MILAN — Amid a extremely polarized market dominated by established names, Italian up-and-coming beachwear manufacturers are leveraging a start-up mind-set and catching the enterprise alternatives supplied by the direct-to-consumer enterprise mannequin.
They are quickly redefining the section’s panorama, banking on eco-friendly manufacturing, reasonably priced value ranges and a price of inclusivity and physique positivity that’s key for at present’s prospects.
Here WWD sat down with the entrepreneurs behind three sizzling swimwear manufacturers.
At the Forefront of Sustainability: Seay
For manufacturers that construct their success providing beach-ready gear, it needs to be a provided that additionally they take care of the oceans and the ocean — however that’s not all the time the case.
Alberto Bressan, a former Guess director for the underwear enterprise, throughout his journeys between Europe and Los Angeles and after his former employer laid him off in 2019, gathered a number of testimonies from water sports activities athletes complaining about ocean air pollution. He sensed the time was ripe for an impartial undertaking and shortly referred to as on board Simone Scodellaro, additionally previously at Guess, as cofounder and chief industrial officer.
“There was a lack of sustainable brands in the beachwear arena and people that spend a lot of time navigating the sea do know what’s going on there,” mentioned Bressan. The firm has tapped wakeboard champions and twins Alice and Chiara Virag as its ambassadors.
“Our goal was to upturn the consolidated manufacturing process, with beachwear being shipped back and forth over 10,000 kilometers and thus producing at least 87 tons of carbon dioxide,” he defined.
To this finish, the model put in 95 p.c of its manufacturing processes within the Veneto area and inside 100 kilometers from the headquarters. They make use of Oeko-Tex Standard 100 materials, together with GRS-approved polyester and polyamide, the previous coming from upcycled PET bottles, and GOTS natural cotton. They have additionally transitioned its packaging to compostable and biodegradable options and utilized to transport service DHL’s Go Green program guaranteeing that launched CO2 is offset by the planting of latest timber.
“This was not enough,” mentioned Bressan, “the real burden is the products’ lifecycle, and the amount of clothing destined each year to the landfills.” Thus, Seay got here up with a devoted traceable program to assist clear up this difficulty.
Called Re3 which stands for reuse, resell and regenerate, the send-back initiative affords an incentive to Seay prospects to proceed purchasing with the model whereas additionally doing good for the planet. After every buy buyers are inspired to ship again to the corporate a number of of their used and broken clothes gadgets — from any model and in all situations — in trade for a 20 p.c low cost.
When the corporate receives the used clothes a group of consultants based mostly in Vicenza, Italy, kinds them and sends them both to thrift shops for resale, donates them to underprivileged folks, or ships them to a Trento-based producer which converts them into upcycled textiles. As of mid-2021, 80 p.c of Seay’s prospects had embraced the Re3 program versus 52 p.c in 2020, triggered by the potential for following the journey of the discarded clothes through a blockchain-based QR-code.
“There are many customers who don’t even want the 20 percent discount, they are just participating for the sake of it, understanding the importance of this initiative,” Bressan defined.
Seay was acknowledged as a Benefit Company in 2020, which by Italian legislation is bestowed on companies that purpose to generate a constructive influence on society, staff, the group and the atmosphere and has utilized for the B Corp certification. “Although our business model as it is has a strong impact on profitability, if you launch a brand today there’s no other way to do it,” Bressan mentioned.
The firm, which in 2020 had gross sales of 100,000 euros and is aiming to triple its revenues this yr, has already attracted the curiosity of worldwide buyers together with Singapore-based enterprise capital agency Hatcher+, which secured a 165,000 euros funding together with different buyers; Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, an organization managed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which injected 200,000 euros by a convertible bond; and Fashion Technology Acceleration which owns 5 p.c of the enterprise.
Seay is now searching for contemporary cash to assist progress and goals to shut a brand new spherical of investments within the fourth quarter of the yr to gather 500,000 euros.
High-Tech Innovation with a Sustainable Bent: Safe
Sometimes instinct is the best enterprise asset. That was true for Stefano Sacchi who, throughout a visit to Indonesia in 2014, realized how he and his circle of mates had been dropping issues that dropped out of the pockets of their swimming trunks.
