The 12 Best Sustainable Activewear Brands of 2023

Tentree topped our list of eco-friendly brands that provide superb apparel.

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The 12 Best Sustainable Activewear Brands of 2022

Houdini Sportswear / Everlane / Allbirds

Looking to make your closet a little more sustainable? A good place to start is with your activewear, as these products get washed frequently and are often made with synthetic materials, factors that have environmental consequences. To help get a better grasp of what it means to be a sustainable clothing brand and what to look for when shopping, we spoke to two experts: Lea d'Auriol, Founder & Executive Director of Oceanic Global, and Krystal Persaud, Founder & CEO of Grouphug Solar and Wildgrid Solar.

If you’ve felt a bit dizzied by buzzwords, data sets, or greenwashing paranoia while shopping for sustainable activewear, you’re not alone. Both d’Auriol and Persaud admit that when it comes to fashion, sustainability is a complicated term that covers several areas. “It encompasses fair and ethical treatment and pay of garment workers, material composition, sourcing, end of life, carbon emissions and other pollution from manufacturing and transportation, respect for culture and tradition, inclusivity, and more,” says d’Auriol. 

Since this can all get overwhelming, we took Persaud’s lead and weighed brands against four main attributes: fair labor practices and wages, use of environmentally friendly materials, support of a closed-loop lifecycle (“i.e. minimal waste is generated and the afterlife is accounted for. It can be repaired, recycled, or can be worn forever.”), and the utilization of locally-sourced production and materials. Our favorite overall sustainable activewear brand, Tentree, leads the pack thanks to a high level of transparency on multiple fronts and its comfortable, performance-ready garments you can count on to last.

From underwear to outerwear, here are the best sustainable activewear brands:

Best Overall

Tentree

InMotion 7/8 Pocket Legging

Tentree

Why We Love It: It leads in transparency and follows-up on promises with traceable progress. 

What to Consider: The collection is nearly all solid neutral colors.

Tentree is a carbon-neutral company that has made its mission its literal name: For every item of clothing purchased, Tentree plants ten trees. The brand's goal is to plant one billion trees by 2030. Curious customers can view and track the progress of the company’s climate action plan, and transparency goes even further with a breakdown of every material used, from water-saving, plant-based Tencel to  polyester recycled from landfill plastic. We’re naming it the best overall sustainable activewear brand because, from underwear and sports bras to joggers and jackets, much of its collection can function as activewear (though it’s comfortable enough to be on loungewear duty). They also offer “climate-plus” subscription packages for families, travelers, events, and more, giving consumers the opportunity to verifiably plant trees to offset their carbon footprints—no apparel purchase necessary. 

Currently, Tentree’s collection, including its activewear, is full of solid, mostly muted neutral colors in styles for men, women, and children (and they’ve even got accessories and housewares, too). While there’s a lot to love from this sustainable brand, we’re particularly into its InMotion ⅞ Pocket Leggings, which are made from 79 percent recycled polyester and 21 percent Elastane for extra stretch, comfort, and durability. The buttery soft leggings have two side pockets as well as two hidden pockets in the waistband. Plus, they’re tightly woven to prevent pet hair from clinging to them. We do wish there was a bit more color creativity and combinations in the selection, though understated, elegant hues like agave green, lilac chalk, and fig make versatile wardrobe pieces. 

Price at time of publish: $34

Return policy: Unworn, unwashed items within 30 days of purchase. 

Why We Love It: You can trade-in your used Cotopaxi clothes for gift-card credit. 

What to Consider: Specifics around materials are often vague.

Through its "gear for good" mission, Cotopaxi donates 1 percent of its earnings to nonprofits focused on serving communities experiencing poverty. Cotopaxi is also B-corp-certified and  boasts a climate-neutral status. Something super cool that this brand lets you do? You can swap your old Cotopaxi items for store credit. We’re big fans of the lightweight, ultra-packable Teca Cálido Vest that comes in a hooded version for women and non-hooded for men. It’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester fabrics, inside and out. The reversible design is a two-for-one dose of color-blocking, core-warming cozy. While Cotopaxi states it uses responsible materials, we wish they were a bit more detailed on the specifics. 

Price at time of publish: $120

Return policy: Unwashed, still-tagged items are eligible for returns or exchanges within 60 days of purchase. 

