Swimwear Trends in Australia

Swimwear is one of the highest growing product categories for the Australian fashion industry. As a result, various homegrown Australian brands have become the market-leaders for this segment. In this report, find out the top performing brands, an overview on product sub-category, colour performance analysis and more.

By Atiqah Kamarudin

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Introduction

According to Euromonitor, the global swimwear market in 2018 amounted to USD21.7 billion and was growing at a time when overall apparel spending was flat. As consumers continue to spend more on travel, this category is set to grow year-on-year.

Australia has seen a big jump in its homegrown swimwear brands in recent years. With 10,000 recorded beaches and having more than 80% of its population living within 50km of the coast, the country is in a great position to gauge on the latest and hottest swimwear trends for the season.

In this report, we reviewed a total of 10 Australian swimwear brands retailing at The Iconic, David Jones, Myer, and Surfstitch, to analyse the trending swimwear styles offered in Spring 2019. Nearly 2,000 data points were screened from September to November 2019 on the Swimwear and Beachwear category.

The swimwear brands analysed were Billabong, Roxy, Seafolly, Tigerlily, Monte & Lou, Peony, Fella Swim, Zulu and Zephyr, Bondi Born, and Skye & Staghorn. In addition, we also assessed the plus-size offering by analysing City Chic, Autograph and Taking Shape.

 

All data used in this report comes from products retailing online, as tracked by Omnilytics, unless otherwise mentioned.

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Brand Performance Overview

Overall, Australia’s homegrown swimwear brands were active in introducing newness, yet failed to achieve high sell-outs in the marketplace sites.

Top Performers

Billabong, which had the largest assortment, performed strongly with nearly 80% sell-out rate and little discounting. Its affordable price point (2x lower than average) coupled with consistent trendy new arrivals contributed to its success during the season.

 

Underperformers

Meanwhile, Roxy had a lacklustre performance although it offered more than half of its assortment on discount and shared the same median price as Billabong. Similarly, Seafolly also achieved lower than average sell-out rate despite having nearly all of its assortment on discount. Monte & Lou did not manage to record any sell-out during the season even with having nearly 80% of new assortments.

On the flip side, Tigerlily recorded an above average sell-out rate (48%) but was mainly driven by discount.

 

 

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Key Subcategories

Swimwear contributed to more than 90% of the brands’ swimwear & beachwear assortment. Despite the rise in popularity of One Piece Swimsuits since two years ago, Bikinis still made up the bulk (72%) of new-in swimwear assortments this season. Bikini separates were the key volume driver, accounting for more than half of the brands’ newness.

As the athleisure trend showed no signs of slowing down, brands continued to invest in the sporty style of One Pieces, consistently contributing to 20% of overall assortment. Also, due to the huge surf culture in Australia, Rash Vests or Rashies was also a subcategory not to be neglected, although having a small contribution overall.

 

Subcategory Contribution by Brand

Billabong, Roxy, Seafolly and Tigerlily gained the competitive advantage by having a wider assortment breadth within Swimwear and Beachwear categories.

Fella Swim not only lose out by not offering any beachwear but also not diversifying enough especially in Bikini Sets and Rash Guards. Though Bondi Born did offer an extensive line of Resort Wear collection, it was not available in the retailer David Jones’ site.

Meanwhile, as other brands focused more on offering separates, Zulu and Zephyr chose to pay attention to Bikini Sets and One Pieces.

 

 

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New-In Styles

Overall, the silhouette for Swimwear this season had a classic ‘80s vibe and stressed more on comfort. They key styles spotted among the brands in focus included:

 

Comfort and Full Coverage Tops

Although the naked bikini trend with underboob top style and slash string bottom was on the rise, the classic and functional styling continued to be in fashion this season. Tops with more coverage such as bralette and bandeau were gaining momentum, accounting for 28% and 24% of the total’ newness, respectively. Billabong, Fella Swim and Zulu and Zephyr were among the brands popularizing this style.

 

High-Cut Bottoms

The ultra high-cut style that is renowned for elongating the legs remained a highly favoured silhouette, as seen on the Miami Swim Week 2019. This ‘80s style, which was made popular among celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner, contributed to a whopping 86% of total Bikini Bottoms and One Pieces newness.

 

One-Shoulder

One-shoulder trend that has dethroned the off-shoulder style in apparel, has transcended into swimwear. Although it represented only 10% of new-in Bikini Tops and One Pieces, the increasing new offerings in this neckline sealed its popularity. Fella Swim and Skye & Staghorn have also invested in this style this season.

 

 

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Colour Performance Analysis

Core vs. Fashion Colours

Similar to apparel, the core colours particularly black, white and blue, dominated the top 3 colours for swimwear. These colours contributed to more than half of the brands’ total assortment and newness. Brown as expressed in the shades of nude following the neutral, tonal trend, was also popular. The continued popularity of animal prints also contributed greatly to the neutral palette.

Fashion colours shaped swimwear this season with red, orange, pink, and yellow consistently drove large contributions in both assortment width and newness. Yellow saw a growing popularity as the only fashion colour that made it to the top 5 new-in colours.

Other notable fashion colours this season included a combination of pastel shades such as sky blue, baby pink and lavender, as well as bright orange, red and fluorescent pink.

 

Prints vs. Solid

Solid colours still made up the bulk of this season’s swimwear, representing nearly 70% of total newness. Fella Swim kept to its minimalist style, with zero offering on prints.

