Girlfriend Collective + Review

In December 2018, Girlfriend Collective finally extended their size range to include up to XXXL in their bras and 6XL in their compressive leggings, high-rise bike shorts, and classic-rise run shorts. The remainder of their line is offered in eight sizes ranging from XXS to XXXL.

I ordered the Compressive High-Rise Leggings in Smoke in a size 4XL with a 23.75-inch inseam and the Classic Paloma Bra in Smoke in a size XXXL.

My friend and photographer Yuli (pictured with me) ordered the Compressive High-Rise Leggings in Rose Quartz in size XXXL with a 28.5-inch inseam.

I followed Girlfriend Collective’s Size Chart to select my size. Since they had just released their new size range there were no reviews for me to help guide my decision. I knew when I decided on the 4XL that I would probably have a bit of extra room in the waist, but I ordered them to fit my largest part—my hips. It turned out using the size chart alone was enough and I ended up with exactly what I had expected—a good fit around my hips and a slightly loose fit at my waist.

Despite the slightly loose-fitting waist, these leggings do not roll down. I repeat: they DO NOT roll down. A miracle, really. I have never owned a pair of leggings that have literally never rolled down on me. That said, they do slip occasionally and need to be pulled up. I’m assuming this is primarily due to the slightly loose fit around my waist. If I was to order from Girlfriend Collective again I might try sizing down to the XXXL.

Fortunately, Yuli hasn’t had the same trouble with the leggings slipping. They describe their leggings as “the only leggings I’ve ever had that stay up/require minimal pulling up. And that’s a pretty big selling factor for me in a pant in general, but especially for a workout pant.” As you can see from the photos, Yuli’s leggings are a little baggy in the leg/knee area—something to be aware of if you have a similar body-type.

The Girlfriend Collective compressive leggings are incredibly soft. Without a doubt the softest exercise leggings I have ever felt. They almost feel like you are wearing a second skin. And they look like it too. Meaning, they show everything—every dimple, every crease, every fold. While that isn’t a deal breaker for me, it might be for you.

Not only are they soft, but they are also perfectly opaque even in the lighter colours (although the Girlfriend Collective website indicates they are not completely opaque in Ivory). Standing up, sitting down, bending over—there is no seeing through these bad boys.

I am 5’6″ and I decided on the 23.75″ inseam because I hate when leggings bunch at my ankle. As you can see from the photos, the leggings hit above my ankle—exactly what I wanted. Yuli, on the other hand, is 6′ tall and often has the opposite problem. They said the 28.5″ inseam—which hits above their ankle—is “shockingly good on a tall person”. Happy as two clams, we are.

The Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra is soft and supportive. It’s the type of bra I could comfortably wear all day, every day. Again, I used the Size Chart to select my size. My chest circumference is a 43-inch, so I wear between a 42-inch and a 44-inch band size depending on the brand. My cup size ranges anywhere from a DD to an I. While the arm cutouts are slightly larger than I would like and allow some breast/underarm fat to spill out the sides, I have never felt as though my entire breast could spill out. The bra itself isn’t padded, so your nipples may show through the fabric.

I would recommend the Paloma Bra primarily for low-to-medium intensity workouts (i.e. walking, yoga, pilates, weight training). I wouldn’t suggest it for high-intensity cardio workout or running unless you can already do those types of workouts comfortably without a bra.

According to the Girlfriend Collective size chart, the Paloma Bra in XXXL will fit up to a 46B. Because of how the XXXL bra fits me, I am slightly skeptical of this claim. While the garment may technically fit up to a 46B, I believe the crop-top style of the bra would be compromised and there could be significant breast/underarm spillage out of the arm cutouts. These are assumptions based on how the bra fits me and my #fatallover body. I’d love to hear from anyone who has larger than a 44-inch chest circumference who has tried the Paloma Bra—slide into that comment section.

One of the things I noticed while reading other Girlfriend Collective reviews is that most of them read like a press release. This is probably because the information provided is either copied directly from a press release or from the Girlfriend Collective website. As much as I might want to, it’s not really my thing to outright believe what companies tell me. While it is incredibly difficult to dispute Girlfriend Collective’s claims from my couch in Toronto, I wanted to investigate and interrogate their claims to see how they hold up.

