A Pool of Op­por­tu­ni­ties

Bindu Gopal Rao pro­files the slow but steady rise in the pop­u­lar­ity of swimwear in In­dia, and of­fers tips for a stylish beach or pool­side get­away.

Apparel - - Contents -

Pro­fil­ing the rise in the pop­u­lar­ity of stylish swimwear in In­dia

In­dian beaches, while loved by pic­nick­ers, sel­dom con­tain swim­mers with ap­pro­pri­ate aquatic cloth­ing. Cul­tural prej­u­dices re­gard­ing mod­esty, lack of fash­ion­able choices and low aware­ness have all worked to en­sure that the swimwear mar­ket in In­dia re­mained a niche seg­ment. How­ever, the past few years have wit­nessed a lit­eral sea change. More and more peo­ple are de­vel­op­ing a fond­ness for swim­ming and aware­ness about the need for proper swimwear is on the rise. Health con­scious con­sumers are also tak­ing up swim­ming as a wor­thy work­out, and swim­ming as a sport is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity. There has also been a sharp uptick in the num­ber of re­sort wear fash­ion shows in the last few years.

Swimwear to­day is not only a pre­req­ui­site to get into a pool but is also be­com­ing a fash­ion state­ment. Nat­u­rally, the mar­ket has re­sponded by of­fer­ing a myr­iad choice of swimwear and beach­wear, with the de­mand for the same slowly ris­ing.

RID­ING THE WAVE

With an in­crease in ac­ces­si­bil­ity to week­end get­aways, beaches, and in­ter­na­tional travel, com­bined with an ac­cep­tance of fash­ion­able beach­wear, swimwear has be­come an im­por­tant cat­e­gory in the in­ti­mate wear space. The Spring/ Sum­mer 2018 swim col­lec­tion by var­i­ous de­sign­ers of­fer a good mix of sil­hou­ettes rang­ing from two-piece biki­nis to swim dresses. “The colour pal­ette has fresh blue, mint frosts and yel­low, per­fect for a trendy fash­ion state­ment on the next va­ca­tion. Bright coloured tribal and geo­met­ric prints are the dom­i­nant prints in the col­lec­tion. Keep­ing in line with brand’s tra­di­tion to in­no­vate with each new col­lec­tion, and be­ing in sync with lat­est global trend of new ex­po­sure – in­ner­wear as out­er­wear, Amanté’s Swimwear ’18 col­lec­tion fea­tures a fun crop top, with a hal­ter tie-up, and match­ing shorts,” says Smita Mu­rarka – Head of Mar­ket­ing & E-com­merce, MAS Hold­ings. Pretty Se­crets has launched its new SS’18 swimwear col­lec­tion and beach­wear styles which in­clude biki­nis, tank­i­nis, two piece swim suits, monoki­nis, sarongs and cover ups in a va­ri­ety of prints and colours. In­ci­den­tally, swim­ming is slowly be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar and is driv­ing de­mand not just from chil­dren but adults, too.

CUL­TURE CON­NECT

Chang­ing per­cep­tions to­wards swimwear in In­dia rep­re­sent the con­fi­dence of new In­dian woman who is bold and dar­ing, and is an ex­pres­sion of their free­dom and self im­age. “The big­gest road­block in swimwear adop­tion has been the age old con­cept of the ‘Beach Body’ which has taken a strong beat­ing, with women and men be­com­ing con­fi­dent in their own bod­ies. Re­tail­ers and brands are fo­cus­ing more on cel­e­brat­ing all the body types and cre­at­ing prod­ucts to ad­dress var­i­ous re­quire­ments,” says Ut­saha Khara, Founder, Si­tar­rey. There has been a sig­nif­i­cant shift in the mind­set of the ur­ban In­dian con­sumers, who are read­ily em­brac­ing swimwear of all styles and sil­hou­ettes. “How­ever, con­ser­va­tive per­cep­tion is still preva­lent to some ex­tent in the coun­try. To tackle this is­sue and to em­power women to feel con­fi­dent in their own skin, we have de­signed swimwear suit­ing the In­dian body type, and with styles that of­fer a flat­ter­ing look,” says Mu­raka. Karan Be­hal, Founder & CEO, Pretty Se­crets ex­plains, “The per­cep­tion has def­i­nitely shifted from con­ser­va­tive styles to glam­orous cuts and new swimwear styles. The mar­ket is thus in a unique predica­ment, where de­sign­ers are now ex­plor­ing mod­est styles in smart

IN­STEAD OF HAV­ING A BIG­GER PER­CENT­AGE OF ONE PIECES, BRANDS AND DE­SIGN­ERS ARE FO­CUS­ING A LOT ON BIKI­NIS, TANK­I­NIS AND TWO PIECE SWIM SUITS.

cuts and stylish sil­hou­ettes. In­stead of hav­ing a big­ger per­cent­age of one pieces, brands and de­sign­ers are fo­cus­ing on a lot of biki­nis, tank­i­nis and two piece swim suits to add to their col­lec­tions.”

