Following years of a pandemic that forced travelers and beach lovers to rethink their vacation plans, the world and its borders are finally starting to open back up again. With warmer months swiftly approaching, consumers are now not only reaching for their resort wear and beach attire again, but also looking for that newness in the same categories. Combining consumers’ pent-up travel demand with the desire for novelty in their closets, there’s no wonder that the swimwear market continues to gain traction.
Statista estimates the global swimwear market to reach a value of 29.1 billion U.S dollars by 2025, and both established brands and start-ups are hoping to break in and take share. Skims and Fabletics, two brands that have been key players on the lounge- and activewear market for a long time, both launched swimwear in 2022. Here, we will take a closer look at rising stars in the category, the trends that are shaping it, and of course, consumer demand and data.
Consumers are more ready than ever for some escapist fashion and new trends oceanside, but specifically which silhouettes and details are taking the lead? One thing is for certain - statement swimwear is here. Bikinis and swimsuits are no longer an afterthought in a suitcase, but have become a main event for consumers' vacation wardrobes. In fact, many consumers consider swimwear as appropriate for the party as it is poolside.
Frankies Bikinis is a brand that has been on top of consumers’ minds for quite some time now, and they are continuing to grow - searches for ‘Frankie Bikini’ are up 7% since last year. They recently launched a collaboration with Gigi Hadid, and the line is all about what just might be the most fun trend of the season - ruffles. The ruffled swim trend has taken Hollywood by storm, and has been spotted on stars like Sydney Sweeney and Emily Ratajkowski. This playful trend is timed perfectly - we could all use something whimsical and dreamlike after living with travel restrictions for so long.
Equally playful is the second trend we are focusing on - crochet. Seen on the runways of high-end designers like Anna Sui, Zimmerman and Missoni in bright colors and fun color blocking, crochet draws attention like few other materials. Buzzy brands like Cult Gaia and Akoia Swim have also hopped on the trend, and consumers are totally on board with this - global searches for ‘crochet bikini’ are up 13% vs 2020.
A classic one-piece never goes out of style - or does it? Although nothing gives elegant straight off the Amalfi coast-vibes like a high cut one-piece suit, it’s the two-piece bikinis that are taking the lead. One-piece swimwear only comprised 17% of total swim assortment in Q1 of 2022 and is on a downward trend compared to 23% in Q1 of 2020.
Sustainability is a prevailing topic in the fashion industry as a whole, and the swimwear category is no exception - and it shouldn’t be. Swimwear has to endure significantly harsher conditions than our ready-to-wear (like saltwater, sun exposure and abrasion of waves and sand). In order to stand up to these elements and also to last through repeated uses and washes, bikinis and bathing suits are manufactured by synthetic materials like nylon, spandex, lycra and polyester. Being composed of plastic or polyurethane, these materials release micro plastics every time they are washed. These particles end up in our oceans, where they’re swallowed by sea animals, before ending up in our food chain. It’s easy to see the problem here, and this is something that all swimwear brands are facing. With sustainability being something that consumers demand from all brands and retailers, consumer search data shows that this is especially true in the swim category. StyleSage data reveals that searches for ‘sustainable swimwear’ in the UK are up 337% vs. April of 2020. Up-and-coming brands on the market are certainly trying to capitalize on this trend, and we are seeing more and more new swimwear brands with a heavy sustainability focus.
The rising brand Medina refers to their products as “elevated swimwear with a purpose,” creating one- and two-pieces using sustainable materials like ECONYL®, an innovative yarn that is entirely made from recovered fishnets and other nylon waste, is infinitely recyclable, and both UV-proof and chlorine-resistant. The label is also donating 3% of their sales to non-profit organizations that protect and rehabilitate our oceans.
Léa The Label is another trending brand for ocean lovers, and the theme remains true - while they admit that no brand can be 100% sustainable, they strive to do better for our environment. In addition to also using ECONYL®, collected waste from their collections is sent to their waste treatment center in Slovenia where it is 100% regenerated back to pure origin.
Last week we reported on color trends of 2022, and it’s clear that swimwear is no stand alone unit - the trending hues are resonating in this category as well. With bright and vibrant Kelly Green being one of the trendiest shades in fashion now, it should be to no one’s surprise that the number one global trending consumer search in terms of color is ‘green bikini’, which is up 129% YOY. In second and third place are ‘white bikini’, followed by ‘pink bikini’, with global searches up 74% and 53% YOY respectively.
Sizing and Inclusivity
For some, swimwear hunting isn’t the highlight of the year, but rather a serious struggle, and finding the right cut, coverage and color is sometimes easier said than done. Factoring in that many brands don’t go above a size XL can make the search even more complicated. Analyzing swim assortments in the US, StyleSage data shows that only 8% of swim items are in a size greater than XL. By most estimates, roughly 67 percent of American women are size 14 or larger. The mismatch here is clear. Having said that, some brands have switched on to the fact that women of all shapes and sizes are shopping for swimwear.
Andrea Iyamah is a brand that offers fun and playful suits, going up to size XXL/18 without compromising on style. In their selection one can find retro-inspired suits in unique colors and silhouettes that will make sure you stand out from the crowd. Ruffles? Of course they’ve got you covered.
Monday Swimwear, founded by Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman, started as an effort to inspire confidence in other women with styles that compliment and flatter every shape and size. Their range includes tops up to F cups, and what makes them special is that each top is fitted to every cup size and manufactured accordingly, rather than scaling up from a size small per industry standard. Their line features buttery soft but resilient fabrics, and adjustable straps and ties that are customizable to prevent digging or cutting in. As for bottoms sizing? Monday’s sizes start from P (Petite), to S, M, L, and V (Voluptuous) and VVV (Very Very Voluptuous).
Want more insights on the swimwear trends we’ve discussed? StyleSage clients can check out our latest trend reports here!