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How to Start a Swimwear Line: Your Guide to Success in 2024


Swimsuits have long been at the center of fashion and cultural debates, making them one of the most controversial pieces of clothing. Over the years, they’ve turned heads and sparked significant changes in style and functionality.

The swimwear industry has transformed immensely over the last century, from full-body coverage to tiny bikinis. It has become a growing business, allowing ample room for new brands and ideas.

If you’ve ever dreamed of launching your swimwear label but don’t know where to start, look no further. This guide will walk you through all the important steps and answer any vital questions on how to start a swimwear line.

From market research to manufacturing and sales, you’ll be able to dive into the swimwear industry in no time.

1. Understand your audience

The first step in developing your swimsuit line is defining your target customer. Who do you want to sell your products to? Do you want to target just women, the main swimwear buyers, or the whole family? Why do your potential customers need a swimsuit—for leisure or performance?

Once you’ve figured out these primary questions, dive deeper into market research and learn more about your target audience. Exploring their wants and needs will help you identify the market gap and your possible competitive advantage.

One way to conduct customer research is to look at other swimwear brands in your desired niche and read what buyers say about their products. You can use Google search, marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon, and even social media to identify best-selling swimsuits and their pros and cons.

a collage of a man and a woman in garmentsSource: Awaythatday

Based on these findings, determine what your target customers care for in swimwear, whether they look for anything particular regarding quality and design, and what budget they would aim for. This will form a good foundation for developing your original swimwear brand.

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2. Develop your brand identity

A strong brand is the key to driving sales and customer loyalty in the long term. Therefore, once you’ve profiled your ideal customer and pinpointed your potential value proposition, it’s time to give your swimwear brand an authentic voice and identity.

That includes a unique name, logo, and compelling brand values that resonate with your target audience.

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Brand values

The core of any business is its mission and vision or, in other words, the main values it stands for and the ultimate goals it wants to achieve. Showing that you’re here not just for profit but also to tackle a particular customer or societal issue can help you outperform the competition.

Crafting brand values is a lot less complicated than it sounds. You could start with causes you or your target audience feel strongly about, for example, climate change or human rights, and integrate them into your products by opting for recycled fabrics, eco-friendly materials, and a fair trade manufacturing process.

If you’re just starting a clothing brand, you don’t even need lengthy statements to reflect your brand values. A few keywords in your company tagline or product descriptions will be enough to send the message.

Business name

Coming up with a business name may seem easy at first, but if you want your brand to stand out and be memorable, it has to be more meaningful than just your first name or initials.

The most successful business names are easy to read, induce positive emotions, and communicate the brand essence and industry it represents.

You could look at your competition for common patterns or use business name generators like Namelix or Looka for ideas.

These AI-powered programs use your keywords to create several brand names. For example, you could list “beachwear,” “swimsuits,” “elegant,” “nature,” and any other keywords that relate to your future products.

Consider creating a couple of business name options in case some are trademarked, or the domain name isn’t available.

Strong fashion brands are recognized by their name and logo. So, the next step in developing your swimwear line is creating a logo that solidifies your brand message.

Consider your target customers again and how you want your swimwear brand to be perceived—is it luxury or budget beachwear? Do you want it to evoke the feeling of fun or sophistication? This will impact the choice of colors, font, and shape of your logo.

If you already have a clear vision in your head and graphic design skills, sketch a few versions yourself. Otherwise, hire a freelance graphic designer to create a high-quality logo exactly as you want.

a screenshot of a computerSource: 99designs.com

3. Find your manufacturing partner

Starting a clothing brand from scratch can seem daunting, especially if you have zero experience in fashion design and sewing. Luckily, the days when that was the main obstacle keeping you from starting a fashion business are long gone.

You can now easily outsource production and manufacture your swimwear locally or abroad without technical knowledge. Of course, it takes time to find a reliable manufacturing partner that meets your quality and financial needs. Plus, you’ll often have to ask other swimwear brands for recommendations and pay a considerable amount, even for the first sample.

