Friday 19 February 2021 12:20 pm

Bamboo briefs and kelp knickers: are your pants eco-friendly?

The latest front in the war against environmental decline is happening inside your pants, with the arrival of bamboo briefs and kelp knickers.

London’s Alexander Clementine has launched a collection of ecologically-conscious bras undies made from seaweed. 

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The garments are handmade in London and virtually all waste created during manufacturing is reused or recycled. “We wanted to build a sustainable underwear brand that rivals its fast fashion counterparts,” says co-founder Alexander Perry. “A brand where the style and design is as good as the ethical and eco credentials. There’s definitely a gap in the market for style-first sustainable underwear.”

The collection includes carbon neutral high-waisted seaweed briefs in lilac or black, and triangle bras made from wood and Icelandic fjord seaweed.

An Alexander Clementine bra made from seaweed

“Our unique silk-like fabric is made up of two components,” says co-founder  Freya Clementine Rosedale. “Seaweed and wood pulp. Production takes place in a closed loop with no chemicals released as waste. This patented process embeds the seaweed firmly within the natural cellulose fibre. 

“Wood and pulp comes from natural forests and sustainably managed plantations. In the Icelandic fjords there is minimal water contamination and zero pollution from ship traffic. We harvest only above the regenerative point of the plant every four years.” 

Seaweed requires far less water, land and chemicals to manufacture than cottons, and is also more wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying and durable. Cotton, on the other hand, requires up to 3,000 litres of water per T-shirt.

If seaweed’s not your thing, Dutch firm Bamigo is bringing a range of bamboo briefs to the UK, alongside T-shirts, sweat pants, socks, bathrobes and pyjamas.

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The company says hypo-allergenic bamboo is an alternative to polyester, cotton, Elastaine and Lycra Spandex. Its bamboo fabric contains microscopic holes to aid ventilation, and the fabric absorbs up to 70 per cent more moisture than cotton without retaining unpleasant odours, allowing the skin to breathe. 

The thermal regulating effect of bamboo fibres provides added protection against the cold whilst preventing overheating. They are  quick-drying, crease-free  and don’t require ironing, if you’re the kind of person who irons your pants.

Bamboo requires only sunlight and rainwater to grow. The use of bamboo also has a positive impact on global environmental concerns such as soil erosion, deforestation, water scarcity and the current nitrogen crisis.   

“Our clothing feels like a second skin.” says Bart Hoorntje, CEO at Bamigo. “We believe British shoppers attach as much value to sustainability as we do.”