the family that plays together stays together-
in sun-safe style
By N. Jayne Seward
Safety in the sun is a growing concern, and swimwear companies are stepping up to fill the demand for sun-protective beachwear for the whole family. For 2018, designers around the world are creating fashionable new silhouettes, vibrant prints, and mini-me matching looks with innovative functional fabrics that are making a statement both in and out of the water.
Coverage Is Key
Rhonda Sparks, founder and CEO of UV SKINZ, has made it her life’s mission to keep families safe in the sun. “Our collections have been based on customer demands and feedback,” explained Sparks. “As always, parents are demanding high-quality, full-coverage garments from us, and we continue to deliver these options.” UV Skinz’ popular Americana collection features matching/complementing styles for men, women and children. Being creative with design keeps swimwear and beachwear both stylish and cohesive. “We are seeing success when we introduce a new print for mom or dad, and then use the print in subtle ways in the kids’ styles, so there is cohesion but not necessarily a complete and total matching look,” said Sparks. Versatility is key; the company receives many requests for reversible styles in fun prints. For 2018, UV Skinz is introducing new developments in all of its main categories, such as woven board shorts for women and girls, reversible skirt wraps, swim dresses and cover-ups. Popular items in the collection include long-sleeve, breathable cover-ups in solids. Long sleeves and hats for kids should be on every buyer’s “must-have” list, said Sparks.
Rick Rickman and business partner Robin Chesnie, active surfers and water sports enthusiasts, are the founders of SLIPINS, a colorful line of 60+UPF sun-protective activewear for women. “We at SlipIns have become hyper-sensitive to the need for sun protection,” said Rickman, who added that people involved in water sports have become much more sun-savvy. In fact, the company has received requests from several women surfers, standup paddlers and canoers to make swim leggings in its colorful prints. Moms, he said, are also actively looking to protect themselves and their little ones from the sun’s damaging rays. Due to demand, SlipIns is now producing a line of kids’ sun-protective water wear that will be sold as sets of rash guards and shorts. The company is also offering a mini-me line for girls made in original prints, such as a popular “Under the Sea” print with starfish. “What has been very surprising to us is an inundation of requests from fathers who also have wanted to protect themselves from sun over-exposure and who are interested in some of our prints that will make sun protection a family-oriented affair,” said Rickman. In October, the company officially launched its men’s collection, which includes stylish rash guards, surf and dive suits, and leggings.
According to RASHOODZ’ CEO Laura Furiosi, coverage is not only functional, but it is the newest trend at the beach. The latest release from the Australian brand is its full-body swimsuit for infants and toddlers. Buyers and retailers need to have full-length arm and leg swimsuits on their “must-have” list, she said. “This is what parents are searching for,” said Furiosi. The long-sleeve, all-in-one body suit is a hit with both women and children. “Moms are also excited about getting matching swimsuits,” she said, and hot looks include anything with pineapples, flamingos, birds or jungle-inspired prints. “Being an Australian company, we try to use the environment for inspiration,” she said. “Everything here is always bright, so it is reflected in our prints and colors.”
Fashion Meets Function
Sun protection on its own is no longer enough, according to Maureen Schmidt, creative director/founder of SHADE CRITTERS. Fashion and function are both essential. “In general, we’re seeing buyers react to our fashion-driven silhouettes paired with unique construction and finishing details,” said Schmidt. “Today’s consumers are looking for on-trend, great-fitting, quality swimwear that excites them. Shade Critters has set out to reinvent sun-protective swimwear by incorporating playful elements that appeal to kids in mom-approved [modest] silhouettes,” she added. The brand’s long-sleeve two-piece sets with classic Palm Beach appeal are top choices, but its UPF50 one-pieces are also trending. Timeless botanical prints with unexpected trims continue to appeal to retailers, Schmidt said. New trends for the season that are retailing well include unicorns and anything with interactive novel designs, such as color-reversing sequins, metallic print techniques and water-reactive printing, such as mermaid scales that magically appear when fabric gets wet. This season the brand introduced several mom-and-me looks, including a matching scoop-back botanical one-piece with neon fringe, which has been on most orders.
