In these times of uncertainty and new challenges, it is imperative to take initiatives that will help the business to survive and allow for growth. It is a good idea to add new products into product baskets, particularly if they are not too focused on Indian companies but still have a high global demand and potential for long-term growth. These products include swimwear and beachwear. This is supported by data, as the US market for each segment is approximately US$ 5.50 billion. Globally this market was valued at US $ 19.80 billion in 2021 and it’s projected to grow to US $ 27.60 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.10 per cent. This is an indication of how many opportunities there are in this product sector. This growth can be attributed to the growing focus on travel and holidays, as well as airlines almost returning to pre-Covid capacities.
Although it is true that there are uncertainties at the global level as well as other factors such inflation, the industry believes this is not a phase that will have any lasting impact. Despite so much potential in market size, India’s export in beachwear and swimwear categories is negligible that is US $ 750 million. Compared with other product segments, India has fewer swimwear manufacturers. Although many SMEs are offering a range of products in different beachwear segments, swimwear is still a niche segment.
Many companies see beachwear as a lucrative product category that is relatively easy to manufacture and more fashion-oriented than others. As beachwear is becoming more important, few companies have reached the pre-Covid export level.
“Along with the cost of imported oil/fuel which is the basis of MMF production, there are environmental issues. Although companies like ours work closely with mills to analyse their water and effluent treatment, we are still far distant from optimal management of environmental discharges,” Harshad Daswani
The majority of exporters are catering to beachwear as a part of their product basket with the prime focus being on women’s dresses. This is why companies are experiencing growth in the segment by having a strong focus on it (not just one part of their product basket), and working with top brands. However, kaftans aren’t just for the beach; they can also be worn at home. This is an important factor in the rise of demand.
Companies like Quality Apparel (Studio 6G LLP), Noida. Beachwear is a growing market. “We have crossed the pre-Covid level and don’t see any further challenge in the demand. I feel our plenty of designs and working with buyers of coastal European countries are the main supporting factors for us,” says Onil Sadh, Director Company. He also stated that beachwear is in high demand and not just one product.
Shivalik Design enjoys working with top brands and retailers such as Next and Laura Ashley, to provide beachwear. Even though the UK is the main market, Shivalik Design has enjoyed this success. Avni Jindal Behl, CEO of the company says, “I see more demand for beachwear segment compared to partywear or blouses. Despite economic challenges, there is demand for beachwear as it is now a necessity, and looking at the overall scenario, the same is expected to continue for the long term.”
Jaipur, Pushkar and other clusters have many beachwear producers. They also agreed that there is an increase in demand for this segment because people are spending more time on vacations after Covid. They are now inclined towards this market for a change.
Companies also enjoy a reasonable order quantity at an affordable price. Noida-based Super House receives 500 pieces on average, and the price for digitally printed beachwear made of 100 percent polyester is US$ 7-12.
Polyester is very popular in beachwear. The majority of Indian companies also use 100 percent polyester. The high cost of cotton is one reason polyester is used in this product segment. Exporters face problems due to the high cost of imported oil/fuel, which is the base of MMF production. Manufacturers can manage their input prices by having stable oil imports. Better infrastructure will allow for faster time to market.
However, this is an exceptional case. There are customers who prefer sustainable cotton in this category. Shivalik Design uses 100% cotton (both organic and BCI) for its beachwear segment. The demand is also great.
You can find a wide range of beachwear products, including thongs and beach dresses, sarongs and kaftans, hipsters and so on. In the export space, it’s all evenly balanced as different cultures have different sensitivities to body exposure. India is seeing a higher demand for cover-ups. Sarongs are gaining ground.
The increasing demand for swimwear and beachwear is bringing benefits to footwear, especially flip-flops and slide thongs. The majority of flip-flops were used for surfing at beaches. Stratview Research According to another report, flip-flops have become a popular choice for women during the summer because of the changing fashion trends. This plays a large role in the rising demand for flip flops. Speedo, the global leader in swimwear and most of the leading footwear brands focus on this segment.
Value-driven beachwear is the key to success in both domestic and international markets. Multi-functional beachwear is the key (wear on holiday and also for lunch) and in case of swimwear, the trend is towards more solid colours which can be matched with any clothing. People are willing to pay more for well-designed prints than they do for wavy prints like marble effect prints and tye dye prints. Solid colours are popular, especially with a lot more khaki and bright blue tones. Classic shapes are very popular in swimwear and can be used over and over again.