Animal prints showed no signs of slowing down as the wild print topped the most popular print invested by brands this season. Stripes, which appeared across seasonality also contributed to 27% of new printed swimwear. Other notable prints included tropical and floral prints.

 

 

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Size Inclusivity

Inclusivity continued to be an increasingly hot topic in fashion, especially one that revolved around plus-size. With the growing demand for plus-size fashion coupled with the increasing interest surrounding this segment (Chart 6), extended sizes in swimwear is fast becoming a staple.

Despite strong demand, most of the 10 brands analysed only offered sizes up to AU14, except for Seafolly with sizes up to AU18. Extended sizes were also absent from the brands’ offering in the multi-label retailer sites.

Consumers are thus limited to plus-size specialist brands such as City Chic, Taking Shape, Autograph and global fast fashion brands, namely ASOS and Boohoo.

 

Plus-Size Swim Trends

Analysis drawn from the top 3 biggest players in the plus-size scene, City Chic, Taking Shape and Autograph, found one-shoulder Bikini Tops and One Pieces to be popular. Having said that, most of the offerings remained modest and conservative, as Tankinis accounted for nearly 30% of the brands’ total newness. Other popular silhouettes included high-waisted briefs and flowy swimdresses.

Animal, tropical and floral prints were the most common prints in this segment’s newness. City Chic was more progressive in its style offerings, with colour-blocking, cut-out and low-cut tops.

 

 

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Sustainability

On the ethical and sustainability front, plenty of Australian swimwear brands are already onboard – offering both eco-friendly and trending designs.

6 of the 10 brands analysed – Peony, Tigerlily, Billabong, Roxy, Seafolly, and Bondi Born, were already focused on sustainable innovation. A total of 144 new-in SKUs were made from sustainable and recycled materials. Peony for instance, used Econyl in their pieces and has also developed in-house sustainable lining. Its collaboration with Net-a-Porter during the year was also made entirely of sustainable fabrics. Meanwhile, Tigerlily’s swimwear products were not only made using recycled material but the brand also introduced compostable packaging for all its online orders.

Despite focusing on ethical manufacturing, the brands did not compromise on style as the design remained fashion-forward.

Other conscious Australian brands that jumped on the bandwagon included Salt Gypsy, Baiia, Vege Threads, Camp Cove Swim, She Made Me, and Shapes in the Sand. With sustainability being another hot topic in fashion, more homegrown swimwear brands are expected to follow suit.

Omnilytics data revealed that there were nearly 700 new-in SKUs retailing at The Iconic, Myer, David Jones and Surfstitch that were made from recycled fabrics.

 

 

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Digitally-Native Brands

As brands and consumers increasingly rely on Instagram – from spotting emerging trends to selling and buying products, more brands have popped up on this digital space. Swimwear is one of the ideal products for Instagram algorithm due to its engaging nature. As a result, even more swimwear brands have appeared in this space as the platform provides a huge opportunity for them to easily widen their reach.

Australia is not to be excluded, as many of its known swim brands started digitally and have since been massively successful. This included Triangl Swimwear, Frankii Swim, In Your Arms, Bamba Swim, and May & Hugo. These swimwear brands have also been very popular among the celebrities, as seen on Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna.

Most of these brands are not communicating on being ethical only in their production to influence consumers, but are also highly engaging; featuring images of real consumers wearing their products on their social network.

 

 

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Conclusion

Main Findings

Classic Styles to Stay: The micro and skimpy swimwear that was made popular by Emily Ratajkowski from her Inamorata swim line has also influenced other brands to release similar bikini styles. This risqué trend could be found from global fast fashion brand, PrettyLittleThing to Australian homegrown brand, Beginning Boutique.

However, vintage and classic silhouettes has proven to be more commercial and acceptable by a larger audience. Furthermore, with some parks in Australia started banning cheeky bikini bottoms, the classic covered style will continue to be a safer choice to invest for both brands and consumers. Besides, while trend is a great way to drive a business, offering a good fit and material matter most for active lifestyle categories such as swimwear.

 

The Importance of Fashion Colours and Prints: While the core colours of black and white remain popular, fashion colours are equally important to get right for swimwear. For instance, yellow, which was one of the trending colours in Spring/Summer 2019 also emerged as the popular colour in swimwear this season. With more celebrities donning bright-coloured swimwear on their Instagram, this flags as a huge missed opportunity for brands that only stick to core colours for this category.

 

Next Steps for Brands

Be Inclusive: With plus-size clothing regarded as a lucrative segment worldwide, having extended sizes is even more crucial to have now. As discussed in earlier topics, diverse sizing was still overlooked by the brands and retailers analysed. In addition, most plus-size specialist brands lacked in trendy swimwear offerings.

Modest swimwear is another segment not to be ignored. Although Nike has recently ventured into modest swimwear, this market remains largely untapped. With Muslim fashion forecasted to reach $361 billion by 2023, this signals a huge opportunity for brands to tap into, as well as a great effort for brands to start being inclusive.

 

Expand Assortment Width: As the swimwear space gets increasingly saturated even on Instagram, brands need to innovate and find ways to stand out. Having a wider breadth of assortment within swimwear, as well as beachwear or resort wear, will help brands to offer consumers a complete mix of items that is essential for a beach vacation.

To avoid risky investments, brands approaching this strategy should rely on real-time market data to make informed decisions.

 

 

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