Summer is just around the corner, so you own an embroidery machine, you can profit by decorating your own swimsuits and beach apparel!
Sunglasses, MP3 players, six packs and sandals - it's summertime, and we will soon be beachward bound. Equipped with sunscreen, inflatable mattress, beach towel, T-shirt cover-up, crossword puzzles and iPads, they'll be ready for a relaxing day in the sun. Who says they can't also be sporting the best in summer-fun embroidery?
Adding a Custom Design
Starting this month, millions of sun worshippers will flock to the nation's beaches for water-related recreation, and by the end of custom baubles next month, thousands of private and community swimming pools will be open to swimmers, too. It's time, then, to outfit these hordes of water babies for the summer-long agenda of beach and poolside activities.
Summer time apparel can be a lucrative product niche, whether you sell embroidered swimwear, customized swimsuits, or towels, robes, and beach bags. Above average mark-up and below-average storage space can add up to big bucks, especially because swimwear is a quick sell. At the time of purchase, in fact, most swimwear buyers are already in the mood to buy a swimsuit; they do not just impulse-shop swimwear when they are shopping for other apparel items.
For retailers, the most inviting side of the swimwear story relates to the variety of ways swimwear is worn these days. No longer is a swimsuit destined only for the beach; when paired with shorts or a wrap skirt, the swimsuit becomes a suitable substitute for a standard top-and the outfit can go anywhere.
What began as ultimate accessorizing has reached a very blurry line, as swim attire is slowly converted into mainstream, non-swim apparel. And as swimwear steps outside the bounds of beach and pool-appropriate clothing, other types of garments are coming into the circle. Today, the garments worn with swimsuits like cover-ups, T-shirts, shorts, caps and even sandals-are just as significant a part of the broadening category of poolside apparel.
This is the most exciting news for embroidery companies and screenprinters, because the opportunity to coordinate swimsuits with accessory items practically begs for embroidery.
In the apparel marketplace, swimwear is the exception to nearly every fashion rule. Colors and styles deemed inappropriate or outdated are somehow acceptable for swimwear. For example, look at the continued popularity of neon colors in this apparel segment. Retail price per square inch of fabric is higher than for most other garments; a designer swimsuit can cost $300 (as much as a fully lined, linen jacket, even though it uses about one tenth the fabric).
Why are people willing to disregard the rules when it comes to swimwear? What is it about bathing suits that makes them so irresistible?
Perhaps more than any other apparel item, a swimsuit is a personal, intimate garment - even more revealing than lingerie, which is intended for private eyes only. Instead, the swimsuit wearer bares her soul to the world as she bares vast amounts of skin in public. For some people, the shock potential of near total exposure is daringly intoxicating; for others, wearing a swimsuit is merely an acceptable way to reveal a truer, inner self.
Swimwear comes in all shapes and sizes, designed to fit every imaginable taste and need. Sure, some suits are modestly proportioned to keep body parts in check, but there are also riskier, racier styles that flirt with the line of respectability.
Just as styles vary, so do the reasons people wear swimsuits. One guy may need a simple piece of fabric to amply cover his body while swimming laps, but the next person may want a more revealing suit that's attractive to fellow sunbathers. And because each swimsuit has its own personality and specific function, a person needs more than one swimsuit to complement his different moods and functional needs.
Active and Passive Swimwear
What's the difference?
Most swimsuits can be termed "active" or "passive," depending on whether the wearer can partake in active (speed or distance swimming, diving, water skiing ) or passive (sunbathing, wading, hot tubbing) pursuits. For women, structural components that designate a suit for active water sports include wide shoulder straps, broad coverage in the chest, thigh and buttocks areas, full-suit and/or crotch lining and sturdy snap or buckle closures. On the other hand, a suit designed for passive activities may have these stylistic points: lightweight or near-sheer fabric, removable straps, French-cut leg holes, a low-cut back or plunging neckline and decorative baubles or three dimensional ornamentation.
