Why Are Swimsuits Made of Synthetic Fibres?

The best swimsuit material is a contentious issue in the world of fashion. But in reality, there aren't many choices at all.

Quick-drying, colorfast, and a certain level of stretch are often requirements for swimwear textiles.

Let's talk about some of the various possibilities for swimwear materials and their distinct features.

The previous swimsuit line used to be made of stretchier cotton or woollen fabric, which used to absorb water quickly and couldn't withstand chlorine.

As a result, the designers and producers looked at alternative suitable options and came up with synthetic materials.

A polyester/elastane combination is the ideal material for swimwear. The extremely elastic material called elastane is more often known by the brand names Spandex or Lycra.

Polyester is a great option because it is colorfast and chlorine-resistant. Another excellent fabric for swimwear is nylon, but with time, it has a higher propensity to pill.

Comfortable and long-lasting fabric is required for swimwear. Polyester and nylon both exhibit similar properties when mixed with elastane. So let's examine how each one functions in swimwear.

All You Need to Know About Swimsuit Fabric

The majority of swimsuit material is designed to stretch to fit all those lovely curves and enable a secure and pleasant swim.

But the fabric must also be able to dry quickly and readily as well as keep its shape when wet. For this reason, elastane fibres are present in practically all swimwear fabrics.

When elastane, a synthetic fibre with elastic properties, was created in the 1960s, it completely changed the fashion world. The general word for Spandex or Lycra is elastane.

Don't get too caught up in the branding, though; Lycra, Spandex, and elastane are all the same stuff.

Elastane is combined with other synthetic fibres to create a stretchy fabric that is pleasant.

Depending on the manufacturer and the desired fabric properties, the blend varies, but generally speaking, it is created with 10%–20% elastane to 80%–90% other fibre (s).

Is Swimwear Fabric Important?

Making the ideal swimsuit material choice for competition or training might be challenging. It can be difficult to decide between the many high-quality brands available today, including Kiefer, Speedo, TYR, Arena, and Dolfin.

Additionally, there are many options for fabric, colour or pattern, and style.

Your goals as a swimmer should be reflected in the fabric you choose for your swimsuit: are you seeking for the best fit, durability, stretch, or all of the above? To live up to your aspirations, you must choose your swimwear carefully.

What Material Are Swimsuits Made Of?

Natural Fabrics

Swimsuits were constructed of natural fibres until flexible Lycra or synthetic fibres were developed.

Oddly enough, wool was one of the most widely used materials. Wool is used because it may be knitted into swimwear with a specific level of flexibility, according to the theory.

Additionally, wool was inexpensive and widely accessible, allowing swimmers to knit their own swimming costumes.

They could do this because knitting patterns were available in fashion magazines. From a modern standpoint, it seemed a little strange, but in the days before Spandex and Lycra, it was all they had.

Speedo, one of the top brands of swimwear today, began as a sock-making knitting factory.

Wool tends to absorb water, like the majority of natural fibres. It enlarges, gets heavier, and stretches out of shape as a result. None of which make bathing suits particularly endearing.

Wool and polycotton blends have been making a cautious comeback in swimwear due to the recent push for more environmentally friendly solutions.

Natural fabrics have a long way to go before they can match the greater swimming experience provided by synthetic materials, though.

Natural fibres will continue to be disregarded while selecting swimwear fabrics up until that point.


For many years, polyester fabric has controlled the fiercely competitive swimwear market. Polyester is the most popular material for competition swimwear, whether it is combined with Lycra® or used on its own.

The hand and feel of polyester have been improved by new technologies, making it superior to other materials.

Polyester is one of the most often used materials in clothing manufacture because of its soft fabric and exceptional durability.

It's an excellent option for swimwear because of how quickly it dries and how long it lasts, especially for competitive swimming.

This fabric is a good pick for any item likely to be worn on the beach or by the pool because it has built-in UV protection and the capacity to tolerate frequent contact with chlorine.

Synthetic Fabrics

Swimwear materials can be made from a limitless variety of synthetic fibres and fibre mixes.

