South Brooklyn has a machine that looks like a transparent casket and spins like an industrial fan. Its metal guts release the swimsuit within an hour, jumping and gliding until it falls from the lower abdomen of the machine like an egg.
It’s a high-tech process that looks simple. Click the button and get a nearly finished swimsuit. In a sense, it reflects an automated, on-demand, two-day delivery experience that defines the shopping of many in 2022.
But dozens of decisions were made before the swimsuit idea became concrete. In the end, it was priced at about $ 250 instead of $ 25. This is about the same amount that an adult woman spends on a swimsuit in the United States. NPD Group market research analyst.
Burger’s specialty is knit swimwear. Imagine a bikini paired with a ribbed sweater vest. Therefore, her yarn needs to be special. Due to its quick-drying properties, the suit retains its shape and is as stretchy and durable as nylon, a much more common swimwear fabric, while withstanding the sun and chemical damage.
Next are labor costs and manufacturing costs. After the sudden closure of a knitwear factory, Burger, who worked in Los Angeles last fall, her friend designed her at a company that manufactures all bespoke clothing in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park district. I recommended that you bring it to a tailored industry. With a computerized knitting machine — those spawning caskets.
According to Berger, the cost of making a swimsuit at Tailored Industry is about $ 65, excluding the thread she provides, comparable to the price paid for production in Los Angeles.
But it Much lower Production costs outside the United States. Few companies disclose pricing, but Everlane, a multi-million dollar basic brand, says it pays $ 3.90 for one person’s work. One-piece swimsuit Made in Sri Lanka.A small German swimwear company called Wanda He says he will pay 15 euros (about $ 16) for labor and manufacture of Portuguese bikinis.
When garments are made, most designers try to sell the goods in bulk to retailers such as boutiques and department stores.To Set wholesale priceDesigners usually double (or more) the total cost of making garments, including sewing, materials, and transportation. This allows designers to profit. However, stores use similar calculations to make their own profits. In other words, the final retail price seen by shoppers can be five times the cost of actually making a product.
In this way, a swimsuit that costs $ 65 to manufacture costs $ 250 to buy. This is not even very high markup. And that was the hardest part of getting her business off the ground, Burger said. magazine When Celebrity..
“Pricing,” she said. “We are all used to being really cheap and people don’t understand how expensive it is.”
Buy a swimsuit that used to be simpler
Ten years ago, Victoria’s Secret was a strong player in the swimwear market.when Stopped selling Swimwear in 2016 — this category was declining, but still accounted for 6.5% of the company’s business, or about $ 500 million — competitors saw an opportunity.
“It left a big hole,” said Jenna Lyons, then president and executive creative director of J.Crew. “But I think people were really anxious for something else. It was very restrictive when it came to how they talked to their customers.”
Rather than becoming “the sexiest game on the beach,” J. Crew positioned swimwear as more classic and simple, selling more “natural sexyness.” Chief Executive Officer of Love Seen, which sells false eyelashes.
Today, the swimwear market is thriving with young brands targeting all types of shoppers — Athletic, Minimalist, Tropical party girl, Shiny party girl — Generally in the price range of $ 100 to $ 400.The options are as follows OverwhelmingAmplified by the already emotional nature of swimwear shopping.
“For women, the most vulnerable time of the year is the swimsuit season,” said Lions, checking out a well-known list of anxieties such as body fat, paleness, cellulite, and gravity. “You are half-naked and want everything to be perfect.
“It’s a bit like your wedding day,” she said. “I have the same anxiety as going out to the pool or the beach. Everyone is looking at me! It may not be, but it may be. Therefore, swimwear is a place for women to spend. “
Some swimming labels build their identities around these anxieties. The Instagram-Popular Brand Summersalt, co-founder Lori Coulter, “makes sure women are comfortable with their swimsuits and body,” “to help women feel the joy they felt on the beach as a child.” It states. they have. “
Summersalt’s most famous suit, super-compressed One-shoulder design Expanded to size 24, developed using measurements from 10,000 female body scans, it costs $ 95. This is mainly because the company sells directly to consumers, avoiding wholesale price increases.
“The truth is that no one wants to pay $ 400 for a swimsuit, no matter what income group you are in,” Coulter said.
But they may do it anyway. Kristen Classi-Zummo, an apparel analyst at The NPD Group, says that quality has become a top priority for shoppers over price in recent years. “Consumers are shifting their focus to longer-lasting and more structured apparel. Swimwear is one of the main categories where fit and structure have proven to be very important.”