This is where shit is going to get contentious because I’m about to disagree with just about every other review of Girlfriend Collective posted online.

Are Girlfriend Collective leggings eco-friendly?

Eeehhh. It’s complicated?

The compressive leggings are made of 79% recycled polyester (RPET) and 21% spandex. According to Girlfriend Collective, the 79% recycled polyester is made from 25 post-consumer waste plastic bottles at a factory in Taiwan that is owned by a Taiwanese family. Their process of turning plastic bottles into fabric reportedly uses less water and less electricity than it does to produce new polyester.

Unfortunately, like all synthetic materials, polyester and spandex release tiny microplastic pollution into the water stream when washed. Standard washing machines don’t currently have the ability to filter the tiny particles, nor do water treatment facilities. So this microplastic pollution finds its way into our oceans where it is inevitably ingested by marine life.

Are Girlfriend Collective leggings more eco-friendly than the leggings you would buy at Hyba, Nike, or Old Navy? Yeah, sure. Are they eco-friendly? I would hesitate to call them that without major caveats.

Are Girlfriend Collective leggings sustainable?

No. Given all the information provided by Girlfriend Collective, without hesitation, no.

Girlfriend Collective is headquartered in Seattle, the RPET fabric made in Taiwan, the leggings manufactured in Vietnam, and shipped from Hong Kong to customers in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Girlfriend Collective don’t describe how the fabric is shipped from Taiwan to Vietnam to Hong Kong. They don’t describe their distribution centre. They don’t describe what they are doing to offset the carbon footprint of shipping their products almost around the world.

Not to mention, Girlfriend Collective’s sustainability model relies on the continued use of single-use clear plastic bottles. Is this really what we want an eco-friendly sustainable company to be basing their claims of sustainability on?

Are Girlfriend Collective leggings ethically made?

Potentially? Partially? Probably not.

The compressive leggings are manufactured in a factory in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to the Girlfriend Collective, the facility, which opened in 2005, is owned and operated by a Danish family who has been in the textile industry since 1931. The factory is SA8000 certified, which means it adheres to standards set forth by Social Accountability International and is audited regularly to ensure compliance. Elements of the SA8000 standard include child labour, forced or compulsory labour, health and safety, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, and remuneration. Girlfriend Collective’s pay scale starts 25% above the local minimum wage and they provide health insurance to the employees of their Vietnam factory.

The minimum wage in Vietnam depends on region and ranges from $125 USD to $180 USD per month. Girlfriend Collective’s pay scale starts at 25% over the minimum wage and is therefore between $156.25 USD and $225 USD per month. In 2018 the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour surveyed 3000 employees across 150 businesses in Vietnam and found the average employee’s minimum monthly spending was $280 USD. This means employees have to work overtime to make ends meet.

Does stressing about working overtime to make ends meet sound like a livable wage to you? Because it doesn’t to me.

I also find it suspicious that Girlfriend Collective only discuss the SA8000 certification for their Vietnam factory. What about the Taiwanese factory? Or their Hong Kong distribution centre? What about the people who collect and sort the post-consumer waste bottles? These are all parts of their supply chain that remain a complete mystery.

I almost feel as though Girlfriend Collective is trying to overwhelm us with the minutiae of SA8000 while leaving a large part of their business practices as opaque as their leggings.

Would I buy Girlfriend Collective leggings again?


Overall I’d say the Girlfriend Collective leggings are high-quality and well-made with excellent attention to detail. I’m interested to see how well they hold up comparative to my Nike and Old Navy leggings—both of which have lasted years.

That being said, it really gets to me when companies claim to be completely transparent but are in reality only slightly transparent. Is Girlfriend Collective comparatively better than Nike or Old Navy when it comes to being eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethical? Yeah, sure. Probably. After cursory research do I feel like my purchase is saving the ocean from plastic bottle waste and that I am buying from a company that pays all the employees in their supply chain a liveable wage? Not so much.

According to the Girlfriend Collective Instagram account, they will be restocking in February. Are you interested in trying a pair of Girlfriend Collective leggings? What do you think about their claims of transparency and sustainability? Is greenwashing something that bothers you?

Photos by Yuli Scheidt.