road-tested: 7 ethical and sustainable activewear brands

*ROAD-TESTED is a new series where I test products for at least 1 to 3 months. I’ll only be doing these road-tested reviews each yearly quarter. This series is different from my standard reviews, as my standard review focuses on one product, while road-tested will focus on a category of products. Next, in the series, Vegan shoes which aren’t sneakers!)

 

Hi 2020! Ain’t ya’ll glad 2019 is over? Time for new starts. New habits. And then letting it all fall by February! Which happens to be a week away – only a week. Damn

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It’s pretty trendy to hate on resolutions, but I LOVE resolutions. Admittedly, I don’t ever wait until January 1st to start making plans, but I often find myself making resolutions and starting resolutions sometime in October. Perhaps, it’s just me being impatient?

One of my resolutions I gave myself in 2020 was to keep up with a regular workout routine. Did someone say pumpkin spice latte??? Yeah, it’s a generic as freak, but, my state of mind is infinitely better when I’m active and what better way to be eco than to look after your health inside and out!

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I’m a huge flake when it comes to life, but I’m the biggest flake when it comes to exercising. I wake up in the mornings not wanting to be uncomfortable. The thought of discomfort literally keeps me in bed. I. DO. NOT. ENJOY. WORKING. OUT. But dude, yes dude, I feel so much better afterwards!

One of the things that has helped me get out of bed in the mornings, is actually wearing activewear when I go to bed. I don’t do this all the time. But I do it A LOT and even if it seems a little childish, it really does help!

SO! I tested out 6 different activewear brands over the last few months. And when I say tested, I mean I went into a lab and tested it. Okay, I don’t mean that. But I really put it through the wringer – I exercised in it, washed it a dozen or more times, slept in it and done my grocery shopping in it. They’ve gone through the “general life test”.

I know, I know, I know. You can totally buy your activewear secondhand. BUT if you are looking for activewear brands that have a conscious, then continue reading my friend. Yes, I called you my friend. So, now you have to be my friend. I’m incredibly clingy.

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What are the 7 brands you say?

    1. girlfriend collective
    2. organic basics
    3. pansy
    4. vyayama
    5. boody
    6. sezane
    7. everlane (not in this review! Once I receive them I’ll start testing them out and update this post)

Yes, Sezane actually has an activewear range, but more on that later. Please note that most of these items were gifted to me (excluding Sezane), but in no way will this influence the review. Unless someone paid me a lot of money then I may be a little loose with my morals.

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No? Okay!

Now, back to the review. Each item of “activewear” will go through a certain number of tests, these tests are:

> sweat-mark test
> squat-proof test
> camel-toe test
> quality test
> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size? does it hug the belly?)
> how it feels when exercising test
> the wash test

For my squat test I’ll be wearing red underwear. Which is probably TMI but it’ll give you a good idea of how sheer or not a pair of leggings are. For reference this is the colour red I’m wearing. It’s the same colour with the black trimming. Yes! It’s a top! It’s actually from the same brand – Hopeless Lingerie, but they don’t sell the underwear in this colour style anymore and I can’t be bothered taking a picture of it >_< (soz)

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When I first received my items I actually did take photos, but a few months ago I deleted them in my deleting-all-my-photos haze. I don’t actually have an unboxing of each of these! But alas an unboxing isn’t all that interesting anyway!

girlfriend collective

If you’re interested in sustainability and fitness you’ve almost certainly heard of Girlfriend Collective.

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Girlfriend Collective has an inclusive sizing range, ranging from: XXS to an 6XL. PLUS, their line is made from recycled water bottles. In fact, one pair of leggings saves 25 water bottles from the landfill! As their line is made from recycled plastic, you should probably use a Guppy bag or a microfibre ball.

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I have affiliate links to them here:
> GuppyFriend
> Microfibre ball

I actually use both of these at home!

My first impressions of Girlfriend Collective was the quality and the fact it actually came in a cute little bag. The bag is completely irrelevant to the review, but I appreciated the fact that the bag was embroidered

Okay, enough chit chat. Now to the review!

> sweat-mark test

I’ll start off my saying I’m a huge butt and thigh sweater. I barely ever sweat, but butt and thighs??? It’s a freaking waterfall. So, this test is pretty huge for me.

