Elle Evans: Showing Love for the Planet with Activewear Made from Plastics and Ghost Nets Collected from the Ocean

Made from 100% recycled fabric, such as plastic waste dredged from the sea, Elle Evans gives us the gratifying feeling of helping the planet whilst looking splendid out on the beach or in the training studio. Designed to be worn outdoors, from beautiful beaches to freezing cold oceans and rainforests, the designer brand led by the Australian female duo makes us connect with nature on a deeper level.

Words: Meri Frig

  Image: Elle Evans Activewear

Image: Elle Evans Activewear

How did you originally become interested in sustainability in fashion?

I've always been a re-user. Growing up, we would pass clothing down from cousin to cousin, alter and mend things when they didn't fit or were torn, and make our own dresses from fabric found at the opp-shop. But after 4 years in the industry, I realised that the rag trade doesn't work that way. It felt so wrong to see alone how much fabric was wasted. So when Elle Evans Swimwear was born, I knew I wanted to create as little impact as I could, and hopefully even help reduce an existing waste problem. 

How did you come up with the idea to use recycled materials, such as collected plastic bottles, for the Elle Evans swim and activewear?

Knowing I didn't want to just create more waste, I started by using dead stock or pre-consumer waste fabrics (leftovers from larger companies and warehouses). But as we grew, I realised I needed a more consistent option and began looking into 100% recycled fabrics. When I found ECONYL (the regenerated nylon we use today), I knew it was perfect. As it was not only 80% less harmful to produce, but it actually helped rid the ocean of plastics and ghost-nets. 

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Do you see these materials becoming more popular in the future?

Even in the few years Elle Evans has been using recycled fabrics, I've seen them become more apparent in the swim and activewear industries. I think not only are companies striving to be more sustainable, but consumers are actually shopping more consciously than ever before.

What is your design philosophy?

I've always been of the opinion that as the designer and creator of each swimsuit or pair of leggings we make, I'm responsible for its entire life-cycle. So I design all our pieces to be versatile. Whether that’s having adjustable straps or being entirely reversible, high quality fabric and make, and a great fit, so it will be worn for years rather than just a season. 

"Part of the versatility of our collections is that I do design for the beautiful Australian beaches and rainforests and green spaces, but also for the freezing Melbourne oceans and the hot hot Darwin sun."

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What inspired the prints? Who are they designed for? 

I usually find my inspiration in nature, the vivid colours of a ruby red grapefruit sparked the print and deep pink detail of our latest collection ‘POMELO’. Once a print has taken shape in my mind, I start to imagine who would be wearing it and where, and the designs just flow from there. 

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In what ways can we create awareness and call for increased consciousness about the problem of rapidly increasing plastic pollution in the natural environment?

It's such a huge problem and I think that's the issue; it's too big for people to comprehend. I think the best thing we can do is try to break down these massive environmental issues into more digestible parts. There was a TV documentary series here in Australia called War On Waste that did a really great job on this. I also think that while bringing your canvas bag to the supermarket and using your keep-cup religiously is very important. The biggest form of activism is to lobby your local council or government representative, let them know that you back the ban on plastic bags, or that you'd support a bottle recycling program in your local school.

"I think the best thing we can do is try to break down these massive environmental issues into more digestible parts."

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It is argued that people who exercise outdoors have a deeper respect for nature than most. How has the Australian landscape and culture affected the Elle Evans design and brand?

I 100% agree with this!! Being outdoors is my reset button, rail, hail or shine (preferably shine). I think I've always been drawn to swim and activewear because it is functional, as well as fashionable. Part of the versatility of our collections is that I do design for the beautiful Australian beaches and rainforests and green spaces, but also for the freezing Melbourne oceans and the hot hot Darwin sun. 

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