The basic characteristics that modern swimwear requires to succeed in both the competitive sports and fashion spheres are abundant in synthetic materials.

The most popular option for appropriate fabrics is polyester. It is a long-lasting fabric that has inherent resistance to chlorine and UV.

The inherent properties of polyester make it the ideal material for swimwear when combined with the stretch of elastane.

Blends of polyester and elastane come in a variety of combinations. Some textiles will be higher in polyester and lower in elastane.

But the outcome is the same. A durable, fully practical article of apparel made to be popular on the beach or in swimming pools.

Elastane can be combined with materials other than polyester. Elastane and nylon can be combined to form a fabric for swimwear that goes by the names Spandex or Lycra.

Nylon can be harmed by chlorine and has poorer UV resistance.

However, if you're seeking for a one-season fashion swimsuit, it's still a good substitute for a garment made of polyester.

A polycotton-spandex knit fabric is less common but just as cosy. This choice combines the stretch required for swimwear with the appearance and feel of polycotton.

There are certain drawbacks to it. Because it contains some natural fibre, it takes longer to dry and ages more quickly.

Despite this, and depending on the polyester to cotton ratio, this fabric may end up being a strong and practical option.


Nylon, also referred to as polyamide, dries quickly and repels water. It is wonderfully cosy and flattering to wear, and is mostly found in fashionable swimwear.

Pre-consumer recycled material, which is a little less environmentally favourable than post-consumer, is commonly used to recycle nylon. This indicates that the components are derived from a waste stream that has not yet been utilised by the consumer.

Since this material is upstream of the customer, it has not yet been utilised by the consumer and is therefore more "raw" than post-consumer material.

Additionally, the origin of this material is occasionally a little dubious, which makes it simpler to "green-wash" this recycled product.

However, because it uses waste from the fishing industry in its recycled nylon filament, Econyl, a recycled nylon swimwear fabric, has received a lot of coverage.

Products made from recycled polyester fabric are now being produced by other businesses as well.

Upcycling plastic trash into the fashion industry is undoubtedly a good thing, even though there is some controversy about the environmental impact of the recycling process itself.

Fabric made of nylon is an alternative to polyester. Lightweight and providing a comfortable fit, nylon.

Nylon fabric is not as durable as polyester and is not resistant to chlorine, which are both drawbacks.

The fabric is appealing to look at and touch since it is soft with a subtle glossy sheen.

The fabric can be figure-hugging when combined with elastane, which can assist conceal body bulk.

It has consequently gained popularity as a fabric for swimming costumes, pools, and beachwear.


In the late 1950s, elastane was created for use in clothing. It is the common word for elastic clothing made by companies like Lycra and Spandex.

Elastane is a polyurethane substance that is entirely synthetic.

It was first developed to replace rubber, but it now has a wide range of industrial uses, such as heat and shock insulation.

To give clothing a pleasant stretch, elastane can be combined with synthetic fabrics or added to natural fibres. Its stretchy qualities also make it a perfect fabric for swimsuits.


Polybutylene Terephthalate, sometimes known as PBT, is a plastic yarn fibre with built-in stretch and recovery. PBT is a plastic from the polyester family.

Its texture is stronger with a lighter, smoother feel than other polyesters, although it is less elastic.

The material floats through the water when combined with the matte or somewhat duller finish. Another characteristic makes it ideal for competitive sportswear.


In the past, bathing clothes were made from natural materials like cotton or wool. Think of the fully covered beachgoers of the Victorian era.

Water retention is one of the biggest issues with natural fibres. Overly water-absorbing clothing might cause a swimmer to sink.

Or even worse, they lose their swimwear because it deforms and falls off.

These days, retro swimwear evoking bygone eras is made from bamboo and cotton.

These costumes are more appropriate for sunbathing on the beach or taking it easy in a deck chair than they are for regular or competitive swimming.


Neoprene is not technically a cloth because it is a synthetic rubber. Neoprene, which is the inner layer of insulating foam used in wetsuits, keeps surfers and divers warm, especially in the winter or in seas that are renowned to be chilly all year.