Best Exercise Dresses

Quince

green slip dress

Quince

Why We Love It: It's a sports dress that easily dupes as a casual summer dress. 

What to Consider: The depth of its sustainability is unclear.

Quince is tackling sustainability by focusing on the use of eco-friendly fabrics and biodegradable packaging. The company has given itself until 2023 to completely eliminate use of first-time plastics in favor of fully-compostable packing materials. Currently, it uses non-synthetic materials such as cashmere, wool, and organic cotton; 100 percent recycled polyester; and eco-friendly dyes—though it makes the caveat that it’s only “when possible.” On the production end, Quince says they are dedicated to using factories that offer fair wages, safe working conditions, and sustainable practices. Their Ultra-soft Performance Dress is made from a recycled polyester and spandex blend and features hidden built-in shorts with pockets. It’s lightweight, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, making it great for sports courts or supermarkets. 

Price at time of publish: $45

Return policy: Returns and exchanges up to 365 days after purchase for unworn, unwashed, still-tagged items. 

Best Base Layers

Patagonia

Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Merino Shirt

Patagonia

Why We Love It: Patagonia has been a leader in the sustainable fashion space for decades. 

What to Consider: Not all products are eligible for lifetime repairs.

Patagonia made headlines in 2022 when its founder announced he was giving away the company to a trust focused on fighting climate change. This certified B-corp outdoor outfitter is also a member of One Percent for the Planet, a group of businesses that give 1 percent of their profits to environmental organizations. Its list of sustainable practices is long and includes activism, donation, generous return and repair policies, and a trade-in program where used Patagonia items are resold via a secondhand store. Clothing from this brand is made to last a lifetime—or longer—which is why we love them for base layers like the Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Merino shirt for women and men. This Fair Trade-sewn long sleeve tech top is made from 65 percent Responsible Wool Standard Merino wool and 35 percent recyclable polyester. It’s perfect for layering (and taking that base layer beating) and helps regulate your body temp in cold and warm weather. Note that Patagonia’s repair policy doesn’t apply to their Merino wool items. 

Price at time of publish: $79

Return policy: Allowed any time after purchase for new and sale items. Returns made after one year of purchase will be issued as store credit. 

Best Maternity

Girlfriend Collective

Black Seamless Maternity Legging

Girlfriend Collective

Why We Love It: Inclusive sizing is the norm. 

What to Consider: Items made from recycled synthetic plastics will shed microfibers.

Girlfriend Collective uses post-consumer recycled plastic to make its wide range of sustainable clothing. You can rest easy knowing your clothes are made via ethical manufacturing in factories SAI-certified for labor conditions and wages. We love the inclusive sizing that ranges from XXS to 6XL and that it also provides hard-to-find maternity options. Persaud says she bought Girlfriend Collective’s bluesign-certified Seamless Maternity Leggings and bras when she was pregnant and practically lived in them. These stretchy, ultra-comfortable leggings have a foldable 15.5-inch rise and are made from BPA-free recycled nylon sourced from repurposed fishing nets and 17 percent spandex. They’re also OEKO-TEX-certified free of a long list of potentially harmful substances (microfiber shedding not included). We love that the material is breathable, moisture-wicking, has UPF 50 sun protection, and feels like a second skin. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Return policy: Unwashed, unworn items with the tags still on can be returned up to 30 days after the shipping date. 

Best Swimsuits

Summersalt

Summersalt

Summersalt

Why We Love It: It's got inclusive options flaunting styles that are simple but eye-catching and flatter multiple body sizes and shapes. 

What to Consider: Recycled synthetics are prone to microfiber shedding.

Summersalt sells a range of clothing and outerwear, but this company is best known for its swimsuits. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’re probably familiar with its breakout hit, The Sidestroke, a triple color-blocked one-piece that flatters nearly all body shapes. What you probably didn’t know is that this brand is under the sustainable umbrella. While many of its clothing is made from Tencel, a sustainable plant-based fiber, its swimsuits are made from recycled, post-consumer materials and waste such as nylon fishing nets pulled out of the ocean. Repurposed plastics such as nylon are best used for swimwear, wetsuits, or other items that are normally made from synthetic materials. “Synthetics like nylon are made from polyester,” Lea d'Auriol explains, “and when washed, will shed microfibers that will enter our waterways and be infinitely more difficult to collect.” Buying swimwear made from recycled plastics helps prevent the creation of new synthetics. 

