When we started designing our swimshorts, one of the first things we had to tackle was which type of fabric we were going to use. We had a couple of options, which we are all going to share with you, so that you can understand why we eventually decided to opt for recycled polyester.
Generally, swimwear is made from either polyester (synthetic fiber), polyamide (synthetic fiber) or cotton (plant-based fiber). Also: there is the option of creating a “blend”. Blends are a mix of two of these fabrics (e.g. 40% cotton and 60% polyamide).
We quickly decided not to use a blend, because they have one clear disadvantage: different fabrics respond differently to water, heat, etc. If you make a blend, you’ll have different fibers acting in different ways, which is not good for long term quality. Especially if you print a design on a blend, it’ll likely have a shorter lifespan.
So: that left us with the three fabrics mentioned:
We use cotton for our socks, but when we started designing our swimshorts, we quickly realised that it’s not the ideal fabric for swimwear. Cotton absorbs water, which makes it lose it’s shape and means your shorts get heavy and stay wet for much longer. Also, cotton degrades much easier in water, especially when there is chlorine in it.
Polyamide VS Polyester:
So, after we excluded cotton from the list, we were left with the two synthetic options: polyamide and polyester. When comparing the two, there similarities, but each have a couple of benefits compared to the other:
Benefits of polyester
- polyester is stronger and more durable than polyamide
- polyester is easier to print on, and offers much more color-richness
- polyester dries a little bit quicker
- polyester is more resistant to chlorine
Benefits of Polyamide
- polyamide is softer than than polyester
- polyamide stretches a little better than polyester
We were already gravitating towards polyester, because of the durability and printability of the fabric, when we found out about SEAQUAL.
SEAQUAL is an organisation that uses a network of NGO’s and fishermen in Portugal and Spain to collect plastic waste from beaches and oceans. The waste is then sorted and recycled into high quality fabric: recycled polyester.
Since sustainability is one of the key pillars of our Rockhopper identity, working with a recycled fabric was a no-brainer. We started a collaboration with SEAQUAL, which allowed us to work with the best possible fabric, and have a positive impact doing it.
Long story short: you can now rock high quality swimwear, that looks great, dries quickly and lives a long life, while supporting cleaner oceans :)