Fast Company: Aerie’s new swimsuits are made from 1 million recycled plastic bottles

By Elizabeth Segran | Link to article

Brands throughout the fashion industry are striving to become more eco-friendly, from Everlane’s decision to cut new plastic from its supply chain to Allbirds’ quest to develop more sustainable sneaker materials.

Today, Aerie—AEO Inc.’s lingerie and lifestyle brand—announces its own commitment to sustainability with a new swimwear line called Real Good Swim. The 10-piece collection, priced between $19 and $54, is made from a fabric called Repreve, which is made from 82% rPET (more commonly known as recycled plastic bottles).

Other brands, including Reformation and Athleta, have recently shifted to using recycled plastic in their swimwear. AEO Inc.’s move toward more sustainable fabrics is significant given the scale of the company, which generates upwards of $4 billion in annual revenue. And since the brand targets young consumers, who are particularly concerned about sustainability, this line meets an important need in the market.“Our customers are asking for environmentally responsible products, and Aerie‘s goal is to deliver products that feel good to wear and to buy,” says Jen Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president. 

Aerie is deploying its team of ambassadors, called Aerie Real Role Models, to help launch the new line. Manuela Baron, for instance, a 24-year-old influencer based in Florida, is among them. She has 29,000 Instagram followers and is focused on educating her peers about sustainability.

“What I love about this campaign is that it is all about helping customers navigate what sustainability means when it comes to fashion,” she says. She points out that the suits are designed to be durable, with chlorine-resistant elastane that will stay stretchy after continued used in the pool. “Part of what I tell people is not to buy more clothes unless they really need them,” Baron says. “And when you need something, buy something you really love and that makes you feel great.”

Foyle concurs that this swim line is designed to spark conversation about sustainability. “[This capsule] collection is about more than just creating environmentally responsible products,” she says. “It’s also about encouraging conversations around protecting our planet and embracing a lifestyle that reduces waste.”

This new line is part of a broader push by AEO Inc. to become more sustainable. Last year, the company announced that it planned to become carbon neutral by 2030, while also reducing its total carbon emissions by 40%. And over the next three years, it will recycle half of all water used in its laundries and cut the water consumption used in denim production by a third.