Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why Do Bikinis Cost So Much?

It's just a little scrap of fabric, cut and sewn into a couple of tiny pieces that hardly cover anything, right?  Well, speaking from experience, I can tell you that a LOT goes into the making of a great bikini.  I was a swimwear designer for many years and I could not believe how detailed and precise everything had to be to create a beautiful, well fitting swimsuit.  From the fabric, to exacting design, to swimwear safe findings, every minute, painstaking detail was important.  If your pattern was off just a 1/8 inch, the swimsuit may fit completely wrong. After all, a bikini is a very fitted piece of clothing compared to a tunic, or sundress and it has to go through many more fittings to really fit well.

Besides all of the details that go into making swimwear, there's also the logistics.  Most swimwear is sold in the US, but hardly any of it is made in the US.  The designer may be American, but to get his or her samples and production done just right, he or she usually has to do a lot of travelling back and forth to foreign counties and must be able to communicate effectively with the manufacturer, as well as with the fabric and findings vendors.  A single miscommunication can result in a sample, or Gawd forbid, a whole production, done wrong and then time and precious resources are wasted. 

Don' t forget, swimwear is a seasonal industry, with a very short window to get the product out the door and sold and last year's fashion statement isn't worth nearly as much.  The designer puts it all on the's risky business.  He or she could lose all of their money in a delays, or simple error that isn't caught along the way.  A dear friend once told me that, "Swimwear production is a slippery slope,"  and I know that she's absolutely right because anything can go wrong and many times does.

I once had lunch with a very experienced patternmaker who shared my love for swimsuit design.  She told me that she had once worked for a well known, discount, swimwear retailer.  Of course, I was envious until she let me in on the details.  She worked with them for over three years, trying to fix their bad patterns and poor fit.  The company's swimsuits were being manufactured in child labor sweatshops, in a small, foreign country.  Most of the people working on these swimsuits weren't even old enough to wear a bikini, not to mention that their Muslim tradition prevented that anyway.   They had no idea of what the swimsuit should look, or fit like.  My friend came home from that job with dubious thoughts.  She had hoped to improve the line, but the result was that the labor was cheap, the fabric and other materials were low quality and the end result was still a cheapy bikini that looked like a cheapy bikini.

My advice to customers is that you usually get what you pay for.  Don't settle for a swimsuit just because it's inexpensive.  It's better to buy a good label on sale, than it is to buy a low priced, bad label.  Shop carefully, watch the sales, which are usually around this time of year.  Always ask questions and never settle.  You'll find a wide assortment of high quality swimsuits on sale now at Tropi-Ties Swimwear.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at    

~ C.

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