Men's swimwear doesn't have the same depth of variety found in women's, yet men also make swimsuit decisions based upon the active/passive principle. For example, the critical issue of snap waistband vs. drawstring closure is dictated by sport; while most men wear drawstring styles for recreational swimming, surfers prefer a securely snapped waistband; a mean wave can render a surfer suit less if his waistband is elasticized.
Fit, Style, or Construction?
Fit (the way a suit fits the body) is the most important factor to swimwear buyers. Consumers are always interested in what's popular and what's 'in,' but only if it fits.
Size is so important to swimwear customers, especially women. Style and overall attractiveness is a secondary consideration, and quality of construction runs a close third. Last on the list, believe it or not, is brand name recognition. With fashion apparel, it may not necessarily the case, but with swimwear, consumers would much rather wear a no-name suit that looks good than a designer suit that looks terrible.
People want to look their best when wearing swimwear. Many of the styles today are designed for older women who are tired of wearing "old lady" swimsuits. These ladies are a lot younger-minded, they don't feel as old as they are. It's the "same attitude, different body" concept. Although a fortyish woman may want the same swimsuit as a twenty-something, the suit has to be designed differently to compensate for her physical differences.
Neons and Prints
Although the fit, construction and style of a swimsuit are primary considerations, color is what attracts a consumer to a suit in the first place.'A person is drawn, almost magnetically, to something with color-especially bright, happy colors.
Neon colors are still in the swimwear scene - the brighter, the better. Neon-colored swimwear will probably be around for a few more seasons. And not only are neon items popular, they're prevalent.
Prints and patterns, in fact, are the swimwear buzzwords this summer; virtually every swimsuit manufacturer is offering plenty of prints to satisfy consumer demand for excitement and adventure.
Trendy patterns, including animal prints and geometric designs, have been faring well with consumers. While animal prints usually come in earthy black, brown, camel and gray tones, abstract "splatter and splash" patterns feature bold colors, some neon hues and even foil printing.
Mix and Match
The newest swimwear philosophy "mix and match" is part of the reason prints have become so popular in recent years. Customers can piece together swimsuit coordinates, pairing solids with prints, mixing complementary patterns or creating a customized color-blocked look. The "build your own bikini" concept evolved because women were dissatisfied with swimwear size presentations. A woman who needs a size 10 top isn't necessarily a size 10 on the bottom.
Numerous swimwear purveyors have jumped onto the bandwagon of offering mix-and-match styles, not only because it makes sense, but also because it's good for business.
The biggest drawback about mix-and-match swimwear is that to make it work, a retailer must stock each style in every size, color and print available. It works well for a larger retailer that has the capital to invest in an extensive inventory. It's not a great concept for small boutiques, unless the supplier will accommodate individual orders.
For embroiderers, however, swimwear separates present a great opportunity for embellishment. The many styles that combine prints and solids can be embroidered with simple stock designs, keyboard lettering or coordinating patterns and prints to tie the components together in a complete look.
Embroidery has always helped create a fashionable ensemble wardrobe, and that is exactly what today's consumers want in swimwear. Because the coordinated look is popular, manufacturers are now offering apparel and accessories in fabrics and prints that match their traditional swimwear lines.
Cover-ups, oversized shirts, shorts, leggings, sarongs, caps, totes, sandals, hair accessories and even jewelry are priced individually, yet they are rarely sold one at a time. People want a total swimwear wardrobe, and that means not just a swimsuit, but the clothes worn before and after swimming.
While ensemble accessories may have originally been used to sell specific swimsuits, it's not necessarily that way anymore. Cover-ups, sarongs and hooded jackets that coordinate with swimsuits are designed to extend a customer's wardrobe, not limit it. You can pair a patterned cover-up with a matching swimsuit or a solid suit in anyone of the colors in the print. That way, if you have four different suits and two cover-ups, you can have as many as eight different looks.
As the definition of swimwear (and what fits into the swimwear category) changes, manufacturers are quick to pick up on the trends. Several swimsuits can serve as crossover garments. For example, when paired with pants and a blazer, a standard tank becomes a camisole and a bikini top becomes a bandeau. A good portion of today's swimwear, too, can double as exercise gear for aerobics, weightlifting and modern dance classes.