When I decided to review Blackbough Swim, I expected a fast fashion company, so I was surprised to see that they recently released a new brand of sustainable swimwear. Then after further looking into it, I realized my initial idea of the company was pretty accurate and this is mostly Greenwashing. Blackbough Swim is a new company from the Philippines that has grown exponentially over the last 5 years. They should be trying harder to be a more sustainable company because of how popular they have become through social media, especially instagram. If this company makes the choice to start a collection of “sustainable” swimsuits, then they need to go full circle and not just simply use the word ‘sustainable’ as a marketing technique. When a consumer is seeking a sustainable alternative, they should not have to worry about possibly being tricked into thinking a product has less of an impact on the environment than what it really does. Blackbough Swim should be using all recycled materials, and dyes that do not harm ecosystems/waterways. Although these swimsuits are stylish, the sustainable ribbed collection made from regenerated materials is not actually sustainable.
Blackbough Swim ribbed collection is made from 20% spandex and 80% regenerated fabric in which they claim is an alternative to nylon. The regenerated fabric is made from old fishing nets, fabric scraps, and other post consumer waste. They do not specify much more on what the swimsuits are made from. Usually a company would go into more detail about the type of fabric they are using and what makes it more sustainable, but Blackbough Swim did not go further to explain what the “regenerated fabric” is. Blackbough Swim website unfortunately has no mention of the types of dyes used in their swimsuits, so that leads me to believe that they are using the same harmful dyes used in other swimsuit products. Disappointing! This company is aware of the harmful effects that the textile industry has on our planet yet they do nothing to create less of an impact with the dyes. It was nice to see that they are at least mailing all their products out with 100% cornstarch mailer bags which cuts down on some plastic pollution that otherwise would have entered the environment. On that note they also provide a “resealable swimsuit bag” with all their suits as a handy object to put your wet swimsuit in after you're done swimming. The idea of this would be nice if the bag they used wasn’t super cheesy and made completely out of plastic. I understand that it is probably easiest to make this type of bag out of plastic, as it’s water resistant and would not become moldy after some time, but why try to make a sustainable alternative in swimwear and then include non-sustainable accessories with the product. Honestly, all this bag does is add waste to the environment. I’m sure some people might use it for a summer, but this will get thrown out early in it’s product life cycle. Not to mention the use of fossil fuels when manufacturing and transporting this bag. I would have to give this company a 1 out of 3 planet in this category because I can see that they are trying to have some form of sustainability within their fast fashion product lines, but they are not capturing the essence of what a sustainable swimsuit is. Blackbough swim needs to understand that creating a sustainable swimsuit means much more than just using some regenerated fabric.
On Blackbough Swim’s website there is no information about the manufacturer of their swimsuits products, and I believe this is most likely because they are a part of the fast fashion industry and they don’t want to tell us how/where they manufacture the stuff they sell. On the other hand, If this company would provide transparent information to their customers on how their products are made, that would make them attractive to consumers and stand out against competitors. Right now, things are not transparent enough for me and I would really like to learn more about how these swimsuits are manufactured. I looked into it a bit more and I found out that the Blackbough swimwear is designed and based in Manila, Philippines, and the company is primarily run by a small group of local employees. When the company first started, it was all done by one girl from the tropics who handmade everything on her own. Since this company has rapidly grown the last couple years, they have not focused on sustainability. I feel that they are highly focused on making sales, and they are using sustainability to appeal to a larger audience. I think this company being so new has a lot of room for improvement. They could take a huge lead on the sustainable swim market if they would direct their focus to creating products under a more circular design framework. Or at least create a yearly list of realistic sustainable goals to meet.
Jemina Ty is a Manila-based entrepreneur who started Blackbough Swim out of her bedroom. She wanted to make cute swimsuits that people in her local area would love. When she found out that her designs appealed to Western shoppers, she and her business partner, Edrich Ty, actively looked for an International Express shipping partner to help them grow their business to become international. I was pleasantly surprised by the About Us page on their website, as it seems very authentic and down to earth. However they do not mention anything about the sustainability of their products or any goals towards sustainability. They do mention wanting to go green, but do not lay out any sort of plan to achieve this. It seems the creator of this company did not have sustainability in mind when creating these swimsuits. I think as this company grew exponentially, it was hard for the founders to keep up with the influx of international customers, which is possible reason for what led them to adopting fast fashion methods. I cannot blame them for wanting to expand their business when the opportunity came, and even for choosing the easiest methods possible to meet the demands of international consumers. Now that Blackbough Swim is doing so well, they should focus their attention to becoming better at sustainability and embrace the circular economy method. This would be less costly to their business and the planet in the long-run.