What Is The Best Swimsuit Fabric?

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Are you looking for a fabric for your swimwear, then you must have to know about the fabric types and what fabric will be best for your swimsuit.

This article will cover the swimsuit fabric, types to make a swimsuit, and qualities.

Keep in mind no fabric is better than another, but just the attributes of the fabrics make them the best fabric for different uses.

Not only has that, but the quality of the fabric also kept it apart from others. Let's discuss different options for swim fabrics and their various characteristics.

Selecting the suitable swimsuit material for your needs makes your purchase more convenient.

All You Need to Know About Swimsuit Fabric

Most swimsuit fabric is meant to stretch to fit all those gorgeous curves and to allow for a comfortable and safe swim.

The fabric also needs to be able to both hold its shape when wet and to dry easily and quickly. For this reason, almost every type of swimwear fabric contains elastane fibers.

Elastane is a synthetic fiber with elastic qualities that revolutionized the fashion industry when it was developed in the 1960s.

Elastane is the generic name for Lycra or Spandex. Lycra, Spandex, and elastane are all basically the same thing, so don’t get hung up on the branding.

Elastane is blended with other synthetic fibers to provide a comfortable stretch. The blend varies based on the manufacturer and the desired qualities of the fabric, but generally it is made with around 10%-20% elastane to 80%-90% other fiber(s).

What Material Are Swimsuits Made Of?

Natural Fabrics

Before the invention of synthetic fibers or stretchy Lycra, swimsuits were made from natural fibers.

Weirdly enough, wool was one of the most popular.

The thinking behind the use of wool, it has a certain amount of elasticity, so it could be knitted into close-fitting swimwear.

Wool was also readily available and affordable, meaning swimmers could knit their swimming costumes. There were knitting patterns in fashion magazines to enable them to do this.

Slightly bizarre from a modern-day perspective, but it was all they had back in the days before Spandex and Lycra. One of the leading names in swimwear today, Speedo, started as a knitting factory making socks.

Like most natural fibers, wool tends to soak up water. This causes it to expand, become heavy and stretch out of shape.

None of which are endearing qualities when it comes to bathing suits.

With the recent push for more sustainable options, wool and polycotton blends are slowly making their way back into swimwear.

There’s still a long way to go before natural fabrics can come close to the superior swimming experience offered by synthetic materials. Until then, natural fibers will continue to be ruled out when choosing suitable fabrics for swimwear.

The change from natural to synthetic fibers is all down to the introduction of Lycra back in the 1950s.

Swim-orientated garment design was revolutionized. Leading to groundbreaking progress in the development of swimwear.

Synthetic Fabrics

The list of synthetic fibers and blends of fibers is endless for suitable fabrics for swimwear.

Synthetic materials are brimming with the essential qualities today’s swimwear needs to perform in both competitive sports and fashion arenas.

Topping the choice of suitable fabrics is polyester. A fabric with built-in resistance to chlorine and sunlight, it’s both easy to care for and durable.

When blended with the stretch of elastane, the inherent qualities of polyester make it the perfect option for swimwear.

There are different combinations of polyester-elastane blends. Some fabrics will contain more polyester, others more elastane.

The result is the same, though. A fully functional, resilient piece of clothing designed to be a hit in the pool or by the beach.

Elastane can be blended with other fabrics besides polyester. Going by the names Spandex or Lycra, elastane can be coupled with nylon to create a swimwear fabric.

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Nylon is less UV resistant and can be damaged by chlorine. It’s still a suitable alternative to a polyester-based garment, especially if you are looking for a one-season fashion swimsuit.

Less popular but just as comfortable is a polycotton-spandex knit fabric. This option combines the look and feel of polycotton with the stretch needed for swimwear.

It comes with some disadvantages. Being part-natural fiber affects its ability to dry quickly and it tends to fade at a faster rate. Despite this and depending on the ratio of polyester to cotton, this fabric has the potential to be a durable and viable choice.

What is the Best Swimsuit Fabric?

Swimwear fabrics are quick-drying, colorfast, and have a certain amount of stretch. Most swimsuit material is intended to stretch to fit all those elegant curves and allow for a comfortable and safe swim.

The best swimsuit fabric holds its shape when wet and dry quickly. Almost every type of swimwear fabric has elastane fibers to make the fabric the best fabric for swimsuits.

Elastane is a perfect synthetic fiber with elastic qualities and blended with other synthetic fibers to provide a comfortable stretch. It was developed in the 1960s in the fashion industry.

The blend is different based on the manufacturer and the desired qualities of the fabric, but generally, it is made with around 10%-20% elastane to 80%-90% other fiber.

Elastane is the other name for Lycra or Spandex. Lycra, Spandex, and elastane are the same thing, so don't get hung up on the branding.

Keep scrolling for more detailed information about swimwear fabric. 

Swimsuit Fabric Types

Naturally, swimming suits are a very comfortable fabric to wear out there; if you keep your dignity at sea and you look good, you think your job is done.

Because of its toes, the line between utility and fashion, swimwear has a subtle layer of sophistication: A well-designed swimsuit should not only look good, it needs a strong, lightweight, and water-resistant fabric.

For both men and women, many suits feature a combination of different fabrics - including natural materials and synthetic materials - and each brings different qualities to the table.

Nylon Fabric 

Also known as polyamide, nylon is quick-drying and water-resistant. Found primarily in fashionable swimwear, it is incredibly comfortable and flattering to wear.

Soft with a slightly glossy sheen, the fabric looks and feels attractive.

When mixed with elastane, the fabric can be figure-hugging, which can help hide body fullness.