NO CHILD’S PLAY

Swim­ming has gained tremen­dous pop­u­lar­ity over the last decade among the ur­ban and semi­ur­ban mar­kets. The per­cep­tion of swimwear has changed; from be­ing as­so­ci­ated with only glam­our and west­ern, up­per class life­styles, to a form of cloth­ing nec­es­sary to more ac­tive and healthy life­styles. “Kids are the most pop­u­lar age seg­ment that is tak­ing on swim­ming. In­creas­ing ac­cess to in­fra­struc­ture like pools, via clubs and hous­ing so­ci­eties, has led to greater adop­tion of swim­ming among all in­come groups. The idea of swim­ming as fun and sporty, along with its use­ful­ness to fit­ness and as a use­ful life skill, have led to more and more kids tak­ing up swim­ming. Be­sides, in­creased house­hold in­comes lev­els and bi-an­nual travel rit­u­als have driven the spend­ing in this cat­e­gory. The up­wardly mo­bile con­sumer group that fre­quent beaches and spas have forced re­tail­ers to fo­cus on this cat­e­gory with the in­tent of cre­at­ing a niche for their cus­tomers,” says Khara.

MOD­ESTY MAT­TERS

The trend of burkini that started in Aus­tralia way back in 2004 by Aheda Zanetti has been a con­stant topic of de­bate, es­pe­cially in France where it was as­so­ci­ated with a cer­tain re­li­gious group. “How­ever, I do not think that burkini has any­thing to do with religion but it is about com­fort and choice. It’s a fu­sion wear that mixes the com­fort of be­ing cov­ered and yet be­ing fash­ion­able. Be­ing in the wa­ter is one of the

best feel­ings in the world and no one should be de­void of that fun be­cause of their body type or the choice of their clothes. On sim­i­lar lines de­sign­ers are work­ing on sari in­spired biki­nis for In­dian au­di­ences,” says Khara. “With the rise of em­pow­er­ment among con­ser­va­tive women, burkini is a new con­cept of swimwear which fol­lows a mod­est cover to en­sure there is not as much skin show and gives them an op­tion in the swimwear cat­e­gory. This is a niche seg­ment and is trend­ing mostly among Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries,” says Be­hal.

SPLASHY TRENDS

The one trend that’s un­de­ni­ably dom­i­nat­ing the global trends in swimwear right now is the 80's style high cut biki­nis and monoki­nis. This style is fa­mously called the Brazil­ian cut. The In­dian swimwear mar­ket is strongly in­flu­enced by cinema and the trends that celebri­ties en­dorse. Whether it is the sun­rise monokini and blue Hawai­ian bikini that Jac­que­line Fer­nan­des and Tapsee Pannu sported in the Judwa fran­chise or the clas­sic black monokini of Deepika Padukone in the Fast & Fu­ri­ous se­quel, Bol­ly­wood will al­ways in­flu­ence the con­sump­tion pat­tern. From a cat­e­gory per­spec­tive, while bikini still re­mains the big­gest seg­ment, it’s the one piece (monoki­nis) that has wit­nessed the fastest growth. High-wais­ters have made a come­back with strong adop­tion by plus size con­sumers. Scoop Backs are back on the shelves and retro lovers would surely not miss these prod­ucts. Avneet Chadha, Style Ex­pert, says, “The off-shoul­der swim­suit is a fresh new take and emerges as one of the dif­fer­ent kinds of swimwear, where one can wear a body-con one set swim­suit or even a two piece bikini set. Ei­ther op­tion will make your beach style more fun and cute. The belted swimwear is quite a catch when it comes to style and ad­ven­ture. Whether you go with a plain swim­suit or a sporty style, you can belt it up with a leather belt to make your swim wear look classy and dif­fer­ent. Graphic neon or colour-block pat­terns or a bold colour would look great in neon for your beach out­ings. Make a state­ment at the beach, stand out among the more com­mon looks and give your beach­wear a new look and feel this sum­mer. If you like it sim­ple, go min­i­mal­ist.”

COLOUR CODED

The new nude shades for swimwear are quite a catch among the mil­len­ni­als. “We are also see­ing the love for high waist trend and ruf­fles shift to the swimwear mar­ket as well. Flirty ruf­fled de­tails are cute and add vol­ume at the bust which works great for women with pe­tite body types. We have in­cor­po­rated such styles in our swimwear col­lec­tion as well. We have seen global suc­cess with swimwear and ath­letic fab­rics which are UV pro­tected, re­sis­tant to sand, chlo­rine and sun bleach­ing,” adds Be­hal. Some of the lat­est in­no­va­tions in­clude ad­vance­ment in the way the fab­ric is cre­ated.

With so many op­tions and so much change in fash­ion, swim­mers can get set to make a splash with trendy swim­suits. Af­ter all, a cool dip in the pool is still the best antidote to the hot sum­mers.

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