Part of me loves the idea of one day learning to sew my own underwear, but let’s be real. As someone who only just has the skills to sew a reusable produce bag together, it won’t be happening any time soon. Plus there are probably a hundred other skills I’d rather learn first.
The reality is, I buy my underwear. Chances are, so do you.
I wanted to share all the options for sustainable, ethical and organic cotton underwear that I’ve come across. There’s been a few companies come and go over the years (Pants to Poverty – how good is that name? – being my first ethical underpant love that sadly disappeared a few years ago) but overall the options do seem to be growing.
I know some people balk at the price of ethical underwear. I have a few things to say about this. Firstly, I believe that we get what we pay for. Cheap things generally have externalized costs – meaning costs that aren’t factored in to the price.
That could mean not paying workers properly, or it could mean dumping chemicals in waterways that someone else has to pay to clean up – or pay with their health.
If I believe in paying the true cost, then I have to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. As someone who buys very few things new, I feel that when I do make a purchase I can afford to invest in what most aligns with my values.
And yes, it does take a bit of a mindset shift to get my head around the fact that I pay more for my underwear than I pay for my jeans. But I don’t buy new jeans and I don’t buy used underwear, so that’s how it is.
Finally, I can’t tell anyone else what they can and cannot afford. All I can do is share my choices and my reasoning. I think where we can afford to spend a bit more and buy ethical underwear, its important to do so, to support these companies and practices. If you can afford it, I’d encourage you to do so too.
And if you cannot, there are plenty of other ways that you can create positive change in your life. No judgement and no guilt – we are all trying our best to do what we can.
This post contains affiliate links (denoted by a *). You can read more at the end of the post.
I’ve listed the brands below in alphabetical order for ease. I’ve not included period underwear here as that is a separate topic for a separate post. There’ll be a separate post for men’s underwear coming soon!
Company HQ: Australia / Fairtrade: YES / Organic: YES / Made from: 95% cotton, 5% elastane / Made in: India / Ships: Worldwide
Etiko make underwear in three styles: bikini, boyleg and full brief. Colours are black, grey, tan (they call it latte) and pink.
Sizes: AU/UK 10 – AU/UK 20 (US 6 – 16, EU 38 – 48).
Tried and tested: I’ve purchased the boyleg style in a size 10. They are a generous 10 (if you’re petite they are going to be too big for you). They are slightly cheaper than some other brands, but don’t last quite as long.
Website: www.etiko.com.au *
Mighty Good Undies
Company HQ: Australian / Fairtrade: YES / Organic: YES / Made from: 95% cotton, 5% elastane / Made in: India / Ships: Australia
Mighty Good Undies have five women’s styles: granny, boy leg, hipster, bikini and g-string. Colours are black, grey and white.
Sizes: AU 8 – 22. (They claim their sizes run small so go up a size).
Tried and tested: I’ve purchased from this company a number of times (boy leg, bikini brief and hipster) and find the sizes to be all over the place. My third (most recent) purchase were hipster and bikini briefs both labelled AU 10/UK 8. There were sizing differences in the hipster waistband of more than an inch between two supposedly identical pairs. There was a differences of 4 inches between the hipster and the bikini brief (both labelled AU 10) – in fact the bikini brief is smaller than the AU 8 boy leg I previously purchased, and pretty much unwearable. See below:
I like the brand but find this lack of consistency frustrating (not to mention buying underwear that doesn’t fit). Hoping they sort it out.
Mighty Good Undies ceased trading in August 2019.
Company HQ: New Zealand / Fairtrade: No / Organic: uncertified / Made from: cotton or merino, elastane / Made in: New Zealand / Ships: Worldwide
Nisa have three styles in cotton: high full briefs, low full briefs and low cheeky briefs. Colours are black, navy and merlot, grey and mustard, rose, and pomegranate. They also make a merino wool low-waisted brief in electric blue.
Sizes: S, M, L and XL (AU sizes 10 – 16). They make plus-size underwear (sizes 18 – 24) to order.
Nisa employ women from refugee backgrounds to sew their underwear in Wellington, New Zealand. They state that they aim to source organic certified cotton ‘wherever they can’.
Tried and tested: I’ve not tried these but love the company’s ethos and vision.
Company HQ: Denmark / Fairtrade: No / Organic: YES / Made from: 95% cotton, 5% elastane / Made in: Turkey / Ships: Worldwide
Organic Basics have two styles in organic cotton: bikini briefs and thongs, in black or rose nude. (They also have a Slivertech range with two stypes – hiperster and thong – which are 82% organic cotton, 12% SilverTech polyester and 6% elastane).
Sizes: XS – XL (XS fits waist 61 – 65cm / 24 – 25″, XL fits waist 81 – 85cm / 31 – 33″)
Tried and tested: Organic Basics actually gave me a voucher to try their products. I chose the bikini briefs in a size S – I’d read that the sizing comes up big – and they fit perfectly. (What I’m particularly enamoured with is their organic cotton triangle bra, but I’ll talk about bras in a separate post.) Their multipacks are particularly good value. They are also very transparent about their sustainability efforts.
Website: organicbasics.com *
Company HQ: Japan/Australia / Fairtrade: No / Organic: YES / Made from: cotton, elastane / Made in: Japan/Australia / Ships: Worldwide
Pygoscelis Natural have two styles, high-waist and low-waist briefs, in two colours, sand and earth.
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL (waist equivalents 54 – 59cm, 60 – 66cm, 67 – 72cm, 73 – 79cm, 80 – 85cm)
This is a one-woman business where every piece is sewn by hand by Jeanne, a French lady living in Tokyo (and shortly relocating to Sydney, Australia).
Tried and tested: I have a pair of low-wast briefs in the old size medium (which was 64 – 70cm). The fabric is really soft and they are a comfortable fit. My guess is with the new sizing I’d stick to medium – I think I need those cm!
Company HQ: New Zealand / Fairtrade: YES / Organic: YES / Made from: 90% cotton, 10% spandex / Made in: New Zealand / USA / Ships: Worldwide
Thunderpants have four styles: original, hipster, women’s fitted boxer and undershorts. They have a lot of fun, printed designs which change regularly. Occasionally they release a series of zero waste ‘patchwork pants’ (pictured) made from fabric offcuts to reduce their waste.
Sizes: AU/UK 6 – 26 (US 0 – 20)
Tried and tested: I’ve not tried these but love the fun prints!
(They also have dedicated site for the USA thunderpantsusa.com, with products made in Oregon, Portland – same styles, but different fabrics.)
Company HQ: Australia / Fairtrade: YES / Organic: YES / Made from: cotton, elastane / Made in: Australia / Ships: Worldwide
Wonderpants have three styles: high-top, regular and low-rise. Colours are black, charcoal, yellow, red ochre, grey marle and white.
Sizes: AU/UK 8 – 18 (they say their sizes are a generous fit, and suggest considering going down a size compared to what you’d normally wear).
I love the idea of sustainable fashion, but the reality is there are too many used goods in the world for me to buy clothes new; I’d rather choose second-hand. As for underwear – well that’s a different story. And, it’s something I wear every day, so I figure it’s worth the investment.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Are there any favourites of yours in the list, or any you’ve not come across before? Any I’ve missed? I know there will be more brands out there, so if you know of any please tell us and I’ll update the list! Any other comments? Please share below!
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click a link to another website and choose to make a purchase, I may be compensated a small amount at no extra cost to yourself. My recommendations are always made with you, my readers, as my priority. I only align myself with companies whose products and ethos I genuinely love, and I only share companies and products with you that I believe you will be interested in.