Skip to main content

This article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase via the links provided, I may earn a small commission (this is at no cost to you!).
Read more.

I don’t know about you, but I find that underwear generally falls into one of two camps – the hyper-sexual or the ultra-frumpy. And there’s very little middle ground.

Whether we’re dressing up (or should I say down?) in desperately uncomfortable lingerie that is designed first and foremost to appeal to men, or we’re rocking a look our nan would probably go for (no offence, nan), it can be surprisingly difficult to find honest underwear that looks and feels good.

Oh, and that’s without even getting started on a brand’s ethical and sustainable credentials!

So when I started researching the best ethical underwear in the UK, I naturally made sure to prioritise brands that care about people, planet and animals. But what I’ve also been looking out for are brands promoting a comfort-first, body-positive, and inclusive approach. Underwear that is designed to make women feel good in their own skin (a revolutionary concept, I know).

The good news is that there have been lots of innovative brands shaking up the underwear industry in the past few years, making it easier than ever before to support the good guys – all whilst embracing your inner goddess, too. 💁‍♀️

My Top Picks

Organic Basics

7 Non-Toxic & Sustainable Underwear Brands You’ll Feel Good In

Whilst shopping secondhand or wearing out the clothes already in your wardrobe are the best things you can do when embracing slow fashion, underwear is one of those things which does need replacing periodically and… I’m guessing you’d feel better buying new!

At the very least, we can choose to shop with brands that are more mindful of their impact.

For more on what to look for in ethical and sustainable underwear, I go into more detail later on in this post. But for now, let’s take a look at my favourite ethical underwear brands that are easily shoppable in the UK.

#1 Pantee

  • Certification: Sedex, GOTS & OEKO-Tex Certified
  • For: Women
  • Size Range: XS-3L
  • Price: £
  • My pick: Crop Top & Boxer Briefs (super cute & colourful to lounge in!)
  • 10% off your first order with newsletter sign-up

Founded in 2020 by sisters Amanda and Katie McCourt, Pantee’s mission is to combat waste in the textile industry. With a focus on deadstock fabrics, Pantee upcycles unsold t-shirts destined for landfill into beautiful and supportive women’s underwear.

Offering a variety of styles to suit all body shapes, Pantee promotes self-acceptance and inclusivity. In particular, it’s refreshing to see underwear modelled on real women throughout their product photography.

With recycled packaging, a positive Good on You rating, and 1% for the Planet membership, Pantee also have a glowing rating of 4.8/5 on Trustpilot. Oh, and they even plant a tree for every order placed!

#2 Boody

  • Certification: B-Corp, Ecocert, OEKO-Tex & PETA Approved Vegan
  • For: Women & Men
  • Size Range: XS-4XL
  • Price: ££
  • My Pick: Seam-Free Crop Bra & Hipster Bikini Briefs
  • 15% off your first order with newsletter sign-up

I’ve recommended Boody in multiple posts. If you’re looking for long-lasting and comfortable basics, your ethical wardrobe shouldn’t be without them!

They use organically grown bamboo as their hero material, which is naturally regenerative, requires less water, and reduces environmental impact compared to other textiles. It’s also naturally super-soft and breathable, making it an ideal choice to wear against your skin.

Boody’s designs are generally minimalist and zero fuss, making them great staple pieces that you’ll find yourself reaching for again and again. They also have an impressive range of certifications (including 100% vegan status), and are proud members of 1% for the Planet.

#3 Organic Basics

  • Certification: B-Corp, GOTS, Global Recycled Standard & PETA Approved Vegan
  • For: Women & Men
  • Size Range: XXS-2L
  • Price: ££
  • My Pick: Square Neck Bralette & Hi-Leg Briefs

Organic Basics aren’t technically a UK brand as they’re based in Denmark. But with 1-4 day UK-friendly shipping, they had to be included! They’re a fantastic brand paving the way for the comfort revolution with their range of sustainable basics.

Manufactured in certified European factories that ensure fair labour practices, they include lots of transparent information about their individual factories (including video tours!). They also prioritise earth and animal-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL™ and recycled materials.

I love everything about Organic Basics’ ethos, which is all based around a comfort-first approach, with well-constructed pieces that are made with women’s bodies in mind.