Alternatively, you could look in the print-on-demand direction and partner with a dropshipping company like Printful. In that case, you can develop a custom swimwear brand without worrying about minimum order quantity, storage, and delivery of your products.

Pro tip: Explore the possibilities of starting your swimwear line with print-on-demand and dropshipping in our guide: How to Start a Dropshipping Clothing Business.

a woman working on a machineSource: Printful

4. Choose the best swimwear fabrics and models

A memorable name and a trustworthy partner are only one side of the medal. The swimsuit fabric and model will determine whether your target customers prioritize your swimwear line over the others.

The swimwear market is dominated by three fabrics: polyester, nylon, and spandex. Leaning more toward one over the other depends on how elastic, durable, and lightweight you want your swimwear collection to be. Printful’s swimwear products are all made of a combination of recycled polyester and spandex, which is the industry standard.

Unless you prefer selling swimwear both for performance and leisure, the fabric will be more or less the same across the whole beachwear line, regardless of the swimsuit model. However, you have four options: a one-piece swimsuit, a high-waisted bikini, a string bikini, or swim trunks if you’re designing for men.

One-piece swimsuit

When it comes to beachwear, nothing says “classy” more than a one-piece swimsuit. It’s practical and modest, appealing to customers who prefer more coverage and support but can also exude elegance and chic, accentuating the body shape.

One-piece swimsuits allow a lot of versatility in terms of design and can help you create a swimwear line that attracts many. They look well monochromatic or with colorful patterns, and are also suitable for themed designs with custom texts or fun character outfits—think Christmas-inspired or bachelorette party styles.

a collage of a woman in a swimsuitSource: Etsy

High-waisted bikini

The style that boomed in the 1950s has made a comeback in the last decade. High-waisted bikinis are preferred by customers who adore the vintage look and prefer security over minimal tan lines.

This style is suitable for more than just the classic polka dots. It greatly accentuates tropical and floral prints and looks just as well with monochromic designs. You’ll benefit from including high-waisted bikinis in your swimwear line as they still claim several spots among the top swimwear brands, exhibiting popularity and demand across generations.

a woman in a garmentSource: Etsy

String bikini

Minimalistic and sensual—that’s what string bikinis are all about. They’re also the number one choice among frequent beach visitors who like the adjustable fit and minimal coverage and spend more time sunbathing than swimming.

While primarily appreciated by younger audiences, string bikinis have become a timeless classic that will find their wearers at different ages and add a playful touch to your swimwear line. They can also be just as versatile as high-waisted bikinis or one-piece models, offering padded and non-padded styles in different colors and patterns.

Swim Trunks

While designing for women, don’t forget to offer stylish swim trunks for men. It’s the most popular choice of swimwear among male customers due to their comfort, functionality, and versatility in terms of style.

Swim trunks work well with bright, colorful patterns and tropical motifs, but you can also include solids and custom prints to allow more personalization. 

5. Design your swimwear line

When you first considered starting a swimwear line, you probably had some innovative ideas about why the existing designs weren’t good enough or what shape and pattern you’d choose if you had to create your own bathing suit.

Now, it’s time to put these ideas on paper together with the findings from market research and design your original swimwear collection. During this process, you should also consider the latest trends in the fashion industry, as the leading swimwear brands usually set the tone for other manufacturers. You could also look through Pinterest for inspiration.

As with the brand logo, you could hire a graphic designer to transform your rough sketches into quality design files. However, if you decided to go the print-on-demand way, you could use the vast pattern and graphic database in the Printful Design Maker to create your swimsuit designs in minutes.

a screenshot of a patternSource: Printful Design Maker

Remember that swimwear manufacturing entails trial and error, and it may take several iterations to get your ideal design. Don’t be discouraged if your first sample is far from perfect. Focus on the fact that you’ve created a bikini line under your own label and keep trying until you’re satisfied.

