Sunday, October 24, 2021

What’s in swimwear and why does it matter?

Written by By Katie Kilkenny, for CNN

For every woman who’s seen the broad-shouldered and female-centric T by Alexander Wang collection, women are also already turning their attention to the more slender-waisted swimsuits just waiting to be transformed into swimwear.

A photo posted by Kate Spade (@katespade) on Jul 4, 2017 at 10:41am PDT

A number of brands are flooding the market with swimwear that allows you to fit snugly into the water without it looking like a reveal.

“At New York Fashion Week, Alexander Wang moved to do swimwear where it was half the size of women’s clothes,” says Tavi Gevinson, 19, author of Tavi: Notes from a Young Writer. “That was super big.”

The current size of the average American woman is a 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A swimsuit should ideally be fit at or near that mark.

“The biggest thing is to make sure the fit is fitted,” says Eliza Tong of GapBody. “To be able to lift and separate a dress and a swimsuit. They’re at about the same size, but in the swimwear, it’s 90% swim and 10% dress. You can’t do that in a dress. You’re going to have trouble with shaping in that.”

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Given the current cold weather, “the swimsuit industry is super important,” says Thom Wallach, senior vice president of global swimwear for Gap. “We were offering three basic swimsuits that were $40 and $60 that sold very well, and within two weeks we had literally blown out the capacity of the manufacturing facilities we were using.

“The point of the caps was to make them made as lightweight as possible. Our warmests are $140, our coolest is $40. You get what you pay for, but not many people can afford that much. A little more innovation and differentiation at that price point.”

There are also large discrepancy at the bottom end of the pricing spectrum.

“I wore some of these swimsuits to my first morning swim class, and I had to use a sleeve for protection,” Gevinson said. “But I know they can be bought for $70.”

Alexander Wang Swim in Century City, California. Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

The message at Alexander Wang Swim was clear. “You can be 100 pounds and still look beautiful in the pool,” said a model named Aggie on the runway, dressed in a pink top and a two-piece, also made of ruffles. “Realistic beach bodies are already beautiful, but so many of us who dress a certain way on a regular basis are told to be a certain way. It’s not healthy.”

Tong is also skeptical about the fashion industry at large — and growing concerned about an increasing tendency for white models to be front and center.

“Swimwear is $100 or $140,” she says. “And you don’t have to cover up. Who are they wearing on the runway?”

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