So You Want to Launch a Swimwear Line?
Learning how to design your own swimwear line is very similar to designing any other type of line.
Each designer must complete the following steps for a successful launch:
Know Your Why
Good designers design within a niche. Great designers solve problems and fill voids in the market. What made you want to start a swimwear line? Do you have trouble finding affordable swimsuits for your body type? Is there an aesthetic that you can’t find in the market? Do you want to design adjustable swimsuits for the disabled? Clarifying your mission will make marketing and branding so much easier!
Market/ Design Research
This can happen either before or after you discover your “why.” Your market research will guide you in choosing the right niche and the right target customer. Market research comes in many variations– the broader the research, the better the result. Let’s say you want to specialize in monokinis for plus-sized women. You might start with industry research and choose a price-point. Then you’d identify your direct competitors and study their target client.
Next is your design research, which feeds off of your prior market research. Shopping competitor’s lines, gathering styles from your personal collection, or borrowing suits from friends are great ways to gather references for quality and construction. Don’t forget that these samples should match your desired price point!
Surveys are another great tool! Ask your friends and family about their swimwear conundrums. You’ll be surprised how many ideas you get by learning from others’ sartorial experiences! Fit is EVERYTHING in swimwear design and we live in a day where body-positivity is becoming the norm. As an emerging designer, it’s your responsibility to design for inclusivity!
Develop a Marketing Strategy
A killer marketing strategy is KEY! Knowing your why will help you establish your brand’s identity. We always advise our clients to start designing their website, building their email list, and growing a social media following BEFORE the launch. You’ll thank us later when the pre-sales start rolling in!
Source Your Fabrics
Next is the fun part! FABRIC SOURCING. Swimsuits are made primarily of polyester, nylon, or polyamide and mixed with part lycra, spandex or elastane. Sustainable swimsuit materials are hard to find since stretch is such an important component– but not impossible! It all depends on your priorities.
Like lingerie, swimwear is very technical, so there are a few qualities that fabrics MUST have in order to function properly:
- 4-Way Stretch-
Stretch each fabric as you shop for your collection. Swimsuits are stretched vertically and horizontally across the body which is why fabrics must stretch both parallel and perpendicular to the fabric’s grain line. This goes for lining fabric as well. Tricot knit and power net are common lining fabrics.
This is important for quality and durability. A good quality bathing suit should “bounce” back after being stretched. If a fabric swatch starts to look flimsy after you’ve stretched it, take that as a warning sign!
This is especially relevant for multi-colored print fabrics. The print should still be visually appealing while stretched– since swimsuits are stretched as we wear them.
Pick a Distribution Channel
Choosing your distribution channels before production will give you a better idea of retail costs. Online stores are always more cost-efficient than traditional wholesale routes.
Refer back to your inspiration and research when developing your line. If you’re not an experienced designer, we’d suggest working with a technical designer to illustrate your ideas in a way that patternmakers and sample-makers can understand. Plus, you’ll receive more accurate quotes with a detailed, technical sketch versus a rough, hand-drawn sketch.
This leads us to the most crucial step in swimwear—choosing the right manufacturer (which we can introduce you to, on one of our manufacturing tours). Since swimwear is a world of its own, I’d suggest partnering with factories who specialize in this niche. They can recommend the best finishes/construction for your designs and they’ll have the proper equipment for the best execution!
Learning How to Design Your Own Swimwear Line is Always Easier With a Coach!
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