SWIMWEAR: RETRO REVIVAL
Byline: Neal Turnage
SARASOTA, Fla. — Swimwear designers are doing the backstroke.
Technological advances in machinery and fabrics have made the category more innovative, but as for styling, many vendors say the look is Saint Tropez, circa 1973.
“I’m seeing lots of retro,” said Janet Wittenberg, president of On The Beach, which also produces the XOXO contemporary swimwear line.
Wittenberg said stripes, appliques and pique prints are on the horizon. As for styling, the triangle top is a trend, as well as the apron halter with a tie neck and back.
Another big trend is coordinated sportswear pieces accompanying swimwear. This has been building momentum for the past two seasons, and Wittenberg said she expects it to take off this year.
“We’re doing quite a bit of it for XOXO,” she said, noting that Victoria’s Secret featured a coordinated outfit from XOXO on a recent catalog cover.
But while coordinated sportswear might be on the brink of stardom, Wittenberg and Jim Gerson, general manager of Jantzen Swimwear, said the micro short, also referred to as HotPants or hot shorts, is going to be the great white shark of the season.
Regarding Jantzen’s junior line, Gerson also cited coordinated sportswear, saying that board skirts promise to be big.
“It looks just like a board short, only without the split in the fabric that makes it shorts,” he said.
Halters continue to perform, he reported, as well as anything with texture. The biggest color story at Jantzen is soft purple teamed with light blue.
Linda Chan, brand manager for Jantzen misses’ swimwear, said the company strives to serve the customer as she transitions from the junior market to the misses’ market.
The company has three misses’ lines: Jantzen Images, Coastal Zone and Jantzen Sport. While the look in Images is clean with a few tropical prints, Coastal Zone is bright with engineered foil texture. The Sport line features colorblocking.
“Some of our misses’ silhouettes will have that retro feel,” she said. “They include high necks and halters and a boy short, which plays off the micro short in juniors, but is a little more conservative for the misses’ customer.”
At East Coast Annie, a swimwear line manufactured by Surf Style and based in Dania, Fla., national sales representative Lisa Wajcer concurred there is a slight retro feeling to the line.
“We’re doing flower prints,” she said. Frosted satin and pastels also play a part in the overall design direction, as well as some neons.
“Piping is an important feature, and HotPants are in,” Wajcer said. Separates are also important for the “mix-and-match element in our line.”
Erlie Tamang, vice president of High Cut, a junior line based in Lancaster, Calif., said she anticipates a big market for separates, but the biggest news in the coming months is texture.
“Everything we’re doing is textured,” said Tamang. “It really adds interest.”
She noted that neon brights make up the largest color story in the collection, and that retro influences, like halter tops, are still strong silhouettes.
“Two-piece is where we’re going,” she said. “But there’s more than just halters. We’re doing underwires, pads, thong bikinis — basically, every kind of silhouette out there, because there’s a customer for it.”