Once, J. During Lyons’ tenure at Crew, the company decided to offer some suits in lighter Italian fabrics of higher quality than typical nylon lycra, well above the retail price of $ 100. .. Executives were concerned. Brands needed to increase the minimum order for swimwear fabrics. However, “there was no resistance” from customers, Lions said, and the suit became a bestseller.
Small brands cannot always tolerate such risks. In 2016 Models and influencers Monti Landers usually choose fabrics based on what is already offered at the factory in China.
“It’s great to customize the fabric because it gives you the perfect color,” said Landers, but the minimum order requirements can be staggering. “What if that color doesn’t work? Then you have all the extra stock.”
Due to the rapid increase in fiber When Shipping costs In connection with pandemics and inflation, Landers recently had to raise prices. Her most popular design, Echo One PieceWith a deep V-neck, high-cut legs, and a thick shirring band on the waist, it took months to perfectly adjust the sample, but a year ago it was $ 99. Today it costs $ 150.
“We’ve been eating these costs ourselves for a long time,” she said.
So far, customers haven’t rebelled. “They know you get what you pay for,” Landers said. “Should I go to fast fashion and pay $ 20 for a one-time suit? That was me. Before I started the brand, I was a girl who had to wear a different swimsuit every time I went to the beach.”
Becca McCharen-Tran is accustomed to getting DMs on Instagram from people who want to collaborate. Usually that means they are offering to post about her brand, ChromatIn exchange for a swimsuit from her futuristic architectural line.
But that’s not what activists happened Tourmaline Reached out; she wanted to cooperate in a swimsuit for a transgender woman who wouldn’t push her genitals. This proposal has long been inspiring for McCarren Trang. Priority inclusiveness..
But as she began to embrace the idea of tourmaline, new challenges arose. The software that her pattern maker used to create design templates had only two options for 3D modeling of the avatar’s body: male and female. (Her factory also asked her if the swimwear was for men or women, McCarren Tran said.)
It may not cost more for Chromat to create a collaboration. This includes a dress that costs about $ 150 to $ 200, but it takes time. It takes extra time to research the market, discover solutions, and provide explanations. (Chromat is another brand that sells only directly to consumers online, but this is a recent development. A few years ago, when the label was sold in stores, swimwear prices ranged from $ 250 to $ 400. .)
Somersault’s Coulter estimated that the average one-piece swimsuit has 40 design components. Strap thread, lining fabric, watering or cup to give shape, hooks to close it, elastic stitching in the holes of the type legs. Each component has more questions. How do you make a size 8 dress that fits both A and D cups? Is the stretch too tight? How long is the torso? How wide is your crotch?
“This is a very specific measurement,” said Dana Davis, Vice President of Sustainability, Products and Business Strategy at Mara Hoffman, a women’s clothing brand in New York. “If it’s a little too wide, like a 1/4 inch, the fit of the swimsuit will change a lot.”
At Mara Hoffman, there is a one-piece swimsuit cost About $ 300How to customize fabrics that the brand has made bold prints of signatures (each swimsuit is digitally designed to have the same print arrangement) and is recycled and certified to be free of harmful residues. Price due in part. This year we will introduce the first swimwear made of cellulosic or non-synthetic materials. Given that the lead time for orders for recycled nylon, the main fabric, has been extended from 8 to 10 to 40 to 50 weeks, according to Davis, timing may not improve much.
However, for designers with sustainable value, the cost of manufacturing swimwear does not actually start to rise significantly after the design has already been set and until production begins.
“If you want to pay a living wage to the sewer, it costs money,” he said. Line with the same name For swimwear, lingerie and loungewear. “If you’re not going to make it in China and you’re not going to make a million Gajilion pieces, it’s the actual sewing that costs money.”
Yeramyan produces labels at a factory in New York City with a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour and a factory in New Jersey with a minimum wage of $ 13 an hour. This is about the same as the cost of one-piece swimsuits currently sold in fast fashion. Website Shane (Before price cut).
However, New York is not a popular market for swimwear production. That is, few specialized sewers know how to handle slippery fabrics that are smaller and more elastic than denim.
“My factory always tells me everything appear It’s really simple, but it’s very complicated, “Yeramyan said. “You are paying people. A better workforce, a better swimsuit.”
Still, she understands that not everyone can pay $ 365 for her one-piece cap, swimwear.But in her experience, especially to make swimwear Clipping design She likes “fighting the body and fabric”.
How to do it ethically? “It’s really difficult.”