Bold color is not only making a splash in sportswear, but right now, it also rules in swimwear.
String bikinis and bandinis — bandeau tops with bikini bottoms — are also turning out to be the hot swimwear trends for spring and early summer, according to a national check of specialty and department stores. Prints, including paisley and zebra, are also winners.
Irina Korkhin, swimwear buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, said prints are the hottest trend right now.
“Anything animal, especially snake, has been a top seller this season,” she said, adding that, “no one style has out-sold others.”
She also said floral prints, especially those with a Hawaiian motif, have been a highly sought-after look.
Korkhin bought Lily Pulitzer’s line for the first time this year, and it has quickly become a bestseller, she said. La Blanca, another brand new to the Saks swimwear department, is also a hit, she said. Anne Cole’s floral suits have also sold well.
As for fabrics, textures are key, according to Korkhin. On the other hand, hardware — rings and other metal decorations — has not been popular, she said. Korkhin said tankinis are still important and are outselling the one-piece for the more body-conscious consumer.
Boy shorts, however, are a thing of the past. “I haven’t really had anyone request them,” she said.
One big trend this season in bikini tops is the bandeau, Korkhin said. Styles from Calvin Klein and Anne Klein have been the most popular, she said. Bandinis have been extremely popular, she added.
The biggest news in beach outerwear has been big shirts, said Korkhin. White linen has been a top look, but all styles are important, she said.
“The pull-on skirt is good,” she said. “I’ve been selling that about one-to-one,” she added, noting, “but georgette pareos are the most popular tie-on skirt of the year.”
As for business conditions, Korkhin said sales this year have picked up into the double digits, compared with the same period last year.
A spokeswoman at Banana Republic, also noted that color is the focus this season.
The retailer’s collection features key lime, mango, blueberry and hibiscus in solids or combined in a striped pattern. One of the season’s bestsellers, according to the spokeswoman, is the crocheted bikini, which comes with a matching bag.
The spokeswoman stressed the importance of accessories. Along with bags that carry the bikinis, customers are purchasing the matching crocheted kerchief, headband or even crocheted socks to complete the look, she said. Two other important accessories, according to the spokeswoman, are the sarong and beach bag combinations.
She noted the versatility of the bandeau, saying it can be worn also as a top under a blouse.
At Barneys New York, bright colors and the string bikini have been the two best-selling trends, according to Megan Mitchell, swimwear buyer. She added that swimwear business is up 20 percent.
Overall, mix-and-match bottoms as well as Missoni-inspired prints and snake prints did well. Barneys is doing well with paisley prints from both Malia Mills and Susana Monaco. “The colors in sportswear for spring lend themselves to swimwear,” Mitchell added. “They really translated well for swimwear.”
String bikinis rule at Henri Bendel’s swimwear department, according to Terril Turner, director of marketing.
Such labels as Pucci, 1Er De Verseau and Susana Monaco, and Roberto Cavalli have done well.
The strongest looks are snake prints and anything with beaded trims. Bandanna prints are also popular, she said.
Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, said the swimwear business is very strong and that styles are taking cues from the ready-to-wear market.
Bestsellers include sexy two-piece looks such as tankinis, camikinis, bandinis and halterkinis. Other important trends are reptile prints, linen coverups and sarongs.
Other top sellers are colorful geometric prints from Eres, color-piped looks from Calvin Klein, tattoo prints from Jean Paul Gaultier and dragon print swimsuits from Vivienne Tam.
String bikinis and bandanna prints have been popular at specialty retailer Scoop, which has been increasing its swimwear assortments as it expands into resort locations. The retailer currently operates three stores in Manhattan and one in East Hampton, N.Y. In mid-October, it is set to open a store at the Hotel Shore Club in Miami’s South Beach area. The store will be about 1,500 square feet, according to Stefanie Greenfield, Scoop’s owner.
In particular, bestsellers in swimear include string bikinis in bandanna prints in greens and oranges by Susana Monaco, Alberta Feretti’s underwire swimsuit with matching skirt, Michael Kors’s string bikini in flamingo prints and zebra prints and Bachatta’s string bikinis in zebra prints.