I think the fabric is thick enough and dark enough that it’s pretty difficult to see any butt or sweat marks. I haven’t had any issues, during my HIIT workouts! No butt or thigh sweat presence.

For the sake of testing though, here’s what a water stain would look like:

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> squat-proof test

Nothing to see here! Legit, as you can see there’s no “thinning” around the butt. You can squat in ease my human friends! See the image below to see how it looks while squatting. You don’t need to correct my form. I’m just horrible at everything unless it’s the Asian squat. (I totally wasn’t going to post these squatting photos, because they felt so unflattering, but I did it anyway. I guess who really cares? And what better way to show if they are squat-proof)?

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gosh, is this going to end up in some porno or fetish site?

> camel-toe test

No camel. Winning! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

I generally find that leggings with this little bit in the crotch area tends to prevent camel toe!

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> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size?)

For reference I got an extra small in the leggings and I’m 5 foot 3 inches.

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The XS was a good fit for me. I definitely wouldn’t have gone a size smaller. But, I probably could have sized up with a small.

While the fit is great, it’s a bit of a hop and a jump dance to get these babies on. Taking them off rest assured is easy. So, if you need a quick pee stop, you don’t need to worry.

> how it feels when exercising test

The leggings hold you nice and snug and although it’s a bitch to put on, it’s not at all tight and is super easy to work out in. Definitely recommend!

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen?)

The leggings have been washed over a dozen times and are probably over 4 months old. Still just a new born! But in clothing world, I guess not. These have been worn a lot and it’s held up really well. Here are some photos:

Out of the bunch, the Girlfriend leggings are probably my favourite in quality and how it feels while training. They are super comfortable. If you are going to buy a pair, these are the one I would recommend for leggings!

I also received a sports bra/ crop top from Girlfriend Collective and I’m not the biggest of it. It could be that I have a larger rib cage for my size, but there’s a lot of side boob going on. And while, I have a larger rib cage, I have a rather small chest. There are other styles on the website, but the one I tried out was the topanga bra – I do not recommend this style. The “Paloma Bra” could probably remedy the side boob action, but I did not get to test out that particular style out.

Here’s what the topanga bra looks like.

Midnight Topanga Bra

organic basics

You’ve probably seen this brand on my blog before, mostly because I’m an affiliate of theirs! Don’t worry, it’s not going to influence this review. (Or is it? Nah, it won’t bro). Their activewear line is made from recycled nylon and sizes ranges from XS to XL. Like the Girlfriend leggings, these will also need to be wash with either a guppy bag or a microfibre ball to help reduce the amount of micro-plastics going into the water.

SilverTech™ Active Leggings

> sweat-mark test

This test is probably pointless because the leggings are black. But I haven’t found that I overly butt or thigh sweat in these so that’s a bonus!

> squat-proof test

Sometimes, with black leggings the light can make the fabric look sheer and then bam! Everyone sees your underwear. These are pretty close to passing the squat-proof test. You can only slightly see my bright red underwear. And guys, talk about the level of detail in this post. I wore bright red underwear ON PURPOSE for this shoot! (And pretty much stood in direct light).

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> camel-toe test

No camel toe folks! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size?)

Unlike the Girlfriend leggings these leggings are incredibly easy to put on and easy to take off. They still have some firmness to them, but they don’t hold you “in” or in place like the Girlfriend leggings do. These are probably second in line in terms of leggings. I’ve worn these a couple of times for hiking and I really like these for outdoor walks and hikes over the Girlfriend ones. They are really sturdy and I’ve scaled up and down rocks with these and they didn’t tear or snag on anything at all. Plus, they are a little more “breathable” and when you are hiking for 5 hours, that’s pretty important.

For reference I got an S/M, although I probably could have gone the XS/S. I read online that it ran small, so I sized up. But honestly, I think it’s pretty true to size.

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> how it feels when exercising test

The Organic Basics leggings as I mentioned, is great for the outdoors and “endurance” activities. I think because they are slightly more comfortable and breathable than the Girlfriend ones. BUT I still recommend Girlfriend leggings for HIIT workouts or for weights, as the Organic Basics ones aren’t as snug or are not like compression leggings.

