Tights season is most definitely upon us, and between Burberry’s checked tights, Monse’s naughty Noughties sparkly fishnets, Saint Laurent’s lacey legs, Chanel’s polka dot patterns and Balenciaga’s liquid-look design, the AW20 catwalks confirmed that there’s still an appetite for chic hosiery (even if party season might be on hold this year).
Taking care of your tights, looking for pairs made of Econyl (which regenerates waste materials), and investing in quality over quantity will extend the lifespan of your hosiery. But if you still need new legwear, we’ve put together a list of the most innovative, eco-friendly hosiery brands to shop now.
Every winter, women everywhere realise that last year’s tights have been wadded up into a ball and wedged at the back of their draw. More often than not, they’ll have lost their shape, laddered, started pilling, or all of the above.
We wear through the toes dancing, we catch them on things we can’t even see and because tights are relatively cheap, we throw them away and simply buy a new pair the next time we pop to the shops.
But tights are made from nylon, a synthetic polymer fabric that takes 30-40 years to break down and releases microplastics when it’s washed; the manufacturing process requires a huge amount of heat, water and energy, and nylon is not widely recycled. So these virtually single-wear items end up in landfill, which emits greenhouse gases, contaminates water and creates environmental hazards.
Circular fashion brand Thought makes tights out of Ecocert Organic Standard certified bamboo, which is soft and durable, and due to its fast growing rate, a super-sustainable natural resource, too. Thought’s mantra is “wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on”, and the brand partners with Smart Works, an organisation that dresses and empowers out-of-work women by donating all unworn production samples each season plus supports various environmental charities.
Female-owned Billi London uses a secret formula to create a nylon/elastane blend that biodegrades in under five years. The fibres are modified to attract microorganisms to accelerate its biodegradation process and transform discarded tights into organic matter and biogas, and their production factories are fitted with water recycling facilities and solar panels.
Swedish Stockings is so stylish even Ganni wants to collaborate, but their eco credentials are on par with their fashion ones. Production is powered by renewable energy, in a zero-waste, emission-free facility in Italy, and their hosiery is made from both pre and post-consumer nylon waste. They also help customers new and old recycle their old tights – if you send them three pairs from any brand and include your email address, you’ll receive a 10% discount on your next purchase.
Designed for expectant mothers, Boob’s inclusive sizing accommodates for growing baby bumps and post-pregnancy bodies. Their supply chain champions transparency by tracing their sustainably sourced materials from fibre to fabric, and they’ve recently rolled out a rental system to reduce waste consumption, with customers in Sweden now having the option to rent garments through Hyber.
Compared to standard dying processes, which use around 22 litres of water to dye one pair of tights, Hedoine’s process uses just 50ml per pair. They do use nylon, but their manufacturing process is rigorously checked to make sure it doesn’t include nasty chemicals such as pesticides, carcinogenic colouring or harmful heavy metals. Their packaging is recycled, and have recently partnered with Guppyfriend, which creates bags that reduce microplastic pollution from washing by around 90%.
German brand Lanius swerved Black Friday, which often comes under fire for encouraging mass consumption and prices that suggest exploitation, but took part in ‘Blue Friday’ instead, donating 10% of profits made that day to the Healthy Seas initiative which collects waste fishing nets and turns them into valuable resources. Lanius uses materials sourced from organic farms and sustainable sources, are carbon-neutral, carry the PETA “Approved Vegan” label, and are working towards becoming plastic-free.
The Legwear Co
Three out of five fast fashion items ends up in landfill, but The Legwear Co is so confident that their tights will last longer that a couple of wears that their products come with a 60 day warranty, the first of its kind for hosiery, and customers can return unwanted or old pairs – regardless of brand – for them to recycle free of charge, saving it from ending up in landfill.