6. Create a marketing plan

By now, you should have a clear idea of how to start a swimwear line. But production without a marketing and sales plan won’t get you far. You need a marketing strategy to get your swimwear brand in front of the right audience and make sales.

The classic 4 P’s (product, price, place, promotion) form the basis of marketing efforts for your swimwear label. You already have your products designed. Now, it’s time to set their price, define your distribution channels, and decide how you’ll promote your brand.

Price

Market research will help you establish the possible price range for your swimwear line. Consider if you want your products to fall in the exclusive or more budget-friendly price category.

You can also use the Printful pricing guide to determine how much to charge to make a profit. Remember to include the production costs and leave room for potential platform markups and discounts.

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Place

Your profitability will largely depend on your selected sales channels. Launching an online store is much faster and cheaper than a physical one, and it can reach global audiences.

Creating your own website with an online store integration is now easier than ever. You have several options, including Squarespace, Shopify, and WordPress (WooCommerce).

You’ll also need to register a domain name, for example, via GoDaddy—remember to keep it the same as your swimwear brand. Another option is to give up some customization possibilities and rely on online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon for sales.

a woman in a swimsuit sitting in a poolSource: Amazon

Promotion

Whether you choose to sell swimwear on your own website or online marketplaces (or combine both), you’ll need to invest in several online marketing activities.

Create social media accounts to build brand recognition and boost a loyal following for your swimwear brand. Instagram and Facebook could be a good start, and you can also consider TikTok to create fun, attention-grabbing videos.

Make sure you have high-quality visuals across all channels and post consistently to keep your followers engaged. It’s worth outlining a simple social media content plan, so you know what and when to post on each platform and can prepare content in advance.

If you launch a website to sell your swimwear lines, ensure it’s optimized for search engines before you start any campaigns. For example, you could create a blog section where you add style guides and other helpful content, making it easier for your potential customers to find you.

Besides regular, informational content, explore the possibilities of running paid ads on Google, social media, and online marketplaces to increase your reach.

Finally, if you still have energy and resources, consider launching email marketing campaigns to build customer loyalty and send exclusive deals.

7. Start selling

Once you have your marketing plan figured out, all that’s left to do is the actual sales. Depending on whether you have your own website or decide to sell swimwear using online platforms, the setup process could be vastly different and take a longer or shorter time.

Having your own website can grant you full control over branding and content, while Etsy and Amazon can quickly expose your swimwear to a broader audience, even if you’re a beginner seller.

It’s best to combine both options and diversify your sales channels to get in front of more eyes and test out the success of particular designs. Plus, different platforms may attract different audiences, as Etsy is geared more toward original creations and Amazon—mass-produced products with fast deliveries. Meanwhile, you can adjust your website to fit your ideal customer, but they can only find it through Google, social media, or direct search.

Before you start any campaigns and promote your business, make sure all the key product and shipping information, for example, swimwear sizes, material, fabric, and delivery times, is clear and easily accessible to avoid confusion and unnecessary returns.

Finally, the real work only begins after you’ve launched your store and made the first sales. It’s essential to provide good customer service and constantly innovate to encourage positive reviews and repeat purchases.

Pro tip: Learn more about selling successfully in online marketplaces in our guides: How to Sell on Etsy and How to Sell Print-on-Demand on Amazon.

Conclusion: Should you start a swimwear line?

Swimwear has become a wardrobe essential that enjoys high demand worldwide all year long. It’s gone from merely functional clothing to a fashion item, allowing high margins. This all makes selling swimwear an excellent business idea to try out.

Now you probably have a clear idea of the necessary steps to start a swimwear line. Focus on researching your market, creating high-quality designs, and investing your time in building a loyal customer base, and partner with Printful to leave all the manufacturing, storage, and shipping worries behind.

Take your time to design trending products that genuinely speak to your ideal customer, but most importantly—have fun while doing it, and you’ll see your business thriving in no time.



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