While swimwear picks up the pace in the e-commerce space, some brands are turning to styling services, apps and customization to help consumers remedy their issues with swim fit.
Too often ordering swimwear online remains challenging because, though it removes the often dreaded experience of trying on a suit in a fluorescent-lit fitting room, the issues with fit are still there and the variances in size across brands doesn’t help.
“Unlike other parts of fashion, where there may be variations but there is a large amount of consistency, swimwear is ‘hard’ not only due to various size runs across different brands, but also because it is so personal,” Bikini.com operations coordinator Andrea Kelly said. “Each person is looking for something different, and that something needs to flatter the body like no other piece of clothing.”
Adding to the pressure of finding the right suit is fit. Without being able to see, feel and try the suit on in person, consumers are often left with unreliable means for making a good purchase. What’s more, in addition to sizes, many shoppers need guidance when determining which style will flatter their shapes the most.
“The marriage of getting the right size and the right silhouette for your body is critical. If you are conscious about curves, the good news is that there are many more silhouette options than there used to be,” Alvanon senior consultant Alice Rodrigues said. “One of the things brands can do is educate people about how to choose the right size and not just the correct style for their body.”
Some e-commerce brands, including Mazu Swim, X Swimwear and Surania, are helping consumers shop for swimwear online with services that include technological innovations. Using styling services, apps and customization, these brands are able to tap into consumers’ style and fit preferences, while informing them on how to select the right suit.
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“The most critical thing for brands is understanding who their customer is, making sure they have the right standards in place, and how they will apply technology and fashion garment knowledge to deliver a better fitting product. Swimwear is always going to be more challenging than other product types because it is so personal and emotional,” Rodrigues said. “The technology will definitely have a huge impact on people’s ability to see a swimsuit before they buy it.”
Mazu Swim, a digital swim brand that delivers garments that fit sizes 4 to 24W, isn’t taking the one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to finding the right swimsuit.
“We saw a huge void in the market and we felt like women were being underserved in the swimwear category. From a design aesthetic, a lot more companies don’t focus on beautiful prints and comfortable silhouettes that treat a woman well,” Mazu Swim CEO and co-founder Kara Palmeri said. “We wanted to create a special and attentive service for women buying swimsuits.”
Mazu Swim’s fit guide claims to help women find their perfect suit in just a few steps. First, they need to measure themselves, but they’re not left to their own devices. Photos and instructions direct her on how to do it correctly. Shoppers then cross reference their measurements with their dress and pant sizes in the company’s size chart to find their Mazu Swim size. Finally, a shop by shape section is also included for consumers, allowing them to find the cuts that work for their body types.
If consumers are still unsure about the proper size suit to buy, they can reach out to a personal Swimsuit Pursuit Stylist on the website. Consumers fill out a short form with their measurements, problem areas and style, and the stylist will respond with recommendations.
Brooklyn-based swimwear line, X Swimwear, is using technology, including AI and digital platforms, to address this swim fit dilemma from the consumer and production perspectives.
The line, which is designed for women over 35, caters to the consumer demographic that doesn’t want a typical bikini or one-piece suit. X Swimwear’s technology enables the brand to customize suits based on shoppers’ measurements that offer more coverage in certain areas, including the arms and thighs, as well as alter necklines and leg openings for a more functional and customized fit.
“In order to get women into swimwear that actually fits them, we need to bring technology into the process for obtaining their measurements, but also use it to help the industry transition from batch manufacturing to flexible systems with capacity for greater diversity in sizing,” X Swimwear CEO and founder Sarah Krasley said.
Taking cues from her automotive and industrial design background, Krasley is developing Shimmy, a measurement automation and visualization platform that uses AR, AI and predictive analytics to streamline swimwear production.
The Shimmy technology is consumer-facing via an iPhone app, which enables consumers to enter 10 measurements that are used to customize their swimsuits. X Swimwear does not come in sizes. Each suit is made from the measurements shoppers provide through the app after check out. X Swimwear with the Shimmy technology is still in test mode and is expected to launch later this year.
When it comes to swimwear, some shoppers know exactly what cuts works for them, be it a triangle top with a full bottom or a bandeau and shorts duo. Further, colors and prints are highly personal. That’s why some rands like Spain-based Surania are going the on-demand route.
“Every person has their own style and everybody is different. We noticed that it was difficult to find a swimsuit that fits perfectly and at the same time you really like,” said Surania chief Marc Vidal. “This is the reason why we created this business model, to fit everybody perfectly with their own measurements and tastes.”
With its range of cuts, colors and patterns, Surania offers more than 8,000 swimsuit combinations. Consumers select a model they like along with details like ruffles, piping and drawstrings. Next, they choose from solid colors and prints for each area of the suit. Once consumers construct their favorite swimsuit, they can enter their own measurements or use Surania’s international sizing chart. Once an order is placed, Surania produces and ships the garment within 15 days.
“Nowadays, customers are always expecting something new and creative, without forgetting good quality,” Vidal said. “Since Surania was founded seven years ago, we’ve noticed a proportional increase in the demand of personalization as well as in tailor made swimsuits.”
Swim fit remains a challenge for consumers and brands alike, but considerable progress has been made in the past few years. With the emergence of creative solutions, including personal stylists, measuring platforms and personalization, brands can make buying a suit online worry free.