The Ansea Reversible High Waisted Bikini Brief is a fashionable and minimalistic swimwear bottom that comes in three combinations of colors allowing for two bottoms in one. Ansea is one of the many sustainable swimwear brands that are moving away from using traditional nylon in their swimsuits and opting for Econyl, a recyclable nylon alternative. Although Ansea could be more transparent with their production processes, overall, this bikini bottom is not a bad option if you are in the market for sustainable swimwear and can afford the $145 price tag. If you are interested in swim brands that use Econyl, you can find alternative brands on the Econyl website.
These swimsuit bottoms are made of 78% regenerated nylon and 22% elastic. The regenerated nylon, aka Econyl, is a circular solution to nylon pollution made by Aquafil that uses old carpets, fishing nets, pre-consumer waste (aka nylon waste) and turns it into recyclable nylon that can be used again and again in products. This is an amazing alternative to regular nylon because it reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% by saving 70,000 barrels of crude oil and 65,100 tons of CO2 emissions for every 10,000 tons of Econyl raw material. Regular nylon is extremely difficult to breakdown, and it’s manufacturing process produces nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310x stronger than CO2. So using Econyl is great sustainable move on Ansea’s part! It is important to note that it’s unclear if Ansea takes back old products made with Econyl to help the Aquafil’s recycling process or if customers need to do that themselves.
On the other hand, the 22% elastic is a rather vague description of material composition. There are different types of elastic fabric used in clothing, and Ansea doesn’t specify which one specifically is used in this swimsuit. In general though, elastic is made from rubber and latex, a manufacturing process that releases large amounts of emissions and pollutes water.
Other then a “made in New York City” bullet on the product item’s website, there was little to no information regarding the production process of Ansea’s swimwear made easily available. Nevertheless, I was able to find Econyl’s production process, particularly when it comes to carpet recycling. With two carpet recycling facilities, one in Phoenix, Arizona and the other in Woodland, California, Aquafil processes 36 million pounds of carpet per year. The carpet is broken down into three main components which are all used for new purposes creating a closed-loop system. The resulting Nylon 6 is used to make Econyl, polypropylene is used for injection-molding, and calcium carbonate is reused in road construction. To make Econyl, nylon waste (like from the carpet recycling facility) gets sent to a factory in Slovenia and undergoes a radical regeneration and purification process. Afterwards the Econyl is turned into yarns and polymers to be used in the fashion and interior industries. One can assume the fabric is then shipped to Ansea factories to be made into items like the reversible high waisted bikini brief.
Ansea is a relatively new surf / swim lifestyle ecommerce brand based in NYC and founded by Abigail Lorick, mostly notably known as the ghost designer behind Eleanor Waldorf looks in the hit TV show Gossip Girl. The brand heavily emphasizes their “for women, by women” motto claiming that for too long the surf industry has been heavily male-dominated. In addition, they insist that sustainability is a big part of their mission opting for regenerative materials and fabrics when possible, such as Yulex rubber and Econyl. However, as a small brand, it’s difficult to find sufficient evidence supporting these claims especially due to the lack of sustainability reporting. To their credit, Ansea appears to be very transparent when it comes to percentage of different materials in products, and Ansea seems to get a lot of positive media coverage from Forbes, Vogue, and smaller fashion or sustainability websites. In various articles (all linked below), there are references to Ansea using compostable or recyclable packaging, producing in small batches in LA or NYC, and working with Solera, a female-run private equity firm. But other than that, there’s very little on their own website about what they are doing in terms of sustainability, which unfortunately feels a little shady to me. I would love to see more regarding gender equality/female empowerment and overall supply chain on a dedicated section of their site.