Because water is confined close to the skin, wetsuits get their name. The diver's body temperature is maintained at a comfortable level while body heat warms the water.

The bodies of the divers are perpetually damp, which is a drawback of neoprene.

Scuba Fabric

Scuba fabric is double-knit with a lot of elasticity, and it is occasionally mistaken for neoprene.

The fabric is fairly stiff and is made to resemble a Ponte weave. It is used to give clothing structure. Scuba has a similar general appearance and feel to neoprene, while not having an inner layer of insulating foam.

Your dive suit may limit movement in sports like volleyball because it is less flexible than a polyester-spandex blend.

But if you want your swimwear to have a structured wetsuit style, scuba is the right option for you. It's a terrific option for both style and modesty because it's strong, sturdy, and completely opaque.

Frequently Asked Questions About Swimwear

Which fibre is used for making swimsuits?

Nylon or a combination of lycra or spandex is used to make swimsuits. The fabric nylon absorbs minimal water and dries rapidly.

Due to its flexibility, spandex is a component of almost all swimsuit fabrics.

Are swimsuits synthetic?

Stretchy synthetic fibre is the ideal fibre content for your fabric when it comes to swimwear.

Swimwear materials are made by combining either polyester or nylon with elastane and are by nature strong, water-resistant, and quick-drying.

Can you wear spandex in the pool?

Stretchy spandex provides an extremely good, comfortable fit. Spandex is popular for its flexibility and elasticity, making it perfect for swimming.

Spandex suits must be cleaned in cool water after each usage because they don't withstand the harsh chemicals of the pool as well and can become discoloured.

What to Consider When Looking For Swimwear Fabric?

The last thing you want from a swimsuit material is for your bikini or swimming shorts to become transparent while submerged.

There are a few awkward issues that might arise from a fabric that shrinks when wet.

Look and Feel

Swimwear material must be attractive and boost your confidence. It ought to be supple, adaptable, and have a lovely pattern or print.

Let's face it; the majority of swimsuits in use nowadays don't leave much to the imagination. So that you don't feel uncomfortable wearing the item, it must appear amazing when it's on display.

Your assets should be highlighted by the fabric rather than diminished. If you have any physical anxiety, stay away from neon colours.


Your enjoyment will be significantly reduced if you are wearing an uncomfortable swimming suit.

Your freedom of movement is also protected. A swimsuit's fabric must be adaptable enough to accommodate bodily movement.

Additionally, it must be gentle enough to avoid rubbing and chaffing.

The better the material is for swimwear, the softer the better.


Swimsuits are intended to fit snugly.

The less likely they are to unintentionally fall off underwater, the better the fit. The fabric needs to be flexible and stretchy in order to be figure-hugging.

Unfortunately, a lot of swimwear is constructed with negative ease, leaving little room for movement when you're wearing it.

Make sure the cloth has enough elasticity to fit you and your demand for airflow. Look for fabric with a minimum of 60–70% flexibility in either direction and a four-way stretch.


Fabric for swimwear must be strong and resilient. It comes into touch with UV radiation and pool chemicals, both of which can lead to destruction.

The ability of any fabric to withstand harm from chlorine, sunlight, and other abrasives like sea salt is a crucial quality for swimwear.


When it comes to swimwear, this is a challenging checkbox to mark.

Because of their inherent robustness, toughness, and flexibility, synthetic textiles are the best. Unfortunately, out of all fibres, synthetics are the least sustainable.

Many use fossil fuels substantially and are petroleum-based. But all hope is not lost. You can significantly lessen the impact of your swimwear on the environment by thinking about recycled materials.


The cost of swimsuit fabric might vary.

Your choice will depend on your budget, ranging from the less expensive polyester-based textiles to the marginally more expensive nylon clothing.

The best fabric you can afford should be used for your swimsuit.

Choose a durable material for your swimsuit, and your investment will pay off with a suit that will still look beautiful after several swims.

Stretchy synthetic material that is chlorine and UV resistant is the ideal material for swimwear. You'll be more confident when selecting your cloth if you know what to look for.

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