Price at time of publish: $67

Return policy: Exchanges and returns for store credit are free and must be completed within 30 days from date of delivery. Returns for refunds have a return fee and must be made within 21 days of delivery. (U.S. only). 

Best Swim Trunks

Everlane

The ReNew Swim Short

Everlane

Why We Love It: It has goals far into the future and is honest about its progress in reaching them. 

What to Consider: Its sustainability goals aren’t as hardcore as other brands on the list.

Everlane has committed to cutting its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and having net-zero emissions by 2050. It's also pledged to eliminate all virgin plastics, switch to 100 percent organic cotton, and only partner with factories that have fair labor practices and pay. While it’s not as big of a mission as other companies on this list, Everlane is one of the most popular brands we’re featuring, and these goals will have a big impact. The company also publishes a yearly impact report and is transparent about the progress it's making toward its goals (even if they aren’t met). As a brand that prides itself on long-lasting basics, we appreciate The ReNew Swim Short, made from recycled plastic bottles (so yes, be aware of microfiber shedding) and dyed with a bluesign-certified dye that is safer for the environment and the factory workers dyeing the trunks. 

Price at time of publish: $65

Return policy: Unworn, unwashed, still-tagged items can be returned via Happy Returns or in-person at any Everlane store within 30 days. Mailed returns will cost the price of shipping (waived for returns seeking store credit).

Best for Kids

Pact

Short Sleeve Graphic Bodysuit

Pact

Why We Love It: It’s a seriously sustainable brand with affordable prices. 

What to Consider: It’s hard not to want to stock up.  

Pact charges straight out of the gate by stating it doesn’t just claim to be sustainable, it's certifiably sustainable. Also carbon-neutral, Pact works with Fair Trade-certified factories that provide better working conditions and support to workers. Their use of natural-fiber materials grown on organic farms contribute to lower water and energy usage. To top it off, shipments are packaged with recyclable paper instead of single-use plastics. Since it’s never too early to start sustainable practices, we are swooning over Pact’s kids collection, which has a cute and colorful range of items for babies and children up to 12 years old. Their adorable Short Sleeve Graphic Bodysuit is made from 100 percent organic cotton, comes in nine prints, and fits newborns up to 12 months. Keep in mind that Pact’s affordable pricing makes it tempting to buy a ton of pieces, which kind of defeats the purpose of sustainable shopping. 

Price at time of publish: $6

Return policy: Free returns for 60 days for unwashed, unworn, still-tagged items in original packaging.

Best Shoes

Allbirds

Men's Wool Dasher Mizzles

Allbirds

Why We Love It: Its creative use of natural materials is industry-leading.  

What to Consider: The designs are simple color-wise.

Allbirds cut to the chase when it comes to its climate and sustainability goals. By 2025, it wants its carbon footprint down by 50 percent; by 2030, it wants it close to zero. It understands that sustained small margins can make big long-term payoffs. These are big words for a shoe company, but so far it's on track. Allbirds uses all-natural materials made from plants and wool—including transforming sustainable sugarcane into foam shoe soles. Laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, and shoe eyelets are made from bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane, made by microorganisms that eat plant sugars (we’re not quite sure how that works, either). It even makes water-repelling running shoes like the Wool Dasher Mizzles for women and men, made from Merino wool, which we find to be a handy all-weather addition to your activewear capsule.

Price at time of publish: $145

Return policy: No questions asked for returns within 30 days of purchase as long as items are unworn with tags intact (underwear must be in original, sealed packaging). 

Best Sweatshirts

Zero Waste Daniel

Mixed print 'all-over reroll' sweatshirt

Zero Waste Daniel

Why We Love It: Its bold, vibrant designs are unique in the activewear space.

What to Consider: Statement-makers will find the most to love in its collection.