#4 Stripe & Stare

  • Certification: B-Corp, GOTS & OEKO-Tex Certified
  • For: Women
  • Size Range: XS-4XL
  • Price: ££
  • My Pick: Leopard T-Shirt Bra & Briefs
  • 10% off your first order with newsletter sign-up

Because nothing great was EVER achieved in uncomfortable knickers.

Amen. 🙏

Created by women for women, Stripe & Stare are a British brand occupying that elusive middle ground between ultra sexy and ultra frumpy undies, aka quality, stylish and well-fitting bras and briefs! I love their tagline above, which aptly captures their spirit of championing independence and empowerment for the modern-day woman.

The perfect option if you’re looking for a pop of colour or a bold print, Stripe & Stare’s underwear is made from TENCEL™ Modal, a fabric derived from beechwood trees which requires 95% less water to produce than cotton, as well as being breathable and antimicrobial. It also makes for exceedingly comfy pants!

Even better, Stripe & Stare’s knickers are fully biodegradable, so you simply need to cut out the label and pop them in the compost when you’re done.

#5 One Essentials

  • Certification: OEKO-Tex, Organic Textile Standard, Global Recycled Standard & Bluesign Product Certified
  • For: Women & Men
  • Size Range: XS-XL
  • Price: ££
  • My Pick: Essential Mid Rise Brief Pack of 3
  • 15% off your first order with newsletter sign-up

I want One Essentials to continually be at the forefront of innovation and driving radical change.

Carrie Davies, Founder

For a small but perfectly formed collection of sustainable underwear that will work perfectly in your capsule wardrobe, look no further than One Essentials!

Their non-toxic pants are made in Portugal with a blend of recycled cotton, organic cotton, and biodegradable elastane. They also have a first-fit guarantee, meaning that you can order two sizes and return the pair that doesn’t fit with no quibbles.

One Essentials promote circular fashion at every stage of the design process, right up to a garment’s end of life with their recycling scheme for old undies. They also donate 1% of all profits to textile clean-up initiatives.

#6 Woron

  • Certification: PETA Approved Vegan
  • For: Women
  • Size Range: S-2XL
  • Price: £££
  • My Pick: The One Base Bodysuit
  • 15% off your first order with newsletter sign-up

We want to take it back a notch, slow down a bit and ask questions like; “am I feeling comfortable in my own skin? Do I feel sexy and what does that even mean to me? Am I showing up with confidence in my daily life?”

Ethical lingerie brand Woron was founded by sisters Arina and Anya Woron – the second sister-led duo on this list! These delicate and subtle pieces are composed of certified organic cotton, soft Lenzing Modal, and regenerated fibres.

Woron manufacture all of their products in Europe, working predominantly with a family-owned and female-led factory in Hungary. All items are 100% plant-based and free from toxic dyes and harsh chemicals.

Woron is a Scandinavian brand but easily shoppable in the UK. Head on over to Content Beauty Wellbeing for a small selection of their products, or shop directly via their website with speedy shipping from Denmark.

#7 Y.O.U Underwear

Y.O.U Underwear are a fantastic company dedicated to creating positive change. Their mission is to empower vulnerable women and girls with access to education and employment opportunities, and they donate an incredible two pairs of underwear for every purchase through their partnership with charity Smalls for All.

As the highest-scoring B-Corp in the UK (a seriously impressive credential), they exemplify all things transparent and sustainable. Their undies are made with certified organic cotton at a leading sustainable factory in India. They also promote body positivity and inclusivity, with real women modelling their underwear – SO refreshing!

If you’re in the area, they have a shop in Oxford’s historic covered market, where you can drop off any old undies for recycling via their partnership with Terracycle.

What Does an Ethical Underwear Brand Look Like?

It’s not too difficult to manufacture an ethical t-shirt, but when it comes to more complicated shapes and designs like underwear, there’s more for brands to consider.

I’ve written more in-depth on the subject of how to tell the truly ethical fashion brands from the greenwashers, but here are a few quick checks you can run through when deciding where to purchase your underwear:

They care about the people in their supply chain

Fast fashion routinely puts profit above people, as seen in the heartbreaking Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. And when it comes to underwear, the turnover and amount of waste textiles is even worse. Bras and knickers are easily disposable products that we can purchase incredibly cheaply from the likes of Primark and other ultra-fast fashion giants.

