with the UK cost of living crisis, this is less desirable with each passing day.

Refining your workout wardrobe leaves you with sustainable gym clothes that stand the test of time and do not harm the planet. For example, you can invest in big ticket items like eco-friendly trainers.

Or, you might opt for hybrid garments like jumpsuits which replace the need for buying hoodies and tracksuit bottoms.

Try buying nothing for a while

We know that this will be hard for some.

But when it comes to gym clothes, committing to buying nothing for a while makes sense.

If you think about it, sports clothes should be hardwearing to support your workouts and exercise goals. Technically, if you have a few staples in your wardrobe, you shouldn’t need anything new.

Leggings may be the garment of choice for gym bunnies and yoginis, but loose clothing works just as well.

loose yoga clothes

And if Angelina Jolie can go to the airport in pyjamas, perhaps we can all re-assess our fashion choices!

Sustainable gym clothes are better for everyone

Fast fashion causes so many problems globally. With our environmental future uncertain, we need to act and live more sustainably.

It’s worth stating that exercise is not primarily about fashion. Rather, it’s about the practical health benefits of moving our bodies. If you practise yoga, which is a spiritual practice as well as physical, you will know that all this focus on external appearance is a contradiction.

If you are willing to commit to a more eco-conscious workout wardrobe today, please click below to share this article with your network.

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