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen)

Here are some photos of what these leggings look like today! These have gone through the wash A LOT and are probably my most worn leggings as I also go walking and hiking in them. I know, I know, how can I recommend the Girlfriend ones and wear these ones more? I think it’s because the Girlfriend leggings are so good for working out and just feel more dynamic, BUT if you are more of an outdoors person, my pick would be these Organic Basic ones.

SilverTech™ Active Sports Bra

I also had a sports bra which I got to try out and I love the bra! Admittedly, if you have a larger chest I wouldn’t recommend it as it won’t give you support if you’re larger than a C. But I’m fluctuate between an A and an B. So, this bra was just super comfortable.

(I have an affiliate code for 10% off CATOBC4).

pansy

Perhaps you’re not a huge fan of synthetic fibres and prefer to stick to cotton?

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Pansy is an USA brand and its line is made from cotton – grown directly in the USA. Pansy is a small brand, so show them some support – but because they are a small brand their sizing only ranges from S to XL.

> sweat-mark test

Full disclaimer, I’ve yet to wear this out for a gym workout, mostly because of the colour, I’m a little concerned over how the sweat marks would appear. I’ve worn these on long walks, as I tend to not sweat walking and there were only little bits of sweat marks on the band of the leggings.

Here’s what it would look like with some water on it. I was actually a little surprise as it took a lot of water to show these water “stains”. And it appears to dry very quickly.

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> camel-toe test

No camel toe folks! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

> squat-proof test

As you can see I’m wearing my bright red underwear again. These don’t quite pass the squat test

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> quality test

I’ve found the quality of these leggings very good and they are held up really well in the wash.

I’ve worn their bras along with the Organic Basics sport bra pretty much all the time. Their bras aren’t as comfortable, but they really hold you in place!

> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size? does it hug the belly?)

For reference, I got a small in both the top and leggings. I would say their sizing is pretty true to size and are great for lounging around the house in!

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen)

I honestly don’t think I would recommend these for gym workouts or HIIT workouts, but they are sooooo comfortable and I honestly wear them at home a lot. I think if you are doing a yoga or pilates workout these would be great! Or even if you just wear them at home or to bed. (Which I have done many times!)

I definitely recommend their bras for working out it.

vyayama

Vyayama is another USA brand! Their sizes range from XS to L and a majority of their leggings are made from 85% Cupro 10% Polyamide 5% Elastane. Cupro-elastane is an innovative botanical cellulose fibre. These leggings probably fall on the “upper” end of the activewear scale (at $125 USD), but their leggings are so beautifully made.

> sweat-mark test

AGAIN – This test is probably pointless because the leggings are black. But I haven’t found that I overly butt or thigh sweat in these so that’s a bonus!

> camel-toe test

REPEAT PETE. No camel toe folks! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

> squat-proof test

Are you tired of my butt yet? There’s only the slightest of sheers around the butt area while doing a squat. Seriously though, that red underwear is making those leggings work hard!

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> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size? does it hug the belly?)

For reference I got a size XS/S.

They do seem to run true to size, so I wouldn’t size up or down! They also sit comfortably around the belly AND are super stretchy. And because they are super stretchy, I think if you sized down it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

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> how it feels when exercising test

These leggings kinda fall mid-range. I sometimes, forget that I have these. But they are super comfortable to exercise in, PLUS they do look good on. If you’re looking for activewear with some beautiful detailing on it then I would definitely recommend. I also got to try out their sports bra and was a huge fan. I took about the padding in it as it did move around heaps, but after I remove them, they were really good! (Probably not suitable for those with a larger chest).

 

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen)

Vyayama does fall on the expensive side of activewear and I would even classify it as booshie. The quality on the leggings and bras are great, and I love the detailing on them. If you have dollars to spare I would definitely try them out.

 

boody

Gosh, so many American brands, you’re thinking. What about Australia mate? Don’t worry, I got you buddy.

Boody is an Australian brand and a majority of their pieces are basics made from organic bamboo (around 80% and 20% elastane). Their size ranges from XS to XL

> sweat-mark test

REPEAT PETE – This test is probably pointless because the leggings are black. But I haven’t found that I overly butt or thigh sweat in these so that’s a bonus!

> camel-toe test

REPEAT PETE. No camel toe folks! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

> squat-proof test

So far, all the black leggings on this list have some sort of sheer-ness to them. But just like all of them, the see-through-ness is barely noticeable and you would really need to stare and look hard to see what type of underwear I’m wearing. So, you are totally a perv for staring. Stop staring at my butt!

