Ultimate Guide to Ethically Made Sportswear Brands

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Written By Suzan

Being active is part of who I am. I do weight training and I run. I train every day, few times a week even twice a day – weight training in the morning and running in the evening. This means that I spend at least 1 hour a day in my performance clothing. I try to make better choices when it comes to spending my money in all areas of my life from food to clothes, so it frustrating to realise that nearly all the top-quality performance gear is manufactured in China. I find it ironic when I see products with labels like “Made with care in China.”

I understand that the best gear is made by large corporations because they have financial resources to invest in development and testing, along with a lot of experience gained over the years. This all makes sense. But it bothers me to see corporations promoting their efforts to improve carbon footprint, ethics and sustainability while their main goal is profit. They have relocated production to Asia for cheaper costs, only to maximise profits. They only give a tiny portion of these profits to help others and make themselves look good. With  this tactic they want to convince people that they are making the world better, encouraging them to keep buying from the brand.

But in reality, if they truly cared about people and communities, they wouldn’t prioritise profits by moving all production to China. Instead, they would stay local, provide jobs to the community and try to make a real impact on a smaller scale. Imagine what it would be like if all those big companies stayed in their local communities or at least in the same country. It would make a huge difference for local people. I’m sure they would still make money, but maybe not as much as they do now. But that is not what investors really care about.

Alright, back to the topic of better made activewear or ethical sportswear. I asked my followers about it and I did a research myself. There are a few brands out there that prioritise these values and produce their goods in countries where we can hope for better quality and where workers are treated well.

I made a list of brands that I have found so far and might want to check out. Most of them are making performance clothing. Some of them also have their own sneakers but they produce them in Asia. I only found 3 brands that manufacture performance running shoes in Europe. 

Circle Sportswear, a French brand in Paris, makes running shoes entirely manufactured in EU. Designed in Italy and made in Portugal, they use materials like recycled plastic bottles, polyamide, elastane, and micro modal – a fabric made from wood in Austria. And the other two brands are from Italy and manufacturing in Italy. Scarpa producing trail Running shoes and Diadora making running shoes. It seems that even Diadora has some models made overseas. They put a “Made in Italy” badge on some products, but for a few others like their carbon plate racing shoe, it’s unclear where they’re made. If there’s no “Made in Italy” badge, I assume they’re made overseas.

Here is my list of ethically made sportswear brands and location of their production facilities:

Here are a few more brands to consider. Some of their products are made in Europe, while others are made overseas. If you care about where your items are produced make sure to pay attention when ordering from them:

  • Soar – The majority of our garments are crafted in Europe, primarily Portugal, Italy and Lithuania with a small manufacturing base in China making the remainder.

The problem is that they don’t mark on each product where it was made. So it’s hard to know how much is made in the EU and how much in China.

  • Runamics – C2C Shorts: Germany/Poland – Merino parts: Germany/China/Portugal – Tights and Croptop: Italy/Portugal – C2C Pyoneer parts: Germany/Tunisia – C2C Cotton parts: India

C2C shorts, Tights and Croptop are entirely made in EU but other items are made by steps in different countries so I would be careful there.

This blog post will be a continuous work in progress. I intend to update it every few months with new information about these brands or if I discover a new one. If you know another brand leave a comment below or send me an email.

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