The Problem with Swimwear
I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a small swimwear collection since Hidden Beneath started. I don’t have any experience with swimwear apart from wearing it so creating a line will be a steep learning curve for me but one I am willing to take on. I’d like to do a line with lots of crops and full costumes with a few triangle bikinis thrown into the mix. I was a swimmer in my teens, and I got to a national level so for me swimwear has always been function over fashion and that’s what I would like my line to reflect.
It’s one of the busiest markets in the industry with many brands devoted to only bringing their audiences new collections of swimwear year after year, especially in America and Europe. Basically, if you get it right you could do very well.
Given the current situation, I guess swimwear is a bit of a moot point but as the Summer heat nears, I can’t help but think of the possibilities regardless if we're all stuck inside or not.
My main thoughts are how I can make environmentally friendly swimwear pieces. Essentially, if you are supplying anything to be consumed that doesn’t naturally decompose you’ve failed before you’ve begun. Unlike clothing and some underwear that can be made from natural fibres such as cotton, due to its use swimwear can’t. Fabric for swimwear needs to have stretch, be UV and chlorine resistant, opaque and comfortable. A lot to ask for, to be honest, and I haven’t even mentioned support for larger busted women and body contouring. This is the problem with swimwear.
Currently, swimwear fabric is man-made. There have been lots of progressions within man-made fabrics which are slowly and surely making them better options for the planet although they will never beat what nature can produce. There are many brands out there who now use recycled polyester, just google sustainable swimwear and you’ll see what I mean. As well as using recycled fabrics some brands donate some of their sales profit to ocean charities which is a nice idea and maybe offsets the guilt somewhat. There’s a company called ECONYL that creates fabric from discarded fishing lines and other plastic waste that is in the ocean and is a fabric I am interested in. You might have seen crochet cotton bikinis that you could argue are the most sustainable option, but they don’t have the modern look that is desired and I’d be concerned about the longevity of the product – from a business point of view there’s no point making a sustainable line that doesn’t sell.
It’s a hard one, I don’t have anything against man-made fabrics as they can be useful and I do use them in the Fishnet Collection (although sparingly) again, I think fast fashion is the real culprit here -remember Missguided’s £1 bikini last year? poolside shouldn’t be a fashion show, you don’t need a new bikini for every day of your holiday. There isn’t anything wrong with maybe taking two and washing them in the sink as needed. As above, we ask a lot from swimwear and the fabric that it’s made from, it should be expensive and as it is a higher price expect it to fit well, make you feel good and last a long time. I guess the problem isn’t really with swimwear, the problem is with us.