Because of this, it has become a popular material for swimming costumes, pools, and beachwear.

If you take a swimsuit rack, there is a good chance that it contains nylon. Nylon spandex fabric for swimwear is a lightweight fiber that provides many stretches to expand the moisture, making for quicker drying times.

On the flip side, nylon swimwear can shrink or fade after prolonged exposure to the sun.

While it is possible to get straight nylon swimsuits, it is possible to blend with spandex to provide advanced stretching.

Typical formations will be 80-90% nylon and 10-20% spandex - larger spandex and more body-hugging the swimsuit.

Pros

  • Durable and easy to launder
  • Soft and comfortable to wear
  • High elasticity giving ample flexibility

Cons

  • Not UV resistant
  • Easily damaged by chlorine
  • Can’t be printed on due to a tendency for color to bleed

Elastane

Elastane was developed for apparel use in the late 1950s. It’s the generic name for the elastic fabric found in brands like Lycra and Spandex. A 100% synthetic material, elastane is polyurethane.

Originally introduced to replace rubber, it also has a wide range of industrial applications, including shock and heat insulation.

Elastane can be used with synthetic materials or added to natural fibers to give garments a comfortable stretch. Its elastic properties make it an ideal fabric for swimwear.

Pros

  • Very stretchy and flexible
  • Apparel is form-fitting, creating attractive silhouettes
  • Moisture-wicking properties

Cons

  • Not biodegradable
  • In-depth and extensive production process
  • Can be expensive

Polyester Fabric Blends

Polyester swimwear fabrics, combined with Lycra (or spandex), have a high degree of durability. Stretch polyester, however, is the most common category.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different compounds from various fabric mills.

For each type, the mixing percentage of poly to spandex will vary to some degree.

Spandex swimsuit lends much modern swimwear, though it is not the only fabric.

As part of a combination of materials, soft and flexible spandex enhances the stability of the swimsuit; spandex more with a suit, shaping the body a lot.

This makes it a vital component in competitive swimwear. Spandex slims the figure, but chlorine takes a toll on its elasticity over time.

The solidity of the knit and the elasticity will vary as well. The main difference in quality is related to the quality of the thread used in the fabric mill to make the fabric.

For that reason, you will find a much more comprehensive range of how polyesters look and feel.

The thick thread will usually be a fabric for a thick feel. A thin, smooth thread will lead to a smooth, silky feel. It is essential that you feel the fabric and stretch it yourself before choosing the last one.

Whether looking at swimwear blends, you'll often see the terms "Lycra," "Spandex," and "Elastane."

Functionally, you won't notice a little difference between swimwear made with any of these 3 or any of the other brand-name elastane fibers you might find. 

Pros

  • Durable and colorfast
  • Resistant to chlorine and UV light
  • Easy to launder and holds its shape well
  • Moisture resistant

Cons

What Other Fabrics Can Be Used in Swimwear?

Spandex bikinis

Several activities require swimwear, including scuba diving and swimming. Swimsuits are also used away from the water in sunbathing, beach volleyball, body-building, and beauty contests.

Let’s take a look at some other fabrics associated with fun both in and out of the water.

Neoprene

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber and not technically a fabric. Used for wetsuits, neoprene is the inner layer of insulating foam, keeping divers and surfers warm.

Particularly in winter or in seas known to be chilly all year round.

The reason they are called wetsuits is that water is trapped close to the skin. As body heat warms the water, the diver’s body temperature is kept at a comfortable level.

One disadvantage with neoprene, the divers’ bodies are always wet.

As a swimsuit material, this constant wetness near the body can be an issue. In warm weather, the trapped warm air can cause overheating.

The material can be uncomfortable to wear and difficult to get on and off. Many surfers and divers tend to wear a swimming costume underneath their wetsuits to prevent them from sticking to their skin.

Scuba Fabric

Sometimes confused with neoprene, scuba fabric is double-knit with lots of stretch.

Like a Ponte knit in construction, the fabric is quite stiff and used to create structure in garments.

Although it lacks the inner layer of insulating foam, scuba’s overall look and feel is the same as neoprene.

Not being as flexible as a polyester-spandex mix, your scuba suit might restrict movement in activities like volleyball.

But, if a structured wetsuit look is one you are looking for in your swimwear, scuba is the choice for you.

Durable, resilient, and fully opaque, it’s a great choice for both style and modesty.

Lycra Fabric 

We've heard of Lycra and Spandex, but did you know that they're the same thing?

Lycra is just a trademark of the brand of spandex produced by Dupont Company - in terms of architecture, and there is no difference between both fabrics. 

As anyone who has ever worn it will know, spandex has excellent potential to advise on large quantities before returning to its original state.

Usually, spandex is mixed with other fibers to enhance flexibility: when combined with nylon or polyester, it makes swimming with excellent control, stretching, and durability.

Just remember that the higher the spandex blend, the more figure-hugging it'll be.

Why is Polyester Swimwear Fabric best for Swimsuit Fabric? 

The qualities of polyester fabric that are most relevant to swimsuit fabrics are:

Polyester is a highly recommended fabric for swimwear due to its durability. It holds its shape well in and out of the water. It resists pilling (the little balls of fuzz that can appear in the crotch and armpit areas).

Polyester also holds color very well in both dyes and prints. New poly fabrics have improved dramatically and become quite soft, though not quite so as nylon.

Conclusion

The best fabric for swimwear is a stretchy synthetic with chlorine and UV resistance. Knowing what to look for will help you choose your fabric with greater confidence.

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