I've spent hundreds at Girlfriend Collective—these are my 5 favorite pieces
The trendy activewear won me over with its great fit and feel—and commitment to sustainability.
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I was first drawn to Girlfriend Collective when I read the company’s tagline: "Don’t make waste. Wear it." The brand claims to use up to 90% recycled materials in producing its stretchy activewear. As a lover of yoga leggings, solid color clothing, and sustainable practices, I felt like I had found my perfect match—at least when it came to my athletic attire. I bought my first pair of leggings from Girlfriend Collective a few years ago, and over time, I've grown to love the pants—and the brand in general—more and more.
What is Girlfriend Collective?
With over 2.3 million views on TikTok, Girlfriend Collective has become popular on social media for its high quality activewear that's made from recycled plastic water bottles blended with spandex. "It all starts with 100% post-consumer water bottles that have their labels removed, are crushed into billions of miniscule chips, and then washed until they’re sparkling clean," Girlfriend Collective explains. "After a bunch of science stuff with names like 'polymerization,' you get a soft, recycled yarn." The brand says that when you buy its clothing, you’re helping divert plastic from landfills and supporting ethical work environments for factory workers. In 2021 alone, Girlfriend Collective reports that it has recycled 1.7 million water bottles and saved almost 3.5 million gallons of water.
When I found Girlfriend Collective a few years ago, the site mainly sold a few pairs of leggings and a couple of sports bras. The brand has since expanded to offer a large selection of clothing, including outerwear, unitards, skorts, bras and undies, classic T-shirts, and joggers. Thanks to the nature-inspired “essentials” color scheme—which consists of muted neutrals like ivory, moss, and plum—across all styles, you can mix and match everything for tons of outfit options. Girlfriend Collective also releases limited seasonal colorways every couple of months.
What I love about Girlfriend Collective
Besides its focus on sustainability, the biggest draw of Girlfriend Collective for me is its commitment to inclusivity. All of its clothing is available in sizes XS to 6X, and the models on the site are of all races, sizes, genders, and ages. It makes me more comfortable shopping when I see the styles on people whose bodies look like mine. I like that anyone can buy from Girlfriend Collective regardless of their shape, style, or identity.
In addition, Girlfriend Collective has a few other cool perks. One is the Recycled Pink Pouch that the retailer uses for shipping. Instead of sending your items in unnecessary plastic bags, Girlfriend Collective ships them in a pink, zipper cloth pouch that's made of recycled polyester and that can double as a wash bag for your clothing.
Then there's the ReGirlfriend program, which allows you to send in your used Girlfriend Collective clothing to be broken down (again) and recycled into new garments. Not only are you not tossing worn-out clothes in the trash, you’ll receive a $15 store credit for your efforts.
The best things to buy at Girlfriend Collective
My Girlfriend Collective pieces are some of the first things I reach for when I'm picking out an outfit, whether or not I'm going to work out, because they're comfortable to wear all day long. Below are five of my favorite items—all made with the same blend of 90% recycled water bottles and 10% spandex.
1. Float Seamless High-Rise Leggings
My first purchase from Girlfriend Collective was a pair of leggings. They were from a collection called LITE, which seems to be discontinued now. I wore them until they literally wore out and became threadbare on the inner thighs and lost some of their stretchiness, which took just over two years of regular use. The fabric was smooth, stretchy, opaque, and really breathable. Those leggings saw me through months of yoga teacher training and several summers of adventure. I have my fingers crossed the LITE line will come back someday.
I now own a variety of the brand's leggings. My current favorites are the Float Seamless High-Rise Legging, of which I have three pairs (two in black and one in fig, which is a deep rose color). According to Girlfriend Collective, this style is made from 17 plastic water bottles. I'm 5-foot-6 and I like the 28.5-inch inseam, which hits right below my ankles, allowing me to fold them up once for a cuffed, cropped look or leave them longer. (They also come in a 23.75-inch inseam.) The waist, which hits just above my navel, is high enough to wear with a crop top and keeps all of me tucked in, even in downward dog.
