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Why is a Swimsuit so Expensive?

Here are 5 reasons your swimsuit is so expensive.

Ever wonder why some swimsuits seem to be so expensive compared to others? You can find some bathing suits on Amazon for $5 and the other extreme is $350 for one swimsuit. How different can they be?

The answer is this: they are a lot different. Like most products, you can buy swimwear on the low-end or high-end. So, what's the difference then?

Here are 5 ways low-end swimsuits differ from high-end ones. You may want to reconsider buying cheap.

1. Fair wage and working conditions

Like the clothing industry, the swimwear industry has factories. Workers make swimsuits on assembly lines where they cut, sew and finish each one to the design specs. In order for companies to sell swimwear cheap, the wages they pay to the workers who make them must be low. Often times when the wages are low, it means that the workers don't receive other benefits - like health care. Working conditions in some of these factories tend to be less than ideal. Cheap supply chain makes for a less expensive end product. Remember this anytime you buy something such as clothing or swimwear at a bargain price.

2. Country of origin

The country where the swimwear is sown and shipped from has an effect on the price. The same is true for the county where the fabric is from. These 3 reasons affect the price of a swimsuit from another country:

photo credit: Hermes Rivera

i. Higher labour costs. Some countries pay their workers higher wages. This increases the cost of the product. A swimsuit made in China for example, is usually less expensive than one made in the US.

ii. Trade agreements. Signed trade agreement between countries helps keep costs in check. Import duties and fees are much higher from countries without trade agreements. This can add dollars to the cost of your bathing suit.

iii. Currency exchange rate. There is a cost to exchanging currencies when buying foreign products. Sometimes this exchange can be significant. For example the cost of one US dollar at the time this post is being written is 1.34 CAD. This exchange cost adds to the price of the swimwear.

3. Fabric

Swimwear fabric has stretch. This quality alone makes the fabric more expensive than non-stretch materials. This is why it can be costly to buy a small amount of swimwear fabric. But both cheap and expensive swimsuits have stretchy fabric, so what gives?

Stretch fabric on the lower end of the scale is often less dense with a looser weave. This means that it will break down and wear out faster. It also tends to pill after a couple of wears and catch on clothing and other surfaces causing damage to the suit.

Not only is the fabric better constructed in an expensive swimsuit, but there tends to be more of it. High-end designer swimwear looks sturdy and holds its shape no matter how many times you wear it. This is because it is always lined so it gives you more support and won't wear down and become see-through.

You can actually feel the difference in the fabric of a lower priced swimsuit versus a higher priced one. The texture is much softer and luxurious in a designer made bathing suit.

But don't take my word for it!

Test: Try on a $5 - $20 swimsuit next to a designer swimsuit worth $150 - $300 to see and feel the difference for yourself.

4. Design Process

Have you ever compared the top you bought at Walmart to the one you bought at Aritzia? What was the difference? The difference isn't always obvious right away. When the top is brand new, it looks pretty good. Then you wash it once and it looks a little less fabulous. Wash it a few times and you almost watch your new top disintegrating before your eyes.

Why doesn't the one you bought at Aritzia do that? It's because the fabric used in the Aritzia top is much higher quality. Aritzia also puts each of their clothing items through rigorous testing beforehand. They want to make sure what you are buying will stand the test of time. This is why you pay more for their stuff. They want you to be able to have it and use it for a very long time.

retail clothing store
photo credit: Ashim D'Silva

Testing and standards add costs to the end product. A more onerous and thorough supply chain and process makes for a more expensive product. The same is true with swimwear. The fabrics used in high-end, high-quality swimsuits have staying power. You will be able to wear your designer bathing suit for many years provided you take proper care of it. Don't wash it in the washing machine and make sure you use a detergent that's designed for swimwear. Read more about swimsuit care here.

5. Craftsmanship

Have you ever noticed that a great swimsuit tends to have some super beautiful details? Beading, macramé, crochet, hand stitching and other fine elements add to the allure of a great suit. They also add to the cost. If you are paying more for a swimsuit, it will be obvious in a lot of subtle ways that all add up to the total aesthetic.

Here are 3 things to look for to determine if a swimsuit is designer made or not:

i. Hidden seams - designer made swimsuits tend to have hidden seams so the fabric lays flat against the body. This gives the bathing suit a more polished look when worn.

ii. Details - top designers will not miss an opportunity to make a statement on any part of the swimsuit. Beading, stitching, sequins, gold and silver accents are things you can expect to find. And they are well secured, unlikely to come off and will not tarnish or rust after swimming.

iii. Fabric lays flat and doesn't pull, pinch or bunch. A designer made swimsuit will not look awkward on the body. Let's face it, wearing a swimsuit is sometimes mentally hard enough. Why feel more exposed and uncomfortable by putting on an ill-fitting, cheap swimsuit?

If you are shopping for quality designed and crafted swimwear check out We’ve recently improved our website navigation to include the high/low price filters. This allows you to look at items of varying prices to fit your budget.

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