With its bevy of scantily clad models, the Sports Illustrated Swimwear issue hasn’t traditionally been targeted to women. But that isn’t stopping Authentic Brands Group, owner of the storied sports magazine, from setting its sights on females with the launch of its Sports Illustrated Swim collection.
ABG has licensed Venus Fashion, a women’s swimwear and apparel manufacturer, to create a new line of suits under the Sports Illustrated Swim name.
Sports Illustrated had offered a Swim and Active line with a different licensee in 2018 when it was still owned by Time Inc., but that collection is no longer available.
Natasha Fishman, executive vice president of ABG, said the new collection with Venus is about celebrating the “legacy” of the Swimsuit franchise, but is intended to appeal to an “empowered and powerful woman.”
“Swimsuit has always been a highly anticipated edition of the Sports Illustrated franchise. In recent years, the issue has developed a message of inclusivity, showing that beauty embraces the mind, body and spirit,” she said. “The launch of this line is a natural first step for Sports Illustrated Swim and will pave the way for meaningful brand extensions.”
She said the Swimsuit franchise has garnered a “significant female following” on Instagram where it has a more-inclusive tone. As a result, the marketing plan for the launch will center around social media, along with a gifting program to influencers, Fishman said.
Pamela Kimball, director of swim, intimates and sleepwear for Venus Fashion, said the company has been creating swimwear since 1984 and offers sizes 2-24 in cup sizes A-G, and the collection with Sports Illustrated is intended to “champion body- and self-expression” with pieces that help women feel comfortable and confident.
She said at launch, the collection will include 39 styles, with more than 140 stockkeeping units in different sizes, colors and patterns. That will include double-strapped sexy pieces, she said, along with one-pieces in brights, neutrals, metallics and animal prints.
There are also about four to five complementary cover-ups, she said.
The collection will range in price from around $85 to $140. It will be available for purchase on siswim.com and select pieces will be featured in the 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, scheduled to be published in July.
Next year, ABG also hopes to begin wholesaling the brand, Fishman said. Kimball added that she sees opportunity at department and specialty stores as well as sporting goods retailers.
Looking ahead, SI Swim will also be expanded into complementary product categories such as eyewear, health and beauty products, pool and beachwear, summer accessories and travel products. Fishman said activewear and loungewear are also natural extensions for the brand.
ABG purchased the magazine for $110 million last May and has said it sees potential in expanding its reach into everything from apparel to events and conferences, gambling and gaming.
Last month, it partnered with 101 Studios to create Sports Illustrated Studios, a vehicle to develop, produce and distribute long-form film, television and audio content.
Sports Illustrated is the most-read sports magazine in the world, with a total audience of more than 120 million consumers. But the frequency of the former weekly has been reduced and a large chuck of its staff has been terminated.