He got here to the rescue, pivoting his profession in actual property to launch Safe, a males’s swimwear model that has patented the zippered pockets, a primary for the sector. “I never thought about fashion as a real business opportunity,” Sacchi mentioned. “I did my research and noticed that nobody had ever thought about such a simple yet useful innovation,” he added.
The first collections featured YKK water repellent zippers, that are nonetheless used. However, because the model’s title suggests, the first purpose was to supply a totally waterproof pocket, which got here to fruition in 2021 and was patented by the European Patent Office.
For this new iteration, along with the waterproof zippers, Safe’s swimming trunks — crafted from eco-friendly supplies together with upcycled polyester and spandex — function an inside pocket manufactured from TPU, a totally biodegradable materials, with a magnetic closure that ensures impermeability as much as 90 ft.
“At the very beginning the market didn’t seem to consider this innovation as a key element, probably because the brand was not as recognized as it is today. We had to invest in marketing to build brand awareness and then customers kept returning,” Sacchi defined.
Although the model was launched with a extra conventional enterprise mannequin in thoughts, leveraging a large community of distributors, it made a robust pivot to direct-to-consumer in 2019 to dodge the complexity of the wholesale enterprise — particularly in Italy — regardless of a sell-out charge near 72 p.c within the first seasons.
It at present generates 90 p.c of its turnover, which in 2020 was north of 150,000 euros, on-line whereas the remaining 10 p.c is predicated on wholesale and concessions in key resort locations. The model operates corners on the Twiga Beach Club in Forte dei Marmi, Italy, and on the lodge Le Mandala in Saint Tropez, France, and it’s offered at Wonderland in Capri, in addition to Nikki Beach in Dubai.
Aiming to capitalize on publicity within the Americas and the Middle East, Safe has solid ties with a global distributor which boasts showrooms in New York and Dubai and three,000 factors of sale. This would mark the primary huge enlargement outdoors Europe, apart from Japan the place the model had already constructed a status within the 2017-to-2019 interval due to a neighborhood distributor.
Up subsequent is the launch of a ladies’s vary and the enlargement of the life-style providing of shirts, polos and T-shirts to enrich its core class with clothes for “wild travelers.”
Body Positivity Shines Bright: After Glow
Women’s beachwear model After Glow appears to have born for social media with its Instagram-friendly saturated photos and nods to influencers’ life-style.
However, there’s extra to the model established earlier this yr by mates Bianca Bettazzi and Jessica Bocchicchio, each with backgrounds in vogue, in manufacturing and retail, respectively. A fast scroll by the model’s Instagram feed reveals a penchant for physique positivity and self-love that’s in sync with the values of the Gen Z prospects that the model goals to focus on.
“Diversity is at the core of the brand. It aims to telegraph a positive way of living and perceiving our bodies, appreciating our flaws,” mentioned Bettazzi.
The model is totally made in Italy — a trait that the duo is especially pleased with and desires to have a good time and protect. “We decided to offer a product that is slightly more expensive, but which can guarantee high quality and more satisfaction,” mentioned Bocchicchio.
Not solely is the model’s title impressed by the relaxed ambiance one enjoys on the seashore at sundown, After Glow’s swimwear additionally nods to the saturated colours at nightfall and serves as a temper booster. “They are the expression of joy after confinement,” defined Bettazzi. Cue halter neck bikinis in lime inexperienced and fuchsia or swimsuits in tangerine orange.
While acknowledging that the launch of the model throughout the pandemic may sound counterintuitive, the duo mentioned it felt the precise time and injected a way of hope, which they count on to switch to their prospects.
The model began out leveraging Instagram through an influencer advertising marketing campaign, which paid again. “We experienced a surge in web traffic whenever an Influencer would post our swimsuits,” mentioned Bettazzi.
Born as a direct-to-consumer model, it has already gained the curiosity of some native retailers from Tuscany.
Scaled-back SwimShow, Cabana Exhibitions See Strong Demand
Kate Moss Wears Kim Kardashian West’s Underwear
Sustainable Performance Fiber Solution Attracts Swimwear Brands