Sustainable fashion

The Making of a Sustainable Swimsuit with Sage Larock

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” -Rumi

Taryn Larock is the founder of Sustainable Luxury Swimwear by Sage Larock. Their ethos is not sacrificing sustainability for style. Sage Larock is committed to offering ethically made and sustainably sourced sustainable swimwear for women— “We want to dress women who want to change the world” (Sage Larock). Their sustainable luxury swimwear is made from sustainable, recycled or organic materials (non-toxic and plant based dyes) — and ethically made in Los Angles, California. Sustainable fabrics used in the making of their swimwear is made from upcycled swimwear fabric, which is made of recycled fishing nets and plastic debris recovered from the ocean. They also use ECONYL®, regenerated nylon made from waste, to make their swimsuits. Sage Larock is dedicated to using sustainable fashion as a platform to raise ocean awareness, focusing on plastic ocean pollution and abandoned drift nets. Their swimwear is inspired by the love of the ocean and respect for the environment and commitment to ethical fashion. Sage Larock takes pride in their integrity and respect for our oceans and planet. They are committed to working with sustainable materials and suppliers around the globe and hope to incite positive changes in the fashion industry. Their dedication to protecting the ocean expands to their partnership with NGO’s Healthy Seas, Ghost Fishing (Ghost Divers) and Canopy. A percentage of their swimwear sales goes towards helping these NGO’s in their efforts to protect our oceans and rainforest.

Why Does Sustainable Fashion Matter? 

The future of fashion is circular fashion. Sustainable fashion is the way forward. For Sage Larock, their ethically made swimwear tells their story, one that is about a journey of transforming reclaimed ocean plastic waste and fishing nets into fashion. Each swimsuit made from upcycled ocean plastic serves as a reminder that we can all do our part to be proactive and help facilitate positive change towards causes that are close to our hearts. According to a report by UNEP and FAO the 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left in our oceans each year. Moreover, “Half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres- the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles- leak into the ocean each year, not only affecting marine life, but, fundamentally, all of us.”- Make Fashion Circular. With this in mind, it is becoming more evident that fashion brands need to take notice of both the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and the escalating issue and growing concern of ocean pollution. Sustainable fashion is not a trend, it is lifelong commitment to creating positive changes, providing a solution to plastic waste and encouraging social responsibility. Eco Fashion is not just a design philosophy but a statement. It encourages transparency of the manufacturing of clothing and brings to attention the great value of providing ethically and sustainably made clothing. Furthermore, it presents a challenge for fashion brands to consider stepping up their game and changing their business model whereby their focus becomes setting standards of sustainability and ethical sourcing.

Interview with Taryn Larock, founder of Sage Larock

1. What is the process involved in making a sustainable swimsuit?

The entire process of sustainable design considers the impact of your product from start to finish has on people, animals, the environment & the planet. We use Oeko-Tex certified fabric that can be upcycled at the end of the swimsuits lifecycle, and we produce ethically & locally in Los Angeles.

I don’t believe you can create sustainable products without taking every step & its possible effects into consideration. What we all need to consider is can something can be considered sustainable that is ethically produced in a factory with fair working conditions, if the fabric contributes to deforestation & habitat destruction, or the fabric is made with chemically intensive dyes that causes birth defects in workers families and pollutes rivers?  There really is so much green washing going on in the fashion industry with brands wanting to appear ‘sustainable’, so it is good for everyone to be educated about this process and what goes into their clothing.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from when designing your collection(s)?

Everywhere actually – we are constantly inspired by vintage photography, architecture, nature. I would say our aesthetic is ‘less is more’ – not necessarily less fabric & showing more skin, but just clean, well cut, minimalistic design that brings out the best in a woman’s figure instead of distracting from it.

3. What interesting fact(s) would surprise people about designing and making sustainable swimwear?

The quality is often better than traditionally made swimwear! I mean that because polyester fabric that most swimwear is made from is made of plastic and it in my opinion does not feel great on your skin and is full of  chemicals. Also, many brands produce in sweat shops, and I don’t believe that someone who is working 14 hour days and is not treated well is going to be able to put the same care & love into making something as someone that loves their work, makes a living wage and has good working conditions. Also, because sustainable fashion is still somewhat new, many people think that because something is sustainable style & quality have to be compromised – but its definitely not true!  We believe in leading with both sustainability and design.

4. How do you source your sustainable materials and why do you choose those particular materials?

We currently use Econyl Okeo-Tex certified upcycled fabric. The world definitely does not need more new plastic being manufactured, as we already have 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic that will never biodegrade floating in our oceans, not to mention what is in landfills or incinerated (which leads to lung disease). Traditional swim & active fabric – polyester – is an incredibly toxic, chemically intensive material that is made from the same petroleum oil based plastic PET as water bottles. If we can up-cycle and use the plastic that is literally already killing our oceans – and therefore our global oxygen supply – why should swimwear or activewear be made by making new plastic? And why would we want those harsh chemicals so close to our skin?

Outside of skinny dipping, or wearing a vintage style cotton swimsuit, up-cycling exciting fishing gear & plastic from our oceans to make our swimwear is the next best option we felt. So we chose a fabric that uses low impact dyes, is made in a environmentally contentious manner, and utilizes existing ocean plastic debris.

5. The Fashion Industry is said to be a major contributor to placing a negative environmental impact on our planet, how does sustainable practices help decrease this negative impact?

The fashion industry is said to be the 3rd most polluting industry on the planet behind oil & animal agriculture – and for what – a t-shirt or dress we will forget in a year or two? Its not at all worth the massive destruction it causes to our Earth, other people’s lives, and other animals. I recently read that the fashion industry also is one of the top industries that relies on slave labor, so all these things need to change. Consumers have an incredible ability to influence this change and power with what they purchase, wear and support. From that perspective it is pretty amazing to be in a time where we as individuals have such a great opportunity to make a difference in what we wear. Its just a matter of deciding what kind of impact we each want to have on the world environment and other people’s lives.

6. What advice would you give to emerging and/or established fashion designer seeking to adopt sustainable practices?

I would say look at how you make things and what you are making them from, and just make sure you are proud of what you are putting out there and how it is produced. Just because everyone else in the industry is doing things in a certain way and it makes money does not mean it is the right or best thing to do. And just start by learning and educating yourself and your employees. I think brands have a responsibility to know what their business practices are and what the effects are from start to finish. No one person or brand is perfect, but we should all at very least be aware of the effects of our actions.

7. What are the greatest benefits of implementing sustainable practices in your business model?

I definitely believe in the inherent benefit of doing something good just for the sake of doing the right thing, or the best you can. I also have seen that the trend of sustainability is only just beginning to grow – so it makes sense in the long run financially as well.

 8. What is a typical day behind the scenes designing and making a sustainable swimsuit like? 

Always different, and never boring!  Some days it is sewing new swimwear and casting models for shoots, but most days it is attending meetings and working on new non-profit alliances, and working on being better at what we do. Our ultimate goal is to be as sustainable as possible while making women feel great about themselves and feel beautiful, so we are always working towards reaching this goal.


*Proud Brand Ambassador for Sage Larock.

Photo Credit: Lori- Ann Speirs