On the contrary, ethical brands prioritise fair labour practices, ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages for all. They will also develop long-lasting and mutually respectful relationships with their suppliers. A good sign is when brands provide transparent information about their factories – something which you can see in all of the brands featured in this list.

They minimise their environmental impact through their choice of materials & processes

Sustainable design moves from a linear model to a closed-loop model of production, minimising the environmental impact at every stage of the design process, right through to the garment’s end of life.

By prioritising less resource-intensive and higher-quality sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo and recycled materials, brands significantly reduce their environmental impact. This also removes many harsh chemicals and dyes from the supply chain, making products kinder on your skin (especially important when it comes to your intimate areas).

Recycling programs and charitable donations like 1% for the Planet are further good signs that a brand takes sustainability seriously.

A range of nude bras on hangers

They don’t use animal-derived materials

An ethical underwear brand cares about people and the environment, but it also cares about animals too – the often silent victims of the fashion industry. When you opt for brands which use plant-based materials and trims (as opposed to silk or other animal-derived textiles), you don’t contribute to any unnecessary animal suffering. The main certification to look out for is the PETA stamp of approval.

They want to empower women to feel their best

It’s no surprise to me that the majority of brands on this list are female-founded. Whilst embracing female sexuality and pleasure are all good things, let’s face it – many underwear brands hold women to impossible standards. There’s a huge difference between brands which hyper-sexualise women for a male gaze (I’m looking at you, Ann Summers), and brands which encourage body positivity and inclusivity.

Underwear should be stylish, but first and foremost it should be comfortable. As Stripe & Stare put it – nothing was ever achieved in uncomfortable knickers. Women will also never be truly confident and at ease in their bodies until they start internalising healthier messages.

When we’re competing with the porn industry and perfectly airbrushed photos, it’s no wonder that so many women feel deeply insecure, less than, and hate all the ‘imperfect’ parts of their bodies.

Brands that are working to empower women will show their underwear modelled on real women of all shapes, sizes and ages – without any retouching.

Encouraging body positivity in the underwear industry

Ethical & Sustainable Underwear FAQs

Help! I’m concerned about getting the right fit when ordering online.

A bit like shoes, underwear can be tricky when you’re ordering online and aren’t able to try on beforehand. Because I have a smaller cup size, a non-wired bra is fine for me and I can usually get away with an educated guess on the sizing. However, I completely appreciate that this isn’t the case for everyone! You may find that it’s helpful to buy a couple of sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. Most brands appreciate the difficulty with online underwear shopping so will have a free returns policy, but do check with the individual brand before you place your order.

Is ethical underwear more expensive?

I’ve tried my best to include brands in this list at a mid-price point. Whilst they’re undoubtedly more expensive than fast fashion brands, they’re also much more reasonably priced than boutique designer pieces (which probably aren’t anywhere near as comfortable or durable). Ethically produced pieces aren’t cheap, but you’re going to feel good about purchasing kinder products. They’re also going to last you a lot longer than flimsy Primark knickers that develop a hole in the crotch after a few wears! I’ve written more on the price tag of ethical fashion here.

What are the essential pieces for my minimalist capsule wardrobe?

When your current underwear needs an update, as a starting point I’d suggest investing in a few comfortable black and white bras, plus five or so matching pairs of knickers in each colour. Then, add a couple of colourful or patterned sets into the mix, if you like. I’ve suggested some of my favourites for each brand above. I’ve also written more on how to build your capsule wardrobe over here.

Invest in Underwear That Is Kind to People, Planet, Animals… & You!

Fast fashion pumps out skimpy, uncomfortable little numbers that promise to make us feel sexy and beautiful, but more often than not only perpetuate long-term feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Not to mention being relegated to the bottom of a drawer or thrown in the bin after the first wear!

At a bare minimum (pun intended), underwear should be ethically and sustainably made. But it should also feed into more empowering narratives that help you to feel good in your body and go about your day like the gorgeous, bad-ass girl boss that you are.

By supporting any of the innovative and body-positive brands in this post, you’ll be doing just that. 💪

For more in ethical and sustainable fashion, don’t forget to check out my posts on the best vegan fashion brands, sustainable activewear and ethical comfies. I’ve also got plenty of period-friendly underwear suggestions.

Pin This for Later

Leave a Reply