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> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size? does it hug the belly?)

For reference I got a size small and I would say this is pretty close to true-to-size, it might even run on the slightly smaller side. An XS would have been too small. So, if in doubt for Boody, size up not down.

> how it feels when exercising test

I was fortunate enough to try out a few of their items, including short, top and socks. While the Boody leggings did kinda get lost with all the other leggings (as I admittedly had my favourites) – I would definitely recommend if you are looking for natural fibre activewear. The leggings are genuinely comfortable and the waist band didn’t roll down or fold down on my belly when exercising.

My favourite were the bike shorts and I love working out in them or doing high intensity cardio in the bike shorts. The socks are freaking awesome, which is a weird thing to critique, but I definitely recommend their socks. I would actually spend my hard earn cash for these two items.

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen)

The quality of the socks, bike shorts and leggings is seriously impressive! I like wearing Boody for HIIT workouts as they feel a little breezier. The brand admittedly does get lost against the “flasher” brands, but if you’re looking for no-frills, good-quality and simple loungewear or activewear, then I would give Boody a go.

sezane

Sezane has an activewear line? I was surprised too. But they do! You know what’s even a bigger shock? I actually like them!

These leggings are made from at 50% recycled materials which is pretty neat. AND it’s super cute. But can cuteness win over functionality and practicality?

> sweat-mark test

So, let’s just be straight. I’ve worn these leggings a few times and each time I’ve gotten compliments! But I shouldn’t base my decisions on compliments, ALTHOUGH, girl loves a compliment on her outfits. Just don’t compliment me, just my clothes. Okay? Got it? Any way. I’ve done some pretty hard workouts in these and I haven’t had any issues with sweat marks.

However, here’s a photo of what a water stain would look like on the leggings.

> squat-proof test

These legging surprisingly passed the sheer test. You can’t see my bright red underwear underneath.

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> camel-toe test

REPEAT PETE. No camel toe folks! (Please note there are three photos, one with leggings just as they are, one standing up, and one with leggings pulled right up)

> how it fits (i.e. is it small to size? does it hug the belly?)

I got a size small and I feel like these where the right size for me, although they are a little loose on my ankles. These are the only pair of leggings on this list that had this issue. Other than that they run true to size. (I tend to fall between a XS to S). So, if you oscillate between sizes, I would go with the larger size.

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> how it feels when exercising test

Okay, you’ve probably over the “cuteness” talk, but the look and feel of these leggings are pretty darn good! Exercising in them is also pretty comfortable – ALTHOUGH – while the waist band sits nicely and snug on my stomach, it does fold or roll down (once) when you’re moving up and down (i.e. doing a burpee). If you’re doing burpees galore then and don’t particularly like your leggings rolling then I wouldn’t recommend. Other than that, I haven’t had any issues exercising in these spotted leggings!

> quality test (first and “last” impression, how it is after a wash or a dozen)

These have been through the wash a few times, and the photos shows how it’s held up! The stitching and quality is pretty up there, although the white spots do look like they are painted/printed on. I’m curious to see how these spots actually hold up and whether or not they “flake” off. If they do start to flake, I’ll let you guys know!

Everlane

(coming soon)!

Overall thoughts?

Wouldn’t you like to know!!

I’ll keep my overall thoughts short because this is a freaking long blog post. I honestly, felt each pair of leggings had its strong and weak points. If I were to recommend a “gym” legging it would be Girlfriend Collective.

If you’re more of an outdoors type of person I would recommend Organic Basics. But I definitely recommend the sports bra! (I have an affiliate code for 10% off CATOBC4).

If you purely looking for good leggings that are cute, the Sezane ones will do the job!

If you are looking for fancy activewear with beautiful detailing then Vyayama would be my pick!

Pansy leggings are super comfortable, and are perfect for yoga or lounging around the house. I admittedly use these to sleep in all the time when it isn’t so warm!

If you’re after something a bit closer to home, then Boody would be my pick. In particular, their bike shorts and socks! I would also recommend if you’re looking for activewear that utilises natural fibres as a majority of their line is made from organic bamboo.

Everlane? Well, I can’t tell you yet! But once I’ve tested them out thoroughly I’ll update this blog post!