Since the woolen and jersey bathers of the early days, swimwear fabrics have become uber lightweight, durable and attractive due to the continuous development of thinner microfiber swimwear fabrics. Among fabric options for swimwear, today’s designers have numerous choices and possibilities to create the ideal fabric that will enhance swimsuits and their capabilities.
Considerations For Swimwear Fabrics
When shopping for the best, most reasonable material for your brand of bathing suits, choose a swimwear fabric that best suits your brand’s purposes. Review these practical and aesthetic considerations that are common in swimwear:
• Lightweight (reducing drag)
• Non-absorbent (quick drying)
• Stretchy (allowing for movement)
• UV blocking (preventing sunburn)
• Breathable (allowing for perspiration)
• Insulation (preventing body heat loss)
• Color-proof (non-fading)
• Durable (resistant to the elements and able to retain its shape)
• Supporting (mainly when being active in the water)
• Stylish and form-fitting (creating a slimmer appearance)
• Attractive patterns and colors (trendy and fashionable)
Typical Swimwear Fabrics
• Nylon: Because of its strength, nylon is by far the most popular swimwear fabric. Swimwear made out of nylon is lightweight and dries quickly, which makes it ideal for aquatic use. The disadvantage is that nylon isn’t a very durable fabric when exposed to chemicals and the sun for a long period of time, so your swimwear fabric deteriorates over time.
• Spandex/Lycra: Nearly all swimwear fabric has a percentage of spandex (tradename Lycra) in the fabric because of its elasticity. The synthetic fabric spandex adapts your swimwear to your body shape and can make you look slimmer. However, the fabric isn’t very comfortable and breaks down in chlorine over time, so it is most commonly blended with nylon fabric when used for swimwear.
• Polyester: Although polyester is not as strong or light as nylon fabric, polyester fabric is the only material that will hold a color fast digital transfer print. Digital transfer is very popular among fashion designers who want to create a trendy, unique swimsuit look. Polyester is also more chlorine-proof than most fabrics and doesn't fade as fast, maintaining a swimsuit’s color and design longer.
• Cotton: You rarely come across 100% cotton swimwear anymore because the fabric is too absorbent and gets damaged by chlorine. However, some swimwear fabric is made out of a mix of polyester or spandex fabrics added to a cotton blend.
• Inner mesh: Instead of swimwear with a spandex or other synthetic lining, a mesh lining is often used in swimwear fabrics because it is less bulky while still keeping its insulation.
Additional Suggestions For Consideration
For swimwear fabric that doesn't deteriorate after use in swimming pools, choose a chlorine-proof or chlorine-resistant fabric (close to 100% polyester), with a small percentage of elastane. Swimwear made out of polyester fabric is more color-proof and fade-resistant. The drawback is that chlorine-proof swimwear fabrics can feel tight, as they are less flexible. If you want to create more stretchy swimwear, you should choose a fabric with a higher spandex content (like Lycra), which has more elastane fiber in it, and is an excellent fabric for use in both fresh and salt water.
If you’re looking to start your own swimwear line, QUANTUMFACTORY has a fantastic selection of swimwear fabric, and offers digital transfer print services as well as manufacturing services. You come up with the designs and we’ll make it happen!
We’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to ask us questions about launching your own brand.