The Real Reason Swimwear Is So Expensive

The Real Reason Swimwear Is So Expensive

The real reason that swimwear is so expensive is that it's not cheap to produce! Swimwear designers spend a lot of time and effort perfecting the design before they even start production. 

They have to find the right material, work with suppliers, get samples made up, do photoshoots- everything costs money. And when you are paying for something like this, you want it to be worth your while.

Swimwear is an essential part of summer. But, it can be expensive to buy a new bikini or swimsuit every year. The average retail price for women's swimsuits ranges from $40-120, and men's can cost anywhere from $20-90. So why are they so expensive? 

Three main factors contribute to the high costs of swimwear: fabric quality, labour costs, and shipping fees. Fabric quality needs to be durable enough to withstand chlorine in pools and comfortable enough for you not to feel self-conscious wearing it in public. 

Labour costs account for the employees who cut out pieces of fabric by hand with their sewing machine, which takes time and effort on both ends before being shipped off overseas where the final product is.

Being that swimsuits are typically one-time wear items, they're often made with more expensive materials like silk or velvet. These fabrics cost more than cotton blends because they're usually less durable and require special care. 

Because manufacturers only make small quantities of each design, there's also an increased chance that their designs won't sell out in stores, which means they'll have to pay for manufacturing costs without making any profit from the sale. This all adds up to higher prices at retail outlets.

You may be wondering why swimwear is so expensive. Well, there are a few reasons. For one, the fabric is often imported overseas, and the price of importing goods has increased significantly in recent years due to higher tariffs on imports into the US and other countries. 

Plus, people aren't buying as much clothing these days because they're spending money on more important things like housing and healthcare. Lastly, it's just really hard to produce anything at scale with such small margins and still make a profit. 

So if you want affordable clothes that will last for seasons or decades - this isn't your market!

The other week, I was shopping at a store, and I found this really cute swimsuit. It was super high-quality and had a great fit, but it just wasn't the right style for me. 

The price tag said $150 - that's pretty expensive! But then I started thinking about how much money people spend on things they don't need all the coffee from Starbucks or McDonald's...or even alcohol. 

Swimsuits are an investment in your health and happiness because you'll wear them every day next summer when you're sitting by the pool or relaxing on vacation somewhere hot! 

So if you're going to be spending a lot of time wearing one anyway, why not get something that will make you feel confident?

Why Are Swimsuits Always So Expensive?

Even if you're more of a one-piece kind of gal than a string bikini person, swimsuits are probably some of the flimsiest garments we own, taking up about the same amount of square inches of fabric as a handkerchief. So, how, then, can swimsuits cost upwards of $100?

Slate dug into the topic and found out that the engineering behind a swimsuit can often be much more complicated than a dress. So unless you have a supermodel's physique (and elasticity), you probably look for a suit that provides some support. 

Additionally, swimsuits are made for activity. A good pair won't come undone or ride up during a cannonball and start drooping and peeling off afterwards, which is something that most other clothing items don't have to deal with.

Another reason lies in seasonality. Anyone who's looking for a swimsuit during the off-season (September, for example) knows just how difficult it is to find one. In addition, the short production and promotion season means that manufacturing costs can rise significantly. 

Click through to this blog to read the entire breakdown, and pay a little more respect to your trusty triangle bikini the next time you barrel off the springboard.

This Is Why

Have you ever wondered why your smallest items of clothing seem to cost the most money? Bras, bikinis, lingerie - it is kind of soul-destroying when you have to shell out the most amount of money for the smallest amount of material.

Some bathing suits and bikinis can seem pricey despite using a lot less fabric than a shirt or a dress. This is because the clothing industry as a whole is very complex, and that includes swimwear. 

Several factors, including quality, construction, and where the garment is made, are considered when it comes to the retail price of your favourite swimsuit.

Well, E! has unearthed the reason for premium-priced swimwear, and at least we can all rest easy in the fact that it does actually make some sense.

The reason your bikini costs more than two triangles cut out of that really nice sweater you just bought from Zara? It's because a lot more science has to go into producing your swimwear material in the first place.

The best fabric for swimwear is made in Western Europe, which results in a higher cost of materials. Plus, the stretchy fabric used in swimwear, like spandex, generally costs more than everyday fabrics like cotton. 

There’s also the construction of the garment, which can be just as complicated as other types of clothing.

“The process to make a swimsuit actually takes much longer than most garments,” Michelle Copelman, design director of Solid & Striped, the brand recently worn by Taylor Swift’s crew, said. “Essentially, the fabric has to relax between steps, and every machine has to be set for each new style.”

As with any clothing, what you choose to spend on a swimsuit ultimately depends on what is most important to you. If ethically sourced materials are at the top of your list, you're more than likely going to have to pay more from your wallet. 

Mass retailers like Forever 21 and H&M may offer great deals, but they might not necessarily last as long as one made by an indie designer who sources all of their fabrics locally.

Still, a lesser cost suit doesn’t bother someone like Britney Spears (who manages to look good in all of her suits!) Best tip from us? Keep your eyes on sales! Surely enough, that $100+ swimsuit you’ve been eyeing will eventually get marked down to clearance.

