The best way to learn how to start a swimwear line online is by actually doing it.
The second best way is to read this article because unlike most “how to start a swimwear line” articles, this one isn’t written by some freelancer who’s never started an apparel brand before. So if you want a guide that contains advice molded by real world experience, you’re in the right place.
We’re going to talk about everything from costs to finding manufacturers to marketing.
Let’s get started…
Is Swimwear A Good Business?
The great part of the swimwear business is that it’s a very popular category in apparel. It’s also generally more economically viable than other apparel categories. For example, there are some swimwear brands that specialize in just 1 type of swimwear.
The bad part about swimwear is that it can be a seasonal business. For obvious reasons, you’re going to see more sales during the summer and less sales during the winter. This can make it a more difficult business to run, especially when it comes to cash flow.
Now, you may still be asking if swimwear is a good business or not.
My final verdict is that it is if you make it a good business.
Through smart product selection and smart marketing, it’s possible to build a successful swimwear business that is efficient enough to deliver a good profit margin.
How Long Does It Take To Start A Swimwear Line?
One critical aspect of inventory that most ecommerce business owners do not ask about often enough is the time it takes to start a swimwear line. In other words, the lead times.
The longer the lead time, the more money you’ll have caught up in inventory at any one time.
The faster the lead time, the more money you’ll have left over for actually growing the business.
Considering swimwear is a subcategory of apparel, it’s safe to say it’s on the slower end of things. You can expect it to take 4-6 months to produce a product, regardless of category. This is because you have to deal with things like fabric sourcing, color approvals, and cut & sew.
If you have to do multiple rounds of fabric and color approvals it can take even longer.
The good news is that re-ordering will take less time since you’ve already done most of the work during the first iteration of your product. So expect re-orders to take 3-4 months, depending on the category and manufacturer you work with,
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Swimwear Line?
Cost is the biggest barrier to starting any ecommerce brand.
It also can vary wildly because there are so many factors that can decide the ultimate cost to start a swimwear line. For example, fabric quality is a huge deciding factor at your ultimate cost. So are your manufacturer’s minimums. The same goes for custom designs over private label. And if you want to make multiple SKUs, then you’re in for a big surprise.
But for now, let’s assume you want to make 1 product with above average quality in 1 color.
You can expect it to cost anywhere between $2,000 – $25,000.
Yes, this is a huge range. That is going to come down to your manufacturer’s minimums. So if you’re on a budget, you’ll need to hustle to find someone with low minimums. Just keep in mind that your profit margins will shrink the lower you go.
How To Find A Swimwear Manufacturer
The great thing about swimwear and any other apparel category is that manufacturers are easy to find. There are just so many of them since apparel is one of the biggest categories in all of commerce, let alone retail.
There are 2 ways to look for a swimwear manufacturer.
The easy way is to find one through a directory of manufacturers. Typically, these are paid and will have a roundup of vetted manufacturers you can work with. Some may even include reviews. Some of them for apparel include…
If you prefer to go the free route or just can’t find enough manufacturers through the directories above, your next option is to Google them. For example, you can type in phrases like “swimwear manufacturer” or “swimwear private label”.
You’ll end up with a TON of potential partners.
Your job from there is to go through each one and call them so you can ask what their costs, minimums, and lead times are. For best results, ask them a lot of questions in multiple ways as most manufacturers will tell you “it depends”, but will eventually budge if you keep asking.
How To Market A Swimwear Line Online
In the past, you would have had to slog your way through so many in-person promotional events just to get a chance at selling your swimwear. Today, it’s possible to learn how to start a swimwear line online. All you have to do is follow the fundamentals.
The first way to market a swimwear line online is through owned media.
Owned media is any type of media where you are the sole owner. This primarily means growing your website through SEO and building your email list. Unlike social media platforms like Youtube, no one can take away your website and newsletter. This is typically the most ideal way to grow any business, but it’s also one of the more difficult and slowest.
The second way to market a swimwear line online is through earned media.
Earned media is any type of media where you earn people’s attention. This primarily means being featured in the press such as being seen on Forbes. It also counts any sort of social media shares you may get, whether viral or not. This is an amazing way to grow a swimwear brand, but it’s also the most fleeting.
The third way to market a swimwear line online is through paid media.
Paid media is any type of advertising. This includes everything from Facebook ads to buying newsletter sponsorships. It’s by far the fastest way to make sales, but it’s also the most expensive as it only grows the more you spend.
The secret to marketing a swimwear line online is by combining all three. In a perfect world, you would start by building an audience either through your blog/newsletter or through a social channel that leads to your newsletter. You would launch your swimwear line to that audience. Then you would leverage earned media to keep making more sales without spending money on ads. And then finally, you would start running ads to scale your brand.
Marketing your brand this way maximizes your chance for success.