Luxury Products can Afford Sustainability


Alyson Gessner

Excuse me. What?

July 20, 2021

Imagine a world where Instagram models with millions of followers were actively promoting sustainable swimwear, where the fresh new brands promoted by Kylie Jenner and Haley Baldwin got everyone talking about sustainability.

Frankies Bikinis might think that’s what’s happening.

It’s not.

After taking the Instagram world by storm, Frankies Bikinis are becoming one of the up-and-coming swimwear lines supported by the greatest advertiser of all time: the Internet. Their suits feature trendy designs, high quality materials, and inclusive marketing. While they do frequently release new styles, their high prices inadvertently discourage overconsumption, mainly because the average person probably can’t afford a new item every time styles drop. Recently they’ve been putting out sustainable pieces, however, and that’s what’s making me pause.

Frankies’ sustainable collections aren’t the worst case of greenwashing ever. Their bathing suits use a biodegradable Nylon material produced by Amni Soul Eco® that makes up 88% of the product. This is great, considering that Nylon has a terrible environmental impact and never degrades. But subbing one material for something more sustainable doesn’t really feel like it should make the whole product qualify as green.

I’ve written before about how a sustainable product has to be sustainable in every part of its production, not just the materials that go into it. Frankies is another example of sustainability stopping short.

What frustrates me about Frankies is that their prices suggest they should be able to afford sustainability. It’s hard to find sustainable products that are affordable for lower income or younger consumers, but I’m positive you could find an $85 bikini that’s actually sustainable. So why is Frankies pretending to be better than they are? Or moreso, if they’re charging the same prices for a sustainable option, why not go above and beyond?

Why not create circular solutions? Why not improve your spandex materials as well? Why not increase efficiency in your factories? Why not pay your workers fair wages? And if you’re committed to sustainability, why not use your alternative Nylon in every product?

Maybe it’s infeasible to make all of these changes, but stopping after one material doesn’t make the cut.



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