The thing with swimwear is if you want high-quality material, you have to pay for it. We explain, the best swimwear fabric comes out of Western Europe, which means it costs brands more to make, and that cost is then passed on to the consumer.

The manufacturing process is also a lot more complicated and therefore takes much longer with swimwear than with other clothing. Michelle Copelman, design director of Solid & Striped said. "Essentially, the fabric has to relax between steps, and every machine has to be set for each new style".

Of course, you can buy your swimwear from cheaper high street stores, but the chances are it won't last as long as a bikini bought from a more luxury label.

Our advice? We'd probably invest in one or two classic styles that you'll always love and hit the high street for more novelty designs you won't mind recycling after a year or two.

Why Is A Good Swimsuit So Hard To Find?

Catherine Flinn is a former world rowing masters champion who has been involved in aqua-athletics for more than 30 years. Yet, most swimwear has frustrated and disappointed her. 

"I would buy the most expensive brand, and it would still not be cut right," she says. "They would all ride up the more I kicked in the water. At one point, I ended up swimming in cycling shorts."

Only once did she find a swimsuit that looked great and did everything she needed it to do: “Shelf bra; a clasp to keep the shoulders from falling off; waffle-weave fabric, not tight; a solid, grown-up blue-green colour. And the only one I’ve ever had that covered my bum.”

Flinn’s suit, the virtues of which she lists in near-rapturous tones, was bought at a Connecticut J Crew outlet in 1986. Thirty-five years later, not only does she still own it (she sends me a picture), she still wears it.

Functional, flattering swimwear is a rare find, which is why many women lovingly recall their best buys from decades ago. I have bought countless bikinis, but I only once found a two-piece I could actually swim in solid-black, sleek, 1990s-minimal, well-cut and made from a satisfyingly dense, snap-tight fabric. 

Made by Seafolly, the Australian brand, it neither wrinkled nor sagged nor suddenly turned transparent. Inevitably, it was discontinued.

Wearing a swimsuit is the closest we come to being naked in public. So why is finding a good one so infuriatingly difficult? “The only thing men have to think about is the waistband,” says Ella Foote, a swimming instructor and lifeguard who specialises in outdoor training. 

"Whereas women have hips, breasts, some have had breasts removed and have to adapt, and so on. So it is much more complicated. Add on the ridiculous history of women's swimwear, and it becomes an emotional and complicated thing to buy."

As the swimwear-buying season gets underway, I asked women in my Twitter network about their costume-buying experiences. Most complained about the difficulty of finding good — even adequate — fit and swimwear refusing to stay in place. 

“I have given up. I don’t think I will ever swim again — unless they restore the Victorian bathing dress”; “An absolute nightmare” and “I look like Margaret Rutherford” were just a few of the responses.

Garish colours and alarming patterns were irritants. One respondent complained how "most look as if they have been designed by people on LSD" while another longed for "khaki, burnt orange, etc. — proper grown-up colours".

Most of these women seemed prepared to buy expensive swimwear, and some had done so. But they recalled horrors such as "disintegrating fabric", "infantile colours", "insubstantial shoulder straps", "lack of bottom coverage", and "cups with pads that float away".

So can we find pieces that meet our requirements? Foote, who runs “body-confidence classes” for women returning to swimming, advises regarding active swimwear as a technical purchase, like trainers, sports bras and power leggings — particularly if degrading fabric is a problem.

 "Chlorine eats standard nylon," she says, explaining the sudden transparency phenomenon. "With swimwear, women end up making do. But a swimsuit is the same: it should support your body, not pinch and not leave gouge marks. And it should last."

Her preferred brand is Deakin & Blue, which uses yarns more resistant to chlorine than standard nylon. Many of its pieces are made from Econyl, a stretchy fabric made from recycled fishing nets, scraps of carpets and other plastic waste. 

Other Deakin & Blue pieces are made from bonded Lycra, which is sturdier than Econyl and closer to Neoprene.

Rosie Cook, a former Deloitte consultant who founded the brand in 2016, says designs follow a set of principles: "Long enough in the body, so they are not riding up around the crotch or pulling on shoulders; armholes so boobs are not falling out of the sides. And the bikini line and behind are not too cheeky."

Prints say, Cook, are kept to a minimum: "Most look good on a B or C cup. Seven or eight little cherries look great. 

But by the time you put them on an HH bust, there are 94 of them, and they look ridiculous. They are never designed with multi-shapes in mind. We sell more plum and navy than anything else."

Not all swimwear occasions call for endurance. Poolside lolling with the occasional dip, for example, suits heritage glamour. 

Hunza G — known as the cultish Hunza in the 1980s — makes leggy pieces in a crinkle-stretch knitted fabric, a combination of nylon and elastane with the unique advantage of coming in a single size, which is a relief. One stylish acquaintance says it is the only brand she wears.

Supersoft pieces by Eres, the sophisticated, minimalist French brand, are considered an ultimate investment by my not-scientific-at-all Twitter focus group. Much-loved suits by J Crew (makers of Flinn's old standby), Mara Hoffman and Maui were also singled out for praise.

