Many of us are making sustainable swaps to create an ethical and stylish capsule wardrobe, but despite being one of fashion’s biggest culprits when it comes to our environment, tights are still going under the radar.
Daniel Clayton, Managing Director of Legwear Company, told the Guardian in 2019 that tights are ‘the single-use plastic of the textile industry’ and estimated that there’s around ‘103,000 tons of hosiery waste created every year around the world … the equivalent of more than 8,000 double-decker buses.’
Tights are mostly made from nylon, a synthetic fibre essentially made from plastic.
Derived from crude oil, it takes up to 100 years for them to break down – so while consumers will throw their tights away at the sight of one tiny ladder, they will be in landfill for three more decades.
With many labels including Gucci and Fendi releasing monogrammed hosiery and statement tights having a moment, many will be disheartened to hear how damaging tights are for the planet – but luckily, there are people out there doing things differently.
These days, tights can be manufactured in a variety of eco-friendly ways. Whether made from recycled nylon or recycled ocean fishnet, there’s now no excuse not to shop consciously.
So for those looking to change their habits, here are the best stores to shop your tights for a healthier planet.
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Swedish Stockings offer tights made from pre and post-consumer nylon waste.
All their tights are manufactured in zero-waste factories powered by the sun and renewable energy, using vegan dyes and purifying water used in the dyeing process after use.
They also have a recycling program, offering customers who send them 3 pairs of synthetic tights from any brand a 10% discount in return.
Instead of simply throwing your tights into landfill, Swedish Stockings will melt them down and use them as filling in fibreglass tanks.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that their ethical and sustainable approach to tights must make them boring. They collaborated with Ganni to create a capsule collection of sustainable tights featuring the Danish brand’s eclectic prints, while they have a variety of statement tights of their own too.
Tights, £20 – buy now
Biodegradable tights, £15 – buy now
Everyone knows Pretty Polly, but did you know that they’ve upped their sustainability game and now stock biodegradable tights, leggings and underwear?
These tights will biodegrade in 3-5 years when properly disposed of in landfill, as they’re made from biodegradable polyamide – the first in the world.
If you’re worried they’ll start disintegrating as you wear them, there’s no need. This process only happens when they’re disposed of, so until then, you can wear them to your heart’s content.
20 Denier 2 Pack, £29.99 – buy now
Aussie brand Legwear Company offer sustainable tights, made from melting and extracting elastane found in the nylon fibre blend.
Unlike the majority of hosiery sold on the high street Legwear Co. offer a 60-day warranty, meaning you can return tights you’re unsatisfied with free of charge. While a 2-pack of 50 denier tights made from recycled materials will set you back nearly £30, that makes it well worth the higher price tag.
They also offer the chance for customers to recycle old synthetic tights with a pre-paid postage label, making it as easy as possible to do your bit.
Tights, £25 – buy now
Despite being a relatively unknown brand, Billi London are making waves by offering the world’s first 100% biodegradable tights, which decompose after just five years – instead of 40-100 like regular tights.
Billi London’s tights break down into organic matter and biogas, making them disappear completely.
Tights, £18.95 – buy now
From mustard yellow, to classic black, Thought offer a variety of wooly tights spun from bamboo yarn and recycled polyester.
Bamboo is said to be both breathable and naturally anti-bacterial, making them even fresher than regular tights.