These leggings are soft and opaque—they pass the squat test!—and I really like the way they move with my body. The waistband is wide but not tight, so I can breathe comfortably during workouts, walks, and afternoons at my desk. I’ve worn the few pairs I own dozens of times and they haven’t pilled or worn through at all. I think the cut of the legging is too slim through the thighs, so going one size larger was the right choice for me. There are seven colors, a ton of sizes, and two lengths for you to find the right one for your body without skimping on comfort or style.
2. Float High-Rise Bike Short
Last spring, I ordered the black Float High-Rise Bike Short as my first quarantine purchase to bribe myself to go outside more as the weather warmed up. This short is by far my favorite bike short. I’ve tried other brands like Lululemon and Aerie, but the Float short is the best—and claims to save 11 bottles from the landfill.
The stretchy fabric is soft, seamless, and supportive. Like the Float leggings, the waistband doesn’t pinch, which is extra important as these are my go-tos for long bike rides or cycling classes. The bottom of the shorts stay in place and never roll up on my thigh either, which is a big pet peeve. The only thing missing is pockets, but Girlfriend Collective sells a High-Rise Pocket Bike Short (which is currently in my shopping cart).
3. Topanga Bra
I bought the Topanga Bra at a time when I was taking several yoga classes a week—and it was a game-changer in my practice. (I now wear it often on casual days around the house, too.) The stretchy fabric is soft and supportive and the criss-cross adjustable straps are easy to hide under dresses or tanks. The high neckline also provides plenty of coverage and a trendy look. I recommend sizing up as the band is fairly snug.
I love the color (mine is ivory) and cut of this bra, but it isn’t my favorite for classes with a lot of movement. The diagonal cut from the collarbone to armpits doesn't contain my chest the way I need it to during moderate exercise, so it's best suited for lower impact workouts or lounging.
4. Scoop Bralette
The scoop neck of the Girlfriend Collective bralette is generous but still offers plenty of support thanks to the double lining, and I really like the deep V cut of the back. The spandex fabric is very smooth and lays flat and unnoticeable under a T-shirt or sweater, and the elastic at the bottom around the ribcage is wide and comfortable. I don’t wear bras often now that I work from home, but I would definitely buy this bralette again. As with the Topanga Bra, I sized up for the most comfortable fit.
5. Seedling Crew Socks
Anyone who's as much of an earth lover as I am will likely love the Seedling Crew Socks, which say "Please Recycle" in bright colors across the ankle. I bought a pair last year and love wearing them to the farmer’s market or my friends’ houses as a gentle reminder to protect our planet.
The socks, which claim to rescue nearly five water bottles from landfills, are incredibly comfortable because they are just the slightest bit compressive—which helps reduce swelling—and have stretchy ribbing around the top to keep them in place. They come in sizes 1 to 3 (Girlfriend Collective's version of small, medium, and large) and, like the clothes, are made from 90% recycled plastic bottles and 10% spandex, according to the brand.
Should you buy from Girlfriend Collective?
If you like comfortable clothing and want to support a company whose aim is to reduce plastic in landfills and waterways, I give Girlfriend Collective the biggest "yes!" I could give. I’ve been happy with every purchase I’ve made from the brand. The Float High-Rise Leggings are a must-have for anyone like me who lives in leggings and the Scoop Bralette for anyone who detests regular bras. All of the pieces I've bought are so comfortable, I never want to take them off—and some days, never do.
Most items range from $30 to $70, which may feel a little pricey for some budgets. However, Girlfriend Collective makes "slow fashion"—which, as the name suggests, is the opposite of fast fashion, or the inexpensive, trendy items you may only expect to wear for one season (think: Forever 21). It tends to be pricier to cover the cost of sustainably sourcing materials, paying ethical wages, offsetting environmental impacts or shipping, and using high-quality factories for production—all of which Girlfriend Collective aims to do. In my experience, Girlfriend Collective’s clothing is well-made and built to last, making it worth the price. Plus, you can recycle it when you’re done!
Note that shipping tends to take one to two weeks—which feels long in the age of Amazon Prime—but I've found that time frame to be typical of many slow fashion brands. So hurry over to the site and order ASAP—I think you'll find Girlfriend Collective to be worth the wait.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.