This year, I will be wearing my 1990s black bikini again. But armed with all this new advice, I discovered more swimsuits suitable for poolside lolling and reasonably energetic swimming. Will they last as well as my bikini? Ask me in 30 years.

13 Swimsuit Brands That Will Never Go Out of Style

From supportive one-pieces to sleek bandeau bikinis and even the odd string two-piece, you'll have a full wardrobe for your beach days.

Buying and wearing swimwear can be a difficult experience, and for a good reason—you're arguably wearing the least amount of fabric in a public setting that you ever do, as far as your day to day goes. 

Naturally, you want to look your best whether you're hitting the beach, spending time poolside, or—let's face it—sitting on your roof. Unfortunately, it just so happens that chic cuts made with fabrics that flatter—and styles that don't cycle through trends too quickly—can seem difficult to come by. 

The fact is, when you're tossing on a high-waisted bikini or a one-piece, you should trust that you are wearing the most fashionable, flattering, and comfortable maillot available. Your go-to suit should be impeccable, from the cut to the fabric, to how it fits.

Luckily the swimwear space has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years, bringing forth high-fashion silhouettes, classic cuts, and pieces that we reach for season after season. 

Whether you're looking for a classic bandeau bikini from French swimwear label Eres or want to dive into the world of feminine and quirky one-pieces from LoveShackFancy and Oseree, these are the best swimsuit brands to pick your beach essentials from this year.

1. Marysia

Marysia's scalloped hem and basketweave fabric became an instant swimwear classic when they hit the scene. Whether you're looking for a halter one-piece or a simple two-piece, the feminine curves of the fabric will flatter yours.

2. Tabacaru

Tabacaru excels at one-pieces that bring the drama. Sure, the lines of their singlets are classic, but it's the fun patterns and bow details that make for major statements, whether lounging at the pool or celebrating a bachelorette party at the beach.

3. Eres

Timeless Classic:

When it comes to Eres, you know what you are going to get. Sleek lines: whether in their supportive strapless bandeaus with the signature ruched U clasp or with a timeless string bikini. These suits last season after season, and not just aesthetically. 

The quality fabric seems to retain its stretch for years, too.

4. Jade Swim


Those who fancy clean lines will gravitate towards Jade Swim's oh-so-simple cuts. The fabrics are so lightweight and soft they feel bare there, but it's the colour selection that takes their stylings to the next level. 

If you're the type who likes to get one bikini in every colour, this line provides a range of hues for you.

5. Solid and Striped

Solid and Striped carved a niche for themselves by taking classic cuts, like the underwire bikini and one-piece suit, and reinventing them with fun patterns and cool fabrics like terrycloth for anything but boring basics.

6. Juillet

If you are partial to a high-waisted maillot, Juillet's are hard to beat, from the body-hugging fit to the fun textures and feminine touches, like eyelet fabric and florals.

7. Oseree Swim

Oseree's signature glittering swimwear is fun but never juvenile. The shimmering weave of one-pieces, bikinis, and cutout bathing suits is glamorous, not cheesy—and their colour selection never fails to delight.

8. Tory Burch

Preppy Pick:

When in search of preppy swimwear, look no further than Tory Burch. One-pieces with timeless lines and elegant embellishment are an area where the line excels, in particular.

9. LoveShackFancy

If you're aiming for whimsy, look to LoveShackFancy, which takes prairie dress prints and Laura Ashley ruffles and adds them to bikinis and one-pieces with an effortlessness that is unmatched.

10. Zulu and Zephyr

Picture your classic Australian surfer girl. Salt in her hair, effortless and oh-so-cool. Zulu and Zephyr is the embodiment of that ethos. 

With an ethically made swim in classic cuts, if you're fancying a balconette cut bikini, or a triangle cut two-piece, you will be hard-pressed to find a style from the label that you don't love.

11. Lido

Italian swimwear label Lido pretty much encapsulates the expression "dolce far niente." 

Made for those sweet and slow days and the beach, the ones where you lean into the pleasures of the heat, and surf, and sand, their suits combine the Italian fashion savoir-faire in all of its subtle sexiness, with simple cuts. 

Their one-pieces, in particular, are simply beyond.

12. Anemone Swim

Eco-Friendly Pick:

Anemone's minimalist line is made with certified eco-friendly fabric and has an added SPF protection factor, but the signature floral embroidery on their swimwear makes the pieces simply irresistible.

13. Follow Suit

Follow Suit's brand ethos can be boiled down to one notion: a day at the beach should be fun. 

Take that carefree attitude and apply it to swimwear that is sustainably made from ghosted fishnets and nylon waste. As a result, you'll get impeccably fitting and creatively cut swimwear that adds just the subtlest of twists to your favourite beach classics.

Read more

Eco-Friendly Swimwear Brands to Make a Splash in This Summer

Eco-Friendly Swimwear Brands to Make a Splash in This Summer

Is Fast Fashion Ethical?

Is Fast Fashion Ethical?

How Many Bathing Suits Should You Own?

How Many Bathing Suits Should You Own?