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WWD MAGIC issue 07/16/2008

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO go back in the water — it is. Swimwear vendors, a bit glum as the bumpy economy and uneven weather rattle their businesses, plan to give retailers what works, with familiar silhouettes, metallics, nautical looks and solids all part of the play-it-safe arsenal of trends.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Nautical styles are perennial hits, and they’re high on the list. Maria Santilena, sales manager at Skinny Dip Swimwear, a division of lingerie firm Leg Avenue, based in City of Industry, Calif., said the company offers 18 styles in a flirty daywear swim line and 13 styles in an elegant nightwear group. A red-and-white-striped Skinny Dip bikini has a rope detail around the neck and also in the low-rise bottoms. An anchor charm spices up the tube top. The set wholesales for $31.80.

Jessica Simpson swimwear puts a spin on nautical by pairing a jeans-like bottom with a navy-and-white-striped top, and it’s booking well, said Ellyce Zolt, a partner in Ronnie & Ellyce Sales Showroom, which represents Jessica Simpson, True Religion, Bare Assets, Martini Sol and Endless Sun, among other swim brands. Simpson pieces wholesale from $17 to $26.

A burgeoning trend over the last few seasons, metallics — mainly gold and silver — aren’t going away any time soon. For instance, the strong response to gold and silver styles introduced last year inspired the Havaianas flip-flop brand to increase its metallic selection.

A pair flip-flops with Swarovski crystals in the straps retails for up to $130 — Havaianas generally retail for around $15.

Swim vendors have recently been testing atypical silhouettes such as bandeaux and monokinis. The shapes are great for magazines, but retailers are often concerned whether fit-conscious shoppers will venture outside their comfort zones. Santilena noted, “The monokinis are doing well, but in general, they’re hard because they don’t fit everybody,” so Skinny Dip has tried to make them workable by enhancing their adjustability.

With the market for monokinis and bandeaux still tenuous, vendors are mainly rolling out swimwear’s equivalent of the big guns: triangle tops and halters. In bottoms, low-rise silhouettes are strong. In tricky market conditions, vendors say buyers are returning to basics, especially solids.

– Classic nautical designs are rebounding with their signature navy, red and blue colorations.
– A solid suit is a sure sale.
– Metallics shine on, with gold and silver looks staying strong.
– Cutout one-pieces are gaining traction if they aren’t too crazy.


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