The days in which women served as a pretty distraction, modelling bikinis in between heats at surf contests aren’t only long gone but are rather obsolete by now. While females still enjoy sunbathing on the beach, they’re also taking to the water in a new way that doesn’t leave room for compromise when it comes to performance or style. Hence the new Swimwear for 2018 is all about girls in action, as our Retail Buyer’s Guide by Anna Langer shows.
“I would say that the active influence will continue and further strengthen its impact, across both active and fashion brands,” thinks Finisterre’s Product Director Debbie Luffman and Volcom’s Global Swim M&D Manager Marina Hamm agrees that “sportswear silhouettes are very on trend.” Especially crop top styles, inspired by sports bras that can crossover from swimwear to every day wear. They’re not only great for surfing but also Stand Up Paddle boarding, which is emerging as a trend of its own, next to classic short- and longboard surfing. Protest feature more stretch styles to cater for this and have teamed up with Lokahi for a board cooperation, while GlideSoul emphasize the perfect combination, tailoring their to women “who are both active in sports and appreciate fashion.”
One-piece swimsuits continue their comeback, bridging the gap between action and fashion in a number of stylish ways. Offering perfect coverage for all kinds of action, while still allowing for a lot of fashionable details, they are becoming the new staple in any beach loving gal’s wardrobe. “Especially styles that can be worn as a bodysuit with a pair of jeans or shorts or a skirt to complete the outfit,” says Marina from Volcom. Rip Curl, Finisterre and Roxy focus cut and fabrics on the action side, while Billabong plays with more fashion-heavy models like a one-shoulder and lace suit, and Afends “push the boundaries” with bolder prints and cleaner, simplified fits.
Mix & Match is staying strong too, transforming form a trend into a characteristic that’s becoming ever more important for the customer expressing her individual style. “We have created a swim range where individual pieces all compliment each other, allowing consumers to create their own unique style,” explains Animal’s Women and Girls’ Design Manager Lucy Seaman. Pull In, Brunotti and new sustainable swimwear brand, Wear Your Waste offer even more possibilities in 2018 with reversible styles that can be worn on two sides, in (at least) two different ways.
Billabong, Rip Curl, Roxy, Rusty, Brunotti, Finisterre and Animal have specific capsule lines that are designed for premium performance in all water sports. Protest focus on shorts and bikinis for SUP, Billabong add more crop tanks and longsleeve rash guards to their Surf Capsule Collection, and Roxy feature a full range of sporty swimsuits as part of their fitness collection: “One piece, two pieces with coverage, support, and adjustable straps,” next to their iconic Pop Surf line. Rip Curl expand their Mirage bikini range with a new athleisure capsule as a crossover to the active apparel line, as well as a new Surf Grip capsule that adds a super grippy elastic band under the bust and to the waist for even more secure coverage when surfing. Glide Soul use silicone lines on the inner wrists and ankle areas to prevent slipping and Rusty also recognise the strong sport trend coming for 2018, which is seeing the return of slightly wider straps and more athletic inspired silhouettes, naturally giving more support,“ says Breanne Carmody – Global Head of Merchandising.
While not all brands feature designated surf collections, they all offer pieces that are ready for action, like Pull-in’s Belharra top, Afend’s one pieces or Chiemsee’s surf leggings and crop tops.
The bikinis from Wear Your Waste bikinis can be tied in multiple ways that facilitate sunbathing and sea-splashing alike, and Volcom launch some new surf specific pieces like a cropped reversible rashguard and a zipperless bodysuit made out of their new sustainable jersey fabric.
Sustainability is finally making its way to the marketing forefront, not just on the material side (which will be outlined in detail further on), but also when it comes to marketing stories.
Wear Your Waste follow an eco-friendly, sustainable approach from the beginning: “At WYW we make a point of not designing collections according to trends, neither in prints nor in cuts. The whole concept of sustainability relies on the production of pieces that will last many seasons, therefore we prefer to look at aspects like versatility in tying options and uniqueness in prints,” explains Founder Rocio Enriquez. For the Brits at Finisterre, their deep commitment to the environment is key for their SS18 collection: “We are taking the theme of marine plastics and exploring this also through print and detailing within our swimwear range, to highlight and promote the issue,” states Debbie. And Volcom have a sustainable swimwear capsule line, Simply Solid, that is made from 100% regenerated nylon and is featured as their main marketing theme.