At the Bikini Shops, which operates two stores in Washington, D.C., string bikinis with padded bras reign, according to Colleen Corrigan, owner.
Other best-selling styles are boy shorts, tankinis and bandeau tops, she said. She added that she is selling a lot of tankinis in sizes 12 and 14.
Best-selling brands in string bikinis are Tango Rose, Daffy, Rebel Beach and Esprit. Skirt sets by Christina and Club De Sol are also popular, as are Robin Piccone’s zebra-print tankinis.
Business is up about 10 percent, Corrigan said.
“When the weather is hot, we are very busy. When it is rainy, business is no good,” she said.
Stanley Korshak, Dallas, a women’s and men’s designer store, said its La Perla swimwear business is way up over last year, with glamour the big trend, according to Karen Moore, buyer.
“Glamour is coming on strong for resort, especially with lots of fringe, beading, sequins and hot colors such as turquoise, pink, lime and electric blue,” she said, adding that best-selling styles are bikinis, two-piece halters and classic one-piece styles.
“It’s definitely color,” said Kathleen Mudd, buyer and owner of Canyon Beachwear, a swimwear specialty store with 13 locations located primarily in Southern California. “Anything orange and pink is hot; green is too,” she said.
Mudd noted sales of swimwear in solid colors with beading and embroidery have been brisk. Animal prints have been key looks, with zebra as the number one seller, followed by leopard, she said. Patchwork, floral prints and retro Hawaiian prints are still important, she added. The hottest silhouettes are the tankini, “tubekini,” triangle tops and scarf style tops.
“Halters are picking up speed,” she said. The pareo is keeping up pace, she said.
“Every designer has one or two nice suits out there,” said Mudd, noting Pisces, Lisa Curren, and Blink have been especially popular.
“I feel like it’s been good,” said Mudd, noting that her business has picked up five percent over the same season a year ago.
“It hasn’t been an awesome season. If we get some hot weather, it could turn out to be a great season,” she added.
Reptile prints in bright colors such as lime, mango, turquoise and fuchsia are selling well at Everything But Water, an Orlando, Fla.-based swimwear specialty store with 32 locations. According to marketing manager, Jenny Dunlap, popular fabrics include shiny metallic and fake suede and leather accents.
Although the tankini remains the most popular silhouette, Dunlap explained that “people want what they won’t see on everyone else at the beach.”
For this reason, bandeaus, apron-style tops and backless tankinis and camisoles are selling, while the one-piece suit with cut-outs is providing customers an edgy alternative to the typical one-piece, she said.
The stores’ best-selling lines are E Swim, its private label collection, and separates from Girl Star and La Blanca, she said.
Dunlap said the company is experiencing increases this season.
Cheyann Benedict, store manager at Calypso on Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles, said swimwear trends this season are “more about color than anything else.” The most popular colors are purple, pink and green, she said.
The basic string bikini is the hottest style with its basic triangle top and string tie bottom. She also noted that beading continues to be a popular look.
Denise Richards, buyer at Val Surf, with four locations in Southern California, said tankinis and regular bikini styles, such as the triangle top, are hot. Underwire tops have kept up pace, she said, but the popularity of boy shorts has declined. Another style that has not been highly requested is the G-string bottom, she said.
Richards noted selling particularly well is the printed bandeau-style tops, often bought with a different, solid-colored bottom. Other trends included anything bright, pink and floral.
Richards added that sarongs are the most popular beach outerwear for the summer. Richards said labels Pisces, Salinas and De La Mer were strongest.
At Atlanta Beach, which operates three stores in Atlanta, Ga., pastel pinks and greens as well as peach has done well, according to Patricia Schaeffer, co-owner, noting that business for spring and early summer is up by 30 percent over last year.
The hot new silhouette that is emerging is the bandini, she said.
Some of the best-selling labels are Zimmerman, Bachatta, Gideon Oberson and Shan.
She added that the store has done well with La Blanca’s pastel separates collection and Gideon Oberson’s suits with feather trims.

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