With the summer sadly coming to an end, I see more and more "buy one, get one free" sales signs for summer apparel, mainly swim suits. Where were these signs at the beginning of the summer when swimsuits were priced between $60 and $100 a piece?! According to Slate, swimsuits are a $3.5 BILLION industry and the industry is growing rapidly. I never understood how pieces of cloth could cost so much until I considered the complexities that are tied into the costs of these garments.

1. Cost to create the structure of the suit. It’s no secret that everyone’s body shape is different. In order to stay ahead of competitors, fashion designers must push the newest treads, but not compromise the fit of the suit. Designers spend hours and hours creating swimsuits that ensure everything stays intact when enjoying their time in the water while also making the customer feel comfortable and confident in it. The time invested to create these designs must be tied into the overall costs of the suits.

2. Cost of stretchy fabric and other materials. Believe it or not, the stretchable fabric used in swimsuits, specifically women’s, are more expensive compared to other fabrics and materials used to make clothing such as sturdy nylon and cotton. Swimsuits also require additional elements such as under wires and padding. After receiving the designs, companies must source these materials, and during the qualification process, they must make certain that the materials being purchase can withstand summer activities that usually include chlorine, sand, sun, and salt. Fabrics that can come into contact with these elements and not fade or deteriorate come at a higher cost to manufacturer, which is reflected in the price charged to the consumer.

3. Seasonality. Although online shopping allows for finding swimsuits year round, the cost of having swim suits in stores for only about four months out of the year also adds to the cost of the suit. If stores purchase large amounts of swimsuits and they don’t sell many by the beginning of August, the chances of them ever selling the suits drops substantially, forcing them to sell the swimsuits at a discount with hopes of recovering as much of their initial investment as possible.

Taking the above points into consideration, some stores like Target and H&M have managed to offer bathing suits at a lower price compared to other stores. Although the fabric and materials used to make the suit may not be of the same quality of the ones at Victoria’s Secret or high end department stores, they are still able to get the job done and provide a low-cost alternative to the more expensive suits. Since swimsuits are not a necessity and do not have to adhere to specific material requirements in terms of quality, it gives consumers the freedom to choose between swimsuits made by different designers, using different fabrics. As more and more stores offer suits at a lower cost, this will hopefully decrease the cost of swim suits over time, allowing consumers to spend more time and money on summer vacations as opposed to shopping around for cheaper bathing suits.

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Victoria Baston

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