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A Study Of The Swimwear Industry In North America

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A Study of the Swimwear Industry in North America

Table of Contents


Ш Introduction

q Mission 2

q Briefing 2

Ш Historical Timeline of the Bathing Suit

Ш Secondary Data Search

q The North American Swimwear Market 4

q Influential Factors of Demand 5

q Swimwear Industry 9

q Brands 10

q Manufacturing 13

q Distribution 13

q Retailing and Advertising 16

q External Factors 17

Ш Strategic Assessment

q Changes in the Past Five Years 18

Ш Future

q Increasing Obesity 20

q Increasing R&D 20

q Sunbathing-Related Health Concerns 21

Ш Primary Research

q Interview 22

q Independent Local Market Study 23

Ш Recommendations 25

Ш Limitations 26

Ш Conclusions 26

Ш Appendix 27



The intent of this study is to become well informed of the North American swimwear industry, to discover opportunities that have not been exploited, and even try to determine where the industry is heading. This information is very beneficial to one of our group members, Andree-Anne, who presently designs her own swimsuits and is very interested in opening a new type of retail store. She sees a potential in creating swimwear that blends element of fashion and competition to extend its utility, durability, and comfort. The new retail concept would also have a made-to-fit order policy to provide the best fit for every woman's body type. This industry study will hopefully give her greater insights and help bring these ideas to reality.


We begin with the history of the swimsuit industry, followed by an extensive secondary data search. This section contains the bulk of the factual findings, such as sales, demand factors, and channel conditions. It includes a detailed analysis of the major competitors, how swimwear is branded, distribution channels, and promotional efforts. This section gives an overview of all the internal and external factors and how they translate to the industry's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

A strategic analysis examines the past and current trends in the swimsuit industry, while the Future section examines research and development, obesity and the potential harm of UV exposure.

We then include all primary research, such as interviews with Yves Lepine, and an independent local market study.

Finally, we conclude with recommendations and limitations of this study.

Historical Timeline of the Bathing Suit

* 300 B.C: First recorded use of bathing apparel was in Greece. Togas were worn when swimming and bathing reached the height of its popularity in the ancient world.

* During the 18th century men and women began to engage in public bathing in French and English spas, though a typical swim was very brief. Suits were cut to preserve modesty and resembled a "bathing gown." Theses first suits were far from practical or comfortable; ladies went as far as sewing lead weights into the hem of the "bathing gown" to prevent the dress from floating up and exposing her legs.

* The first swimsuits consisted of bloomers and black stockings. Around 1855, drawers were added to prevent the problem of exposure. Women still refrained from swimming too much, as it was not generally accepted until the end of the 19th century, when swimming had become an intercollegiate and Olympic sport.

* The beginning of the twentieth century marked a new daring era in swimwear for women. In 1907, Australian Annette Kellerman caused quite a stir, when she was arrested in the United States for wearing a loose, one piece suit that became the generally accepted swimsuit for women by 1910. After that swimsuits began the trend of becoming lighter, briefer and more stylish. During the "Roaring 20's" an appreciation for recreation and leisure time was increasing dramatically. In May of 1916, the first annual "Bathing Suit Day" was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Swimwear was now becoming skimpier, slimmer, sexier, and very athletic.

* The 20th Century began the swimwear revolution, brought about by the major increase in recreational sports oriented activities and the influence of the exotic cuts of French swimwear.

* The 1930's lead to swimwear garments that were functional, sleek, and streamlined. The 1934 swimsuit hugged the body and was constructed to allow shoulder straps to be lowered for tanning. By the end of the decade, molded-fit suits were introduced, featuring the "nude look." The "panel suit" was also popular, retaining a small skirt.

* The 1940's had bathing beauties, pin-up girls, glamour girls wearing high heels, and jewelry to accessorize their bathing attire. The most exciting was on July 5, 1946, designer Louis Reard introduced a 2-piece creation called the "bikini" at a fashion show in Paris. The suit was named after a few small South Pacific islands called Bikini Atoll. It was proclaimed to be the smallest suit ever and helped comply with the war fabric rations.

* In



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