Lingerie and Swimwear

Post-pandemic playbook: The new swimwear opportunity

At the height of the pandemic, retailers pulled back on their swimwear assortments and applied heavy discounts, says Kayla Marci of Edited. Now, retailers are introducing fresh product drops ahead of what Marci describes as an “optimistic summer reset”. Pre-pandemic levels of sales should be achieved by 2022, according to Euromonitor.

During the pandemic, buzzy luxury swimwear brand Ack came close to closure as sales crashed, says Axel Pani. But Axel and his wife, creative director Rebecca Larsson, came up with an agile response, deciding to go fully DTC and cut retail prices by around 50 per cent. They posted an infographic on their website costing out the labour and materials to make the Blasic, their €95 hero one piece and explained exactly how much profit the brand would make (€57.30). Ack then invited its customers to shop for handmade pieces from its website at lower cost, without wholesaler margins (the swimsuit previously retailed at €170).

The transparency worked. Ack is “stronger than ever”, says Pani. “In every crisis, it’s always a chance to rethink what you do. This was our case and we got lucky — things are picking up for us.”

Bigger brands are collaborating carefully with retailers. Lingerie company Wacoal, which owns legacy swim brands such as Fantasie, Elomi and Freya, saw sales plummet from May, usually its prime time for wholesale. “This year, we’ve been working really hard with our retailers to make sure that they’ve got the stock that they need, but they’re not left with a big exposure,” says sales director Theresa Garside. “We’re really optimistic that it will go back to pre-Covid levels.”

UK-based luxury swimwear brand Alexandra Miro is seeing sales rebound in 2021.

Alexandra Miro

While new swimwear arrivals haven’t yet returned to post-pandemic levels, there has been a noted uptick of 5 per cent on 2020, according to Edited. Consumers are now responding well to swimwear as a category, Marci says. Sellout on swimwear styles is up 13 per cent since April, compared with the same period in 2020.

Feedback from regions and countries that enjoyed a relatively Covid-free summer can help understand the potential of the category in 2021, Marci notes. In Australia, new swimwear sell outs grew 113 per cent throughout its December-February summer season. Alexandra Miro is seeing strong sales in the US and the Middle East, alongside healthy sales in the UK. All that suggests grounds for optimism about the summer to come.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Good American has annual revenues of $12.7 million. 

More from this author:

TikTok houses, FaZe Clan: Should fashion try them?

The new investment fund scaling African luxury brands

Genderless jewellery doesn’t have to be “neutral”