Novelty design has proven successful for SHEBOP BEACH by Imagination Creation, which has been made in the USA for the past 18 years and offers high-quality swimwear and cover-ups for girls. The brand has made sun protection part of the novelty set; Shebop’s mermaid swim sets include a swimsuit and removable mermaid skirt. “Based in South Florida, we know how important sun protection is, especially for children,” said Kathy Link, president of Shebop Beach. “Not only do our items offer UPF50 protection from the sun, but we have also added items to offer more coverage, like the off-shoulder one-piece, long-sleeve rash guard and mermaid leggings.” The brand has seen an increasing interest in items with more coverage. Yoga pants and long-sleeve rash guards are in demand, Link said, as well as one-piece mermaid sets.
PEIXOTO, known for its fashionable women’s and girls’ swimwear, has recently launched Little Peixoto X Boys. The brand is also introducing sun-protective printed swimwear. “It’s the first time we are working with sun-protective fabrics, and we’re very excited about the added value,” said Mauricio Esquenazi, Peixoto founder and CEO. Key trends for 2018, according to Esquenazi, are color-blocking, clean designs and textures, as well as one-pieces, which are the “must-have” of the season. In addition, Esquenazi has noticed a big push toward rash guards for the entire family.
UPF50+ Fabrics Are Vital
PLANET SEA Founder and Designer Adriana Dranoff creates fashion-forward children’s swimwear, and she, too, has noticed a growing demand for sun-protective swimwear. Trends in the Brazilian market, she said, include textured fabrics such as lace and crochet-like fabrics that are being made with UPF50+ fabrics. “Buyers should always purchase cover-ups to match the suits,” said Dranoff. “Moms are always looking for sets. I have many styles of cover-ups with mid and long sleeves for protection.” The hottest looks this season, she said, are gypsy sleeves, and ruffle sleeves on one-piece and two-piece suits and cover-ups. Also trending are rash-guard suits, which she is offering featuring ruffles, pom poms and silver detailing. This year, Dranoff created boys’ spandex trunks in many fun prints to match suits in her girls’ collection.
Sun-protective fabrications are indeed the key for ensuring truly sun-protective swimwear. Colombian children’s swimwear brand KRIO + COLOR creates swimwear utilizing smart textiles with high-quality hhhUPF50 properties, which protect 98 percent against ultra-violet rays. The brand, created by partners Monica Ceballos, Pilar Ceballos and Giovanna Iannazzone, offers contemporary swimwear with fashion-forward styling. For 2018, popular styles for children in the sun-protective category are the brand’s new UV swim shorts, bold graphics and fun colors. Matching styles are also available for dads. Kids love the brand’s UV sunsuits, which are light, breathable, sporty and quick-drying. Plans are underway to develop infant sunsuits and leggings that offer more coverage.
SNAPPER ROCK has been pioneering sun-protective children’s swimwear since 2003 and launched its adult collection three years ago. Many of its prints and styles are designed to coordinate, from infants to adults. The company’s goal, according to Julie Rich, vice president, sales and US operations, is to produce safe, high-quality fabric that will protect the skin and to create swimwear that is fashionable, chic and super-comfortable. “It starts with our fabrics, and we take our fabric very seriously,” said Rich. “Making fabrics with a tight weave and low porosity along with rigorous certification processes allows us to provide the quality and protective swimwear that Snapper Rock is known for.” Popular looks for 2018 include Snapper Rock’s bandeau ruffle bikinis, halter swimsuits and ruffle sport bikinis in a variety of prints. For kids, new styles include the double cross back one-piece, and for infants, a two-piece ruffle set is the best-seller. Swim shorts and rash tops for boys are now available. Going forward, Rich expects the upcoming 2019 season will see bolder prints, more ruffles and fashion-driven suits. “Skin cancer is real, and I think people are looking for ways to cover up stylishly and safely,” said Rich.