Indians’ thrust on vacation to places like Goa is also supporting the demand for beachwear. There are recent reports that Goa braces for ‘unprecedented’ numbers in first tourism season after Covid. Before the pandemic, there were close to 90,000 tourists in the state, with 9 lakh foreigners. Yogesh Desai, Director, Pankaj Mercantile Company, MumbaiHe exports cover-ups, accessories, and supplies some beachwear products to the domestic market. He believes that Goa’s good tourist visits increase the demand for beachwear products in the country.
Swimwear: First, a strong fabric base is required
Global brands are very innovative when it comes to the use of fabric or raw materials. Nike HydraStrong styles, made from chlorine-proof polyester fabric and both heat-resistant and fade-resistant, are an example. Canada-based Hoaka Swimwear’s bikinis are made of high-quality neoprene. India has to produce quality, affordable, and varied fabrics of nylon and satin to be able to compete with brands that are known for their swimwear. India’s focus on MMF, PLI schemes and the thrust of companies to innovate, India should have the necessary fabric to manufacture swimwear.
Fountainhead Exports is one exporter that caters to this niche, but only for departmental stores and non-high-end brands. Fountainhead Exports from Mumbai, which exports 30% of swimwear, is primarily a supplier to supermarkets in Europe and Latin America. Polyester fabric, which is sourced in Surat, is used by the company.
Swimwear is a global business
- Speedo, UK
- Yingfa, USA
- Dolfin Swimwear & Beachwear, USA
- Triumph, UK
- Arena, Italy
Harshad Daswani, Director of the company says, “Yes, there is no new major player which has entered in swimwear in recent times for export but if we easily get the required fabric at the same costing as overseas companies have, I am 100 per cent sure that India can grow very well in swimwear export.”
Harshad projects a Yo-Y growth rate in excess of 40 percent over the next two year. According to Harshad, the looming recession and current oil-price-driven inflation issues in Europe will impact exports a bit. India continues to be a major driver of value travel, and there is a lot of growth. He also stated that India’s growth will be visible in the coming fiscals. Harshad said that they will increase production capacity at existing units in order to meet this demand. The company sells a variety of swimwear, beachwear, and equipment.
Many buyers asked for swimwear from Indian suppliers who make beachwear. However, the exporters are comfortable with standardised products and the challenges of swimwear manufacturing means that Indian suppliers do not have the necessary strength to produce swimwear.
Shivalik Design has seen good growth in beachwear. However, it is not interested in products made from polyester. It does have some business in the existing product categories. The company does not plan to offer swimwear.
“The only challenge I saw is cost as people still prefer budget-friendly swimwear while being an environment-conscious label, our products are a little costly compared to normal swimwear. There is therefore a need to increase awareness on this front,” Esha Lal
Even though beachwear companies and other products made of polyester are unwilling to produce swimwear, Indian swimwear manufacturers have to overcome technical hurdles.
Swimwear is in high demand in India. Fashion-driven products for women, while men’s swimwear is more purpose-driven. Women will spend more on products than men, and vice versa. Indian swimwear is still in its early stages, but it has huge potential for growth. Page Industries commissioned AC Nielsen to study the Indian swimming market. It shows that there is a growing market for swimwear and equipment.
Swimwear is so much more
- Suit for the whole body
According to the study, 3 percent of urban residents are able to swim twice per week during summer season. This is based on their income levels. About 24 per cent of the non-swimmers surveyed, have demonstrated the ‘likelihood to swim in the future’ which shows that there is a large potential of non-swimmers who are willing to swim.
Swimming pools are becoming more common in high-rise apartments, making it easier to enjoy this sport in urban India. Indian schools recognize swimming as an essential life skill and include this sport as a mandatory co-curricular activity.
India is home to several swimwear-focused manufacturing companies at the mass level, such as Page Industries Speedo International Ltd. has exclusive licensing rights for India, but the company is heavily focused on India’s domestic market.
This segment is not being dominated by new players. Although they may have fewer operations or limited manufacturing capabilities, they are innovative in their product offerings. Sustainable as they use sustainable raw material, and they are enthusiastic about good growth. Labels like Papaaya Swimwear, Goya Swim Company, Esha Lal Swimwear A few others have also emerged and are aspiring to be successful.
