Would you wear smalls made from seaweed?

Would you wear smalls made from seaweed?

  • Brands are finally sliding an attractive green option into our knicker drawers
  • READ MORE:  Marks & Spencer calls on government to cut VAT on period underwear following abolition of the ‘tampon tax’

Pre-loved, hardly-ever-worn, vintage. All words that apply to our growing desire to buy less new clothing — to love something that someone else has worn for months or even years before you.

Apply those same words to the lingerie market and things start to feel, well, significantly less appealing. But brace yourself, because the latest fashion trend is for sustainable knickers.

Happily, I don’t mean second-hand. And neither do I mean scratchy apple-catchers in earthy shades, handwoven from thick, sensible fabrics.

This is because a growing number of brands are finally sliding an attractive green option into our knicker drawers and the latest batch is closer to the pretty little things you might find at La Perla or Coco de Mer (though for significantly less cash!).

So, are you brave enough to trade in your trusty hi-legs for a pair of pants made from pulp? Read on for my pick of the best eco-undies.

A growing number of brands are finally sliding an attractive green option into our knicker drawers (stock image)


I’ve spent the past week wearing Stripe & Stare’s lingerie made from compostable wood pulp from beechwood grown in sustainably managed forests and turned into Tencel fibres. 

When I’m done with them, they will decompose, like the vegetable peelings in the compost bin. But are they up to the task?

Once the set is on, the fabric feels cloud soft. There are none of those horrible skin indentations across the hips from a poor fit, or the dreaded back fat from a bra that’s cutting into your flesh. But, for those who need more support, it may not be a plus.

Nonetheless, these are joyful smalls, in candyfloss pink stripes, reminiscent of a circus big top. 

Original style knickers, £18, stripeandstare.com

And, in the design I choose (T-shirt bra, £30, and matching Original style knickers, £18, stripeandstare.com) I’m grateful there’s no underwire. I kissed goodbye to that instrument of torture years ago.

They even passed my suits-all approach to laundering everything on an easy-care cycle at 30c, regardless of the instructions. 

I didn’t bother with the net bag it suggests you use for washing. Happily, there was no shrinkage or colour fade.


Nudea’s version — the Tencel Seamless Bralette — is the brand’s most sustainable bra to date and is available in white, grey and a pretty rose-pink (£40, nudea.com).

More of a crop-top style, it’s a non-wired cosy cross between a bra and a vest with a deep band of ribbed fabric that feels very comfortable when on.

I like that the light padding can be removed and the adjustable multiway straps allow maximum use.

They have dispensed with a wash label and cleverly printed the instructions on the inside of the bra so there’s no large, irritating tag. It is one of the most comfortable bras I’ve worn.

Nudea will facilitate the recycling of your ready-to-retire undies via the website, partnering with a company to turn them into household insulation products and carpet backing. Then they’ll discount your next order as a thank you.

Given that the average woman in the UK owns 20 bras but wears only five, this makes sense.


Darling of the fashion press, the boldly named Buttress & Snatch (they’ve lifted the bosoms of singers Madonna and Beth Ditto, and supermodel Kate Moss) is championing ‘trashion’. 

Founder Rachel Kenyon is a lover of vintage treasures and has spent more than 20 years gathering from an incredible array of sources.

Recycled cotton shirt knickers, £29, buttressandsnatch.co.uk

She’s making bespoke lingerie from barristers’ shirts, vintage eiderdowns, tablecloths and even scraps from a gold Julien MacDonald dress worn by Shirley Bassey at Glastonbury (recycled cotton shirt knickers, £29, buttressandsnatch.co.uk).

There’s also a silk bra trimmed with a chiffon rose that was a remnant from a hat made for the late romantic novelist Barbara Cartland.

Kenyon will also make knickers from your own supplied fabric. A thong from one of your husband’s old silk ties, perhaps? I can feel a bespoke Christmas present coming on . . .


A little less chic than dames’ designer gowns, Pantee makes underwear from some of the two billion T-shirts unsold globally each year.

Although the idea of wearing deadstock T-shirts may not sound appealing, the brand has very strict standards and works only with high-quality fabrics that are 95 per cent cotton.

The sustainably sourced sets come in a minty teal, baby pink, bright blue and the eternally useful black-and-white basics (from £16, pantee.co.uk).

I particularly love the bow-shaped bralettes which definitely pass the eco-chic test.

The latest batch of sustainable underwear is closer to the pretty little things you might find at La Perla or Coco de Mer (stock image)


Alexander Clementine is a company fashioning knickers and bras from Icelandic seaweed, requiring 97 per cent less water than cotton to make.

The silk-like blend of seaweed and Australian eucalyptus retains its natural properties, making the underwear naturally antibacterial, anti-odour and able to regulate temperature.

The undies also claim hidden health benefits — enriched with vitamins and minerals that are absorbed through the skin. These include iron, iodine and vitamins A, C, E and B12.

Fans include Lady Amelia Windsor, who also collaborated with the brand on a sweet baby-pink set (thong, £24; triangle bra, £25.50, alexanderclementine.com). If they’re good enough for a royal bottom, then count me in.

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