South Brooklyn has a machine that looks transparent Coffin And whirs like an industrial fan. Its metal inner parts fly and glide, until, within an hour, it leaves the swimsuit, falling like an egg from under the machine.
It’s a high-tech process that seems simple: click a button, get a very almost finished swimsuit. In a way, it reflects the automated, on-demand, two-day shipping experience that defines shopping for more people in 2022.
Yet dozens of decisions were made before the idea of that swimsuit became a tangible matter – the decisions eventually led to its price hovering around $ 250 and $ 25, which is almost an adult’s amount. Women According to market research analysts at NPD Group, swimsuits are spent in the United States.
But what do those decisions involve? What makes a swimsuit so valuable in this economy?
Clothing, for one. In this case, the source from a soft thread Japan After years of trial and error by Deta designer Anna Berger.
Berger’s specialty is woven swimwear – imagine if the bikini is paired with a ribbon Sweater vest. As such, her yarn needs to be special: it dries quickly, so the suit retains its shape, and is resistant to sun and chemical damage, but as long and durable as nylon, very common swimwear.
Then there are labor and production costs. Last fall, after the sudden closure of a knitwear factory where Berger worked in Los Angeles, a friend recommended that he bring his designs to the tailoring industry, which is one of the company’s companies. Sunset Brooklyn’s Park Neighbor who produces whole pieces of made-to-order clothing on computerized knitting machines – those egg-laying coffins.
According to Berger, swimsuits produced in the tailored industry cost about $ 65, excluding the yarn he provided – compared to the price he paid for the product. Angels.
But compare with the much lower cost of production outside the United States. While very few companies reveal their pricing structure, Everlane, a multi-million dollar basic brand, pays $ 3.90 for labor in a single-piece swimsuit made in Sri Lanka. A small German swimming company called Wonda says it pays 15 euros (about $ 16) for labor and production. Bikini Made in Portugal.
Once a garment is made, most designers try to sell the pieces in bulk to retailers such as boutiques and department stores. To set their wholesale price, Designers The total cost of making double (or more) garments in general, for example, sewing, materials and transportation, is how they make a profit. But stores then use the same math to generate their own profits, meaning that the final retail price seen by a store may actually be five times the cost of making the item.
It costs $ 65 to produce a swimsuit that costs $ 250 to buy – not even an exceptionally high markup. And that has been the hardest part of getting his business off the ground, Berger said, whose brand failed to make a profit last year, despite magazines and some support. Celebrities.
“Pricing,” she said. “We’re used to everything being really cheap, and people don’t realize how expensive it is to make it.”
Buying a used swimsuit to be simple
A decade ago, Victoria’s Secret was a powerful player in the swimsuit market. When it stopped selling swimwear in 2016 – the category was declining but still 6.5% of the company’s business, or about $ 500 million – competitors saw an opportunity.
“It left a big hole,” said Jenna Lyons, then president and executive creative director of Jay Crew. “But I think people were really looking for something else. It was very restrictive in terms of the way they talked to the customer.”
Instead of trying to be the “sexiest game on the beach” J. The crew kept their swimsuits as classic and simple, selling more “natural sexuality”, said Leons, who left the company in 2017 and is now the founder and CEO. Of LoveSeen, who sells false eyelashes.
Swimwear today The market Shopping for all kinds of young brands – Athletic, Minimalist, Tropical Party Girl, Dazzling Party Girl – is usually targeted at prices ranging from $ 100 to $ 400. The options can be overwhelming, extended by the already emotional nature of swimsuit shopping.
“For women, the weakest time of the year is the swimsuit season,” Lyons said, closing the familiar list of vulnerabilities: body fat, paleness, cellulite, gravity. “You’re half-naked, and you want everything to be perfect.
“It’s a bit like your wedding day,” she said. “It simply came to our notice then Anxiety Walking out in the pool or on the beach. Everyone is watching me! Maybe they are not, but they can be. And because of that, swimming clothes are a place for women to spend. ”
Some swimming labels have made their mark around these insecurities. Dedicated to the Instagram-popular brand Somersalt, its co-founder Lori Coulter said, “To enable women to feel the joy we all felt on the beach as babies,” and “to make sure they are comfortable in the swimwear they wear. And the body they have.” . “
Summersalt’s most famous suit, a super compressive One shoulder Designed using size measuring up to 24 women and measuring from 10,000 women’s body scans, costs $ 95. This is largely because the company sells directly to consumers, ignoring wholesale markups.
“The truth is, no matter what income bracket you’re in, no one wants to pay 400 for a swimsuit,” Coulter said.
But they can do it anyway. Kristen Classy-Jummo, a garment analyst at NPD Group, said in recent years, quality has become a top priority for shoppers. “We see consumers focusing on long-lasting, well-constructed clothing,” she said. “Swimsuits are one of the main categories where we know fit and construction are very important.”
Once, j. During Cruma Lyons’ tenure, the company decided to offer some suits in lighter Italian fabrics of higher quality than its usual nylon lycra, which ran a retail price above $ 100. Executives were concerned; The brand had to place high minimum orders for its swimwear. But there was “no resistance” from customers, Lyons said, and the suits became bestsellers.
At Mara Hoffman, a piece of swimsuit costs around $ 300, which is how the brand creates its signature bold prints (digitally engineered so each swimsuit has the same print placement) and customizes it. Clothes, Which is certified as recycled and free of harmful residues. This year, it will present its first swimsuit made of cellulosic, or non-synthetic, material. The lead time for ordering its main fabric, recycled nylon, has increased from eight to 10 weeks to 40 to 50 weeks, Davis said.
Still for designers with Sustainable Values: Once the design is already set, the cost of making swimwear doesn’t really increase significantly until production starts.
“If you want to pay your wages live, there’s a cost,” said Arax Yereman, creative director of the swimwear’s NameSec line. Lingerie And lounge. “If you’re going to make in China, and you’re going to make a million gazelle pieces, this is the real sewing that costs money.”
Yereman produces her own labels in a factory in New York City, where the minimum wage is १५ 15 an hour, and in New Jersey, where it is डलर 13 an hour – the price of a piece of swimsuit now sold on the fast fashion website Sheen. (Before markdown).
But while New York is not a popular market for swimwear products, it does mean that there are a few specialized vendors who know how to work with fabrics that are small, stretchy and slippery. Denim.
“My factories always tell me that everything looks really simple but it’s very complicated,” Yeraman said. “You’re paying for people. Good quality labor, high quality swimsuits.
Still, she understands that not everyone can afford to pay 365 for a swimsuit, which is the upper range of her one-piece. But in her experience, to make a swimsuit, especially with the type of cutout Designs She likes to fight with body and clothes, she said.
To do ethically? “It’s really hard.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.