SWIMWEAR: TRYING NEW STROKES
Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio
NEW YORK — Last year’s swimwear season was, for the most part, a sinker.
So this season, swimwear firms are going all out with various fashion strategies and revving up the separates category to get consumers to buy suits in the April-May selling period.
After last year’s mistake of pushing dull colors like eggplant and burgundy, swimwear makers are now offering brights like hot pink and yellow. Bust-enhancement remains key, but the look is now about soft underwire styles instead of the severe push-up bras that flooded the market last season.
“Last year, the browns just didn’t check,” said Erich Ehrlich, national sales manager at Carol Wior Slimsuit, based in Los Angeles. “We are now going after the brights.”
For spring, Carol Wior is offering floral patterns, textures like snakeskin and soutache treatments. The company will also unveil Hazel, which is being designed by Wior’s daughter, Niki, who is 22. Hazel is Niki’s dog.
“Brights are definitely back,” said Ritchie Berger, chief executive officer at Ritchie Swimwear, which offers a contemporary line under the Ritchie label and a junior line called Pan Dulce.
“Last year, we did a pattern that looked like an ancient wall, but it really flopped,” he said.
For preview/early summer, Ritchie is moving away from earth tones and ethnic prints. Pan Dulce, for example, is offering polkadots and dalmatian prints, while the Ritchie line will feature bright pastels.
Ritchie also is going after the separates business and projects the category will account for 40 percent of the spring collection.
“We want to cater to different body types,” said Berger.
As for bust-enhancement, the underwire look is strong and represents about 60 percent of the collection. About 20 percent is in push-up bras.
Take Cover, a junior swimwear firm based in Los Angeles, will hype tropical colors, including reds and yellows, according to designer Shaun Amik.
As part of its strategy to offer brights, the company is moving away from blends of cotton and Lycra spandex and returning to nylon raschel because it holds color better, she said.
The company is also jumping into texture with ribbing, piquA, metallics and foil treatments.
Separates, a five-year-old program, is expected to continue its strong performance and for spring should account for 25 percent of sales.
Another firm capitalizing on the popularity of separates is Sunset Inc., whose collection under Sunset Separates targets the junior customer.
“There is a lot of newness in tops,” said Greg Stager, president of the Redondo Beach, Calif.-based firm. “We are doing special seams and underwires.”
Stager said the separates program enables the company to appeal to a customer who wears D, DD and E cups.
Chica Rica Bikini Co., based in Miami, started a separates program in July to go after the woman who wears D and DD cup sizes. About 15 to 20 percent will be in separates for the spring collection.
“It is really taking off,” said Michael Ross, production supervisor.
For those who need an uplift, Chica Rica is continuing to play up its bust enhancers, including push-up bras and underwire looks.
On the Beach, based here, is aggressively targeting three different market segments, according to Janet Wittenberg, an owner.
For spring, its junior line, On The Beach, offers Americana looks and shine and such fabrics as vinyl, and cotton and Lycra blends. Sur Le Plage, a contemporary line that caters to 30-to-50-year-olds, features mostly maillots in ottoman. The spring line includes various foil treatments.
In the firm’s plus-size line, Fantasize, the spring collection offers swimdresses in daisy and tropical prints.
On the Beach markets its own version of the push-up bra called Marvel, but the style accounts for only about 20 percent of the line. The most popular look in bust enhancement is simply the soft underwire look, which makes up 60 percent of the collection, Wittenberg said.
Authentic Fitness Corporation, Designer Swimwear Div.
California High Cut
Carol Wior Slimsuit
Certified Worldwide Retail Consultants
Cherry Stix Ltd.
Chica Rica Bikini Co.
Cry Baby/Ram Apparel
Linda Lundstrom Ltd.
Mamo Howell Inc.
On the Beach
Take Cover Inc.
Teensy Weensy USA Ltd., a division of Comme-Ci Comme-Ca Apparel Ltd.
Top Rock/Private Dancer
Tripp NYC Inc.
Why Not! From Downunder Swimwear