A Guide to Ethical + Organic Underwear Brands

A Guide to Ethical + Organic Underwear Brands

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!

Etiko Underwear

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.

Nisa Women

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.

Website: nisa.co.nz

Organic Basics

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 *

Pygoscelis Natural

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!

Website: pygoscelis-natural.com

Thunderpants

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!

Website: thunderpants.co.nz

(They also have dedicated site for the USA thunderpantsusa.com, with products made in Oregon, Portland – same styles, but different fabrics.)

Wonderpants

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).

Website: wonderpants.com.au

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.

Guide to Ethical Underwear (Organic and Fair Trade Options) from Treading My Own Path | Zero Waste + Plastic-Free Living | Less waste, less stuff, sustainable living. Ethical wardrobe, fair trade undies, organic cotton, organic basics, ethical fashion, sustainable fashion, circular fashion, green living, eco-friendly choices, natural fibres. More at https://treadingmyownpath.com

36 Responses to A Guide to Ethical + Organic Underwear Brands

  1. What do you think if Boody, Lindsay? I’ve read some not so great things about Bamboo so maybe that’s why you haven’t included them here?

    • I’m not a fan of bamboo Marita, and I’ve read lots of bad things about it – that it is essentially rayon, a synthetic fibre made from bamboo. Lots of sustainable brands won’t use it/stock it. Of course I’d love to be proved wrong and if I find a certified compostable bamboo I’ll definitely add it!

    • I have some Boody undies and bra. They are so comfy, true to size and are wearing well. A year in of wearing each one weekly and they aren’t showing signs of wear. But… I wouldn’t but again- mostly because of the bamboo issue, but they also have a lot of packaging (all cardboard but still too much imo). They also take a long time to dry. I have bought some cotton undies from organic crew in Melbourne. Made in melbourne, so if you’re local would recommend!

    • I have occasional incontinence so have always bought really cheap knickers in case they end up messy. As my bowels learn to behave themselves maybe I could justify spending a little more. What happens if you get the wrong size? Good post to get me thinking, so thanks!

  2. What about bras? A lot of these ethical companies offer crop tops or similar but well constructed, well fitting bras only seem to be made by the big multinationals and almost certainly have no ethical standards. Does anyone know of any ethical companies?

      • Hi Stephanie, I am totally obsessed with that worm farm post you shared on Instagram! I’m always putting things into the worm farm to see how much gets eaten. My husband had some Etiko shoes that wore out and they are in there (I realised later they do a return and recycle scheme, but then there’s fuel to consider and they don’t yet make them back into new shoes…) It’s like school science experiments, but more fun! :)

  3. I was super excited to read this article until I realised it was only underpants. I’d love to find some options for bras- particularly for someone who is more than a B cup.

  4. Hi, Ive been buying Blessed Earth organic underwear (undies and bras) for our whole family (myself, hubby, our two boys and 1 girl age 8 to 15) for about 12 years now. I highly recommend them. :o)

  5. Fun post, Lindsay – thanks! :) I’ve tried Etiko, Mighty Good Undies and Thunderpants. I use the Etiko bikini style with reusable pads when I have my period and they work well. They’re made of a fairly thin cotton so I can see that they might not last long, but it also makes them really comfortable. I wanted to like the Mighty Good boy-leg style, but I sized up as instructed and they were still teeny tiny and very low rise. Thunderpants are my ride-or-die underpants. I’ve been buying the hipster style for years and they last forever. They rotate their prints too, so it’s fun to see what’s in stock whenever I need a new pair. Hope that helps someone else out there! :)

    • Thanks for sharing Jasmine! I was pretty annoyed about the Mighty Good sizing too, espeically as I’d already placed two orders prior, one for a 10 and one or an 8, so I felt I knew what size I needed – and then the ’10’ that was delivered is more like a 4! And I took the labels / protector pad off without checking the size, because I figured they’d be the same as last time, so I couldn’t return. I love the Thunderpants designs, but the ones that catch my eye are always out of stock by the time I get to the website! Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

  6. Thank you Lindsey for posting this. Late last year I bought underwear from AmaElla lingerie (A UK company based in Cambridge) and I absolutely love them. They are the best knickers I have

  7. Hi Linz!
    PS Sorry I ‘stood you up’ for your Rabble launch (I was exhausted that day & needed a break). I was the guy who got your original decluttering guide just before u removed it online. I did get the new book though & read it, now got a shitload (‘scuse) of decluttering to do, u know the story!
    Anyhow re (men’s) undies, I generally wear cotton boxers as I have a hernia & tight stuff gets sweaty, though I have some funkier ones for going out. I have 3 left & I’ve been nursing them on for years while I was considering better quality options, so your post is a godsend, even though its just women’s gear atm.

    Also wanted to encourage you mob that there are men concerned about this stuff (‘the end of the ‘ etc etc) as well, and not to forget us even though we’re not always able to ‘chat’ about all these deep issues. (I’m a muso/cross-dresser so a bit more in touch with my feminine side I guess?? ).

    ie EAGERLY AWAITING YOUR FOLLOW-UP POST – PLEASE DON’T LEAVE IT TO AFTER SUMMER, CAPICE??

    Thx for hearing me out ‘guys.’

    All the best & God bless, hey?
    Dudley xx

  8. Thanks for this post lindsay…just in need of some new undies. Looking forward to the bra post…..hope you can find something good for bigger sizes that need good support….not easy. Cheers.

  9. I think I’m going to remain unethical with my knickers! Too many of these shapes and styles were a hard no for me. Shame, but hey, just owning it.

    • I’m a big fan of Underprotection! They make sustainable underwear that’s more in the style of lingerie, which I think is really difficult to find elsewhere if it has to be made sustainably

  10. Thank you so much for this! I have been searching everywhere for this kind of information. It’s sometimes hard to get past all of branding and get done to the important details. I look forward to your bra post!

  11. Thanks for posting on this topic, Lindsay! I find Boody and Etiko underwear really comfortable but I have heard about the issues with bamboo fabrics so I think I’ll stick with Etiko now. I tried the Bonds organic underwear but found it doesn’t last as long as the Etiko briefs.

    My Heart Beats Green has some underpants and bras but I haven’t tried them.

    I had a lot of trouble finding an ethical cotton or bamboo maternity/nursing bra and have now ordered one with B Free Australia so I’ll see what that’s like. Same issue with finding supportive sports bras. Looking forward to your post on bras.

  12. Hi there, have you heard of Le Buns? I haven’t tried them but they are an Australian underwear company that says they are ethical, sustainably resources and organic. I am tempted to try them but was wondering if you knew of them and whether they are as good as they say.

    • I got some recently and I’ve got to say they’re great, although I can’t speak to their longevity yet. However, bear in mind I’m quite small chested so I can’t guarantee how they would go with bustier people. They also aren’t padded so if you’re afraid of headlights you may wish to go elsewhere.

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