Zero Waste Daniel works out of NYC and creates patchwork pieces from local Garment District scraps that would otherwise be clogging landfills. Persaud calls the brand’s clothing “casual wear, but also statement pieces” and says she bought a David Bowie mosaic shirt that quickly became one of her favorites. In addition to saving fabric from an early grave via garments, Zero Waste Daniel also takes care to use recycled and recyclable materials in the studio, for packaging, and in shipments. We love the gender-neutral approach and find particular glee in the mixed print “all-over reroll” sweatshirt, a loud and classy, cutting-edge take on your average sweatshirt. It stitches together the coziness of a patchwork quilt and the personality of a partier, making you stand out during a warmup or at work. 

Price at time of publish: $145

Return policy: Unwashed, unworn, and still-tagged items can be submitted for return approval within 14 days of the delivery date. 

Best Bras

MATE the Label

5
Three women in white tee shirts

Mate the Label

Why We Love It: Mate is a woman-owned, woman-run company with hyper-local production and hyper accountability. 

What to Consider: They only make clothes for women. 

Mate the Label seems to check a lot of boxes when it comes to its sustainability practices. It’s considered its products from seed through the entire supply chain. Mate the Label products are meant to have a long life, classic style, and clean history. This L.A.-based clothing company works with organic materials that are often dyed, stitched, and knit within a 15-mile radius of company headquarters. It’s also impressively whittled down its use of plastic and does not use nylon, polyester, or polyamide in products (very notable for an activewear brand). As a woman-owned, woman-run, and woman-empowering company, we’re not surprised it makes a damn comfy yet still supportive bralette. The Organic Comfort Scoop Bralette is available in size XS to 3XL and is made from 92 percent organic cotton. We love Mate, but would love to see them expand to include a men’s section, or at least have more gender-neutral designs. 

Price at time of publish: $29

Return policy: Full refunds available (minus shipping) for new condition items within 30 days of purchase.

Best Jackets

Houdini Sportswear

W's BFF Jacket

Houdini Sportswear

Why We Love It: It’s a woman-owned company with moonshot goals and impressive accomplishments.  

What to Consider: Sizing could be more inclusive. 

Houdini Sportswear doesn’t just have a mission, it has a manifesto—and it goes hard. The brand setup its own secondhand store online for used Houdini clothing, created a full season collection using 100 percent sustainable materials, and 83 percent of all of its products have a fully-circular lifecycle. Low-key we also love this Swedish sportswear company because it was founded by a female climbing guide who initially just wanted to create active underwear that would keep you warm without making you sweat. Fast-forward a few decades and Houdini is a top sustainable activewear brand with products for head to toe. They’ve got a great selection of jackets, but we’re partial to the waterproof BFF Jacket for men and women because of its minimalist look and high all-season function. Plus, it’s made from recycled (and recyclable) materials that, like all new Houdini apparel from 2018 onwards, doesn’t contain environment-damaging PFAS chemicals

Price at time of publish: $400

Return policy: Return items with labels and tags attached up to one year after purchase, exclusive of underwear. Customer pays for return shipping fees.

Tips for Buying Sustainable Activewear

Prioritize transparency

Persaud points out that if a brand is doing the work to be sustainable, they will want to tell you about it—in detail. Anything that is vague should be scrutinized. Keep your eyes peeled for buzzwords without specifics. For example, if a brand says it uses “sustainable material” but doesn’t explain what it is, where it’s made, or the impact, Prenaud says it should raise eyebrows.

Invest in pieces that will last

One of the biggest factors that helps to create a more sustainable fashion industry is in the hands of the consumer. Lowering the amount of new clothes you buy has a huge impact. Investing in pieces that will last, can be worn year-round, and have a predictably longer life helps stop the cycle of overconsumption. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What makes a brand sustainable?

    Sustainable is a complicated term when it comes to fashion. At a core level, it covers fair and ethical labor practices, an environmentally consious life cycle of garment material from sourcing through production to afterlife, and eco-friendly practices around production, waste, and shipping. D’Auriol recommends checking out Fashion Revolution as a great resource to explore further criteria and explanations of what it means to be a sustainable brand in the fashion industry. 

  • How should I care for my activewear?

    Wash items in cold water when possible, and choose to air dry over using the dryer. Both of these actions will save energy and help prolong the life of your activewear. Some fabrics may not require frequent washing, such as Merino wool. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Katherine Alex Beaven  is a writer and photographer covering travel, food, and culture. In researching top sustainable activewear brands, she interviewed eco-friendly experts and dug deep into brand missions, claims, and statements.

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