Riya Majumdar’s Goya Swim Company is a luxury conscious brand. All its swimsuits are made with Repreve, fabric made by USA’s fabric manufacturer, UniFi. They take plastic bottles and other waste from fashion landfills, oceans, and make fibre.
Similarly, started almost three-and-a-half years ago, Esha Lal Swimwear’s primary fabric for swimsuits is made of fabric from Carvico Italy, that uses ethical production techniques. Its beachwear is 100% organic cotton.
“Post-Covid, there is good demand for swimwear and it is an expanding product category for us. I don’t see any challenge, be it in terms of imported fabric as it is easily available with the traders or even manufacturing also as our small set-up is working smoothly,” says Esha.
Although few Indian companies are known for their sportswear, it is not their main focus. Paragon ApparelsAfter working with well-respected global brands and running its own performance wear brand Alcis successfully, he also offers swimwear, but it is only a small portion of his overall offerings.
Fountainhead Exports is a leader in the swimwear sector. Its domestic focus is strong as well. Harshad’s initiative is The Beach Company (domestic company) and is poised for great growth. The Beach Company has a few top international brands and Indian labels to offer a complete experience for Indian customers looking for swimwear.
With the thrust of people on travel, more consciousness on health, keenness to explore new things, growing income, Indian middle class’s increasing aspiration for better lifestyle, India’s increasing thrust on MMF, there is no reason why the companies should not start thinking to explore their product portfolio by adding swimwear.
Technology that is behind swimwear
There are two types of swimwear that are made in the garment industry. One is performance-based swimwear, and one is leisure swimwear. Performance-based swimwear is for professionals who use swimming pools and beaches. Leisurewear is meant to be worn at work, while performance-based is for professional swimmers. Making swimwear requires two key skills: the ability to use speciality fabrics, and the ability to cut and sew fabric panels. Basic swimwear can be made with minimal upgradation. A typical swimwear production line may include 22 operations. This gives a total SAM time of 12 minutes. 80 pieces can usually be made in one hour with minimum 26 workers and 22 machines. There can be different kinds of production systems to be followed while manufacturing swimwear but it’s advisable to start with progressive bundling system in combination with hourly auditing and then move on to traffic light system followed by statistical process control.
Spreading and cutting
The spreading and cutting stage is crucial in any production of swimwear. Because the fabric has a lot stretch, it can cause high shrinkage or fabric slippage due high levels of polyamide. For spreading large volumes, Manual spreading table The fabric can be stretched to reduce its stretchability. However, it is possible to relax the fabric on the cutting board for a specific time. Spreading this fabric should not exceed 4 inches in height. The maximum number of plies allowed is 30-40. Otherwise, the bottom plies won’t be able shrink properly as the top part relaxes faster than the bottom.
For spreading smaller volumes, it’s better to lay not more than 20 panels at a time with a layer height of up to 2 inches, because beyond that the fabric below starts shrinking due to high elasticity and during cutting, the lower layers do not have enough pressure to lie in place. Pin tables are also used to cut smaller layers. You can use band knives to create precise shapes and curves.
You don’t need specialised equipment, all you need is tape feeding attachments or metering devices! A factory should invest primarily in tape feeding attachments, and other metering devices. These devices play a major role in the manufacture of swimwear. Other than those, the same machines, as in sewing a T-shirt, can be used for the manufacturing of leisure swimwear like overlock, flatlock and lockstitch machines.
- Slinky fabrics can be handled by using a top or bottom feed system as well gauge change.
While the sewing machines may look the same, the spare parts, such as the needle plates, needles, pressure feet and taping devices (like the puller for light fabric), can vary. The needle plate and all other parts of a sewing machine must be adjusted correctly and precisely to ensure there is no slippage in the garment. This will prevent puckering, de-shaping, or one side pull on highly elastic garments. For ladies with leg openings, there is an elastic attachment. To attach the elastic, pullers are used. The garment is then turned and placed in the machine to cover the elastic.
- Flatlock should replace overlock in the side seam
When machines are set for manufacturing a particular swimwear, it is necessary that right seam type is identified – whether to use lockstitch which has no stretchability or flatlock with higher stretchability in combination with threads having high stretchability to give durability and strength to the swimwear.
It takes just two days to train a skilled operator who is familiar with single jersey and pique. They are also skilled in flatlocking curves such as armhole. The learning curve for a shirt operator sewing swimwear would be steeper. Because fabric is stretchy, sewing operators need to take certain precautions like matching the points and not stretching too much.