Sustainable tights: Tried and tested

Jenessa Williams

Tights are a staple in many of our wardrobes, but also one of the most wasteful garments on the market. We try, test and review some sustainable alternatives. 

Tights—a winter wardrobe staple, but something that many of us go through in abundance. Whether it’s a snag in the leg, a hole in the toe, or a sagging around the waist, the average lifespan of a pair of tights is often only a couple of wears.

Unfortunately, when those tights hit the bin, it’ll be at least another 30 to 40 years before they biodegrade. With a staggering 225 million pairs selling in the UK alone in 2018, it’s a worrying contributor to fast fashion that is often overlooked.

Luckily, there are clever folk all over the world who are applying the production habits of sustainable clothing to the tights industry. But are they really worth the investment? We put three sustainable brands to the test to see how they stacked up to our habitual hosiery…

 

Swedish Stockings

Dotted Doris tights by Swedish Stockings

Making their products from 100 per cent recycled or sustainable materials, Swedish Stockings are currently at the top of every trendy tight list. And for good reason—when they’re on, you would never know that their spotty 40-denier "Doris" conscious pantyhose (above) were made from recycled yarn and elastane, in a solar-powered factory.

The medium size perhaps comes up slightly smaller than the other brands, but it’s a sensation that feels supportive and sleek, a great way to experiment with pattern in a way that still feels grown-up. In this thinner material, it is inevitable that they may be more prone to snags, but with careful handwashing in a delicates bag, as suggested, they should have a long life.

Priced at €23, these tights price comparably for the market, with various socks and knee-highs also available. Best of all, if you’re looking to completely restock your tights drawer, your old pairs can be recycled by post to the Swedish Stockings team, irrespective of brand, and you’ll receive 10 per cent off your next shop.

 

Heist

Heist tights come in a range of skintones, reviewed

London-start up Heist claim a revolutionary approach to tights and shapewear, with HeroPanel™ technology that lightly compresses to smooth and sculpt the body.

Pulling on a pair of their signature nude range, we’re suitably impressed. Not only does the gusset-free design minimise sagging, and the thick waistband clings nicely, but the colour matches perfectly—a rare skin tone find for mixed-race and black women.

The pop socks fare just as well, a comfy summer alternative to a full leg. Tights are £21 and socks are £10, which feels very appropriate for the quality.

Again, Polyamide does feature, but only at 64 per cent, with the brand's commitment to bettering their output by 2022 in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption clearly displayed on their website, as well as plans for a free global recycling programme.

Where Heist perhaps can be criticised, is their slightly excessive packaging—there is no denying that everything feels beautiful and chic, but when socks are packed in a paper sleeve, and then a box, and then a plastic package, FSC certified paper or not, they may wish to consider a slightly more pared-back approach. 

Until then, the socks, in particular, make a particularly luxurious-feeling gift, with a second-to-none nude match. We’ll be snapping up their shaping bodysuits next…

 

Snag

snag tights in bright colours reviewed

Cosy and colourful, Snag has earnt a name for themselves through social media thanks to their size inclusivity, with products to fit from a size 4 to 36.

While the tights themselves still consist of a traditional high-polyamide blend, the brand seek to do their bit for sustainability with minimal packaging (tights arrive in recyclable paper bags), and a good elastane content which will minimise the effects of their very own brand name.

With a huge range of colours to choose from, their autumnal hues integrate well into a work wardrobe, with the 80-denier "Pumpkin Spice" and 5-denier "Hot Chocolate" being particular favourites.

Each pair feels smooth and silky to the touch, and of course, snag-resistant, with plenty of room to pull up for a high-waisted fit. Priced at £6.99, they’re also highly affordable and collectable, with plenty of limited edition patterns and styles to choose from, including "chub rub" shorts—a godsend in the summer months. 

Although they made not be made from traditionally sustainable fibres, Snag is a good lesson in achieving less waste by buying better.

 

The verdict

While the elastic-needing properties of tights make it hard to achieve 100 per cent eco-friendliness, these three brands are all making great steps in the right direction for sustainability.

None will disappoint on quality or price—choose Swedish Stockings for your blacks and basics, Heist for your nudes and Snag for your colourful looks…you’ll never need instantly disposable high street hosiery again.

 

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