Individuality is a popular topic too, with Pull-in working “around the concept of freedom and self creativity”, a “Spiritualism“ theme from Protest and various travel as well as beach inspirations from Pull-in, Rip Curl, Brunotti, Billabong and Roxy.
Next to the typical beach stories and tropical themes, there’s also a more urban vibe with some retro inspirations coming up. Brunotti celebrate their beginnings in the 70s with clean and colourful Memphis art and the graffiti style of Keith Haring, Billabong throw back to the 80s with iconic “New Wave” styles, Volcom pay homage to the “bright sporty styles of the 1990s” in their collaboration with Georgia May Jagger and Rip Curl work with flea market inspiration from the 90s as well.
Rusty are focusing on two main themes, the Belize and the Orient stories, the former with a tile print and stripe, while the latter is “our take on an oriental floral done in beautiful shimmery fabric making the earthy tones really pop against a dark navy base,” says Breanne.
PRINTS & COLOURS
Mirroring the trends and themes, swimwear comes in two main pallets in 2018; strong and bright colours contrasting and complementing softer tones as well as neutrals. Including all shades of red, orange and neon, next to turquoise, sea green, pool blue, bright pinks and electric purple, next to pastels that range from rose to mint and extend to nude colours and earthed tones. Black and white will always stay a classic, which Brunotti update in a “wet look” style with golden details and Glide Soul focus on in their “Black Pearl” line. Rusty play with “earthy tones with an edge due to the shimmery effect of the base cloths. Think coppers, golds, flame reds and metallic navys.”
Matching the beach themes, we find a lot of surf-inspired prints with tropical flowers and leaves in all kinds of shapes and styles, from oversized to abstract to pineapples. Geometric patterns have been super popular in recent years and are becoming a bit more subtle with mosaic-variations, while stripes are picking up again with new multi-coloured and textured interpretations and their very own “Vibrant Stripes Collection” from Glide Soul. Wear Your Waste feature exclusive illustrations created by guest artists and Afends explore more bold prints, which they find work well.
With the ongoing trend to mix & match, a lot of brands offer complementary patterns throughout their swimwear, apparel and accessories lines. “Girls are wearing our swim category not only to the beach but as body suits and bralettes, so we’ve kept the swim and the apparel pallet tight and cohesive,” says Volcom’s Marina. For Billabong, “Swimwear is always the most important layer and designed to harmonize with the rest of the collection,” states Weppe Isabelle, Women’s Design Europe Manager.
In order to facilitate the seamless transition from land to water and back, poly elastane with quick dry finish as Chiemsee uses, or microfibre like Rip Curl’s Mirage are still among the most popular materials. Animal adds some mesh fabric, “reflecting an emerging trend for fuller style suits but with areas of mesh, as we see the ‘athleisure’ trend cross over into swimwear,” explains Lucy. Volcom introduce a new bonded, reversible fabric that gives a neoprene-like feel and more texture, which is something Billabong and Roxy focus on too. This includes ribbing fabrics, macramé, crotchet, rope as well as knotted details and Jacquard from Pull-in, who also play with a metallic effect. Glide Soul feature a new high quality S-FOAM neoprene that is softer and easier to put on and take off.
Yet as aforementioned, the main story in swimwear materials are eco-friendly and sustainable options. Volcom’s new Simply Solid collection features a tricot fabric that is 100% regenerated nylon from discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste materials, next to a luxurious jersey that is made with the same regenerated content. The main fabric in Wear Your Waste’s collection is VITA, a combination of Econyl (78%), which is a regenerated polyamide, mixed with Lycra XtraLife (22%), ensuring that the bikini lasts a long time looking as good as new: “No piling, no damage due to oil creams, chlorine or sun exposure and a perfect fit regardless of your movement.” Roxy use Vita Xtra life fabric for their technical swimwear products as well, while Finisterre mainly work with Econyl, emphasizing the soft, comfortable stretch and matt, structured feel in addition to the environmental benefits. In 2018 they will also use recycled polyester in their women’s boardshorts for the first time and Afends ask us to keep our eyes peeled for the luxe fabrics in their new Hemp range.
A lot to watch out for and look forward to, whether the surf’s up or not!