Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – The Aftermath and Why It Is So Important for the Swimwear Industry

What happens after all the hoopla about who will make the cover, the sexy, SI models’ delivery of the, “Top Ten List,” on David Letterman, the hype and the glam? Swimwear sales, that's what. The annual, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is extremely important to this small, niche industry in the fashion world. Besides the obvious benefit to the careers of the up and coming models, actors and athletes involved, SI provides a wonderful PR platform for swimwear manufacturers, new and old. It also showcases the swimwear retailers, giving sales a boost in the bum, so to speak.

This year, the Swimsuit Issue was especially imperative to all involved. Let's face it, the economy sucks and all retailers are having a tough time out there these days. For the swimwear industry, it's been especially hard. After all, bikini retailing is a seasonal industry, at best, and it's tied closely with the discretionary, travel industry, which has been treading water for quite awhile now.

Sports Illustrated delivers its most important issue of the year at the perfect time for swim retailers, the beginning of the swimwear season, just before Spring Break and summer vacations, which gets customers to start thinking about buying that swimsuit. Besides, it certainly does give swimwear a sexy, glamorous spin. Thank You SI! Who would have thought that a sports rag would have the savvy to promote fashion in such a big and timely way? The fashion magazines, who should be taking this job earnestly to task, have been missing the mark for years, choosing to feature swimwear in May, June and July, just as the buying frenzy has died down and the best styles are long since sold out.

So, just how, exactly, does SI effect the swim retailers with it's bathing beauties? I don't have the figures for other swimwear retailers, but I can tell you that we see a huge spike in sales the day after the release of the swim issue and the sales continue at a high level for at least 3 more weeks. This year, we may see even better results with all of the widgets, videos, calendars and other gizmos that SI is employing to promote their swimsuit properties.

As for the swimwear manufacturers, being featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is just pure gravy, after a long haul of designing, promoting, schlepping to the sales and writing orders. It's a fine, high note of recognition and sure increase in sales. It gives them courage to go on into the next season which starts only a couple of months later.

I can certainly attest. When I designed swimwear for our own, swim retail store, Tropi-Ties, we went to the swim show in Miami and met with several editors of various fashion magazines. They were all very nice and some of them did give us some good mentions.  (Thank You SEVENTEEN for all that great press.)  However, Diane Smith, senior editor at Sports Illustrated and in charge of the SI swim issue, and her staff couldn't have been more gracious, or more supportive. They took a few of our bikinis and yes, we made the swim issue that year....YEAH us!  But what's most important is that they went the extra effort to try to incorporate the newer lines like ours into the swimsuit issue, because they knew just how important it was to the swim vendors to be mentioned. It was, by far, better than any paid ad in a high-end style magazine. It was free publicity and it reached the everyday woman and her (sometimes gift giving) man.  And, if anyone thinks that girls aren't interested in sports, think again.

So, I guess that this is my long winded, "Thanks," to CNN's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for giving us swim people a break.  Bikinis and Jocks...It's a match made in heaven.  Thank You, Ms. Smith!   Thank you, SI!

~ C.

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