What’s hot for Spring/Summer ’19 swimwear.
When it comes to swimwear, children’s designers are presented with the same challenge season after season—adapting the scanty silhouettes seen on adult runways into styles with kid-friendly charm. It’s a balance between sweet and chic.
“Children’s swimwear should be fun, but at the same time practical,” says Michelle Smith, creative director and co-founder of the women’s label Milly and its children’s takedown Milly Minis. “Kids are active and always on the move, so it’s important to keep the silhouettes simple and amp up style with the use of trendy details.” Working almost exclusively with fluorescent colors, conversational prints and hints of feminine embellishments like ruffles and eyelet lace, Smith strives for each collection to exude a bold, colorful and playful personality. “I bring the same energy that I design into my women’s cabana into my Minis collections,” she says, noting that this season her focus has shifted off of the two-piece silhouette with more emphasis on one-pieces in both women’s and children’s. “The one-piece used to be synonymous with sporty, but now we’ve designed it in different cuts, which makes it fun for every age and it aligns well the need for more conservative styles in children’s,” Smith says.
Karel Wheen, director of Platypus Australia, agrees, affirming fashion can never sacrifice function when it comes to children’s swimsuits. “Children’s collections are always a reflection of adult fashion but fine-tuned to make them age-appropriate,” she says. “Our challenge is to provide consumers with garments that combat sun-related issues by offering them appropriate amounts of protection.” The brand relies on sun-protective mix-and-match stories ensuring a protective sun shirt or sun jacket matches back to its fashionable swimwear. “It begs you to think outside the box and create something intriguing,” Wheen says, noting the explosion of one-pieces (especially long-sleeved) and styles using soft neoprene fabric. She adds that the Spring ’19 collection will include lots of feminine accents like tulle, ruffles and off-the-shoulder silhouettes, as well as high-neck and flounce bikinis and more conservative tankini styles with fashion-forward frills and fringing.
Liz Eglinton, founder of Snapper Rock, also looks toward the adult swim market for inspiration, noting that it’s been especially important as the “mini me” trend grows with parents and siblings. For next spring, Snapper Rock introduced new silhouettes for both girls and women, which include one-shoulder bikinis, flounce overlay tops and athleisure-inspired looks such as swim leggings and crop rashguard tops and surf shirts. “The collection offers a diverse mix of solid colors for a fashion-forward mix-and-match look,” she says. Think a bouquet of floral prints with pops of neon to add some “beachy fun.” The collection also showcases hints of gold and silver metallic in two new prints, Zebra Crossing and Ocean Star. For older girls, Boho vibes are a focus in addition to sportier styles. As for where the boys are, Eglinton says a collection is not complete without animals, rattling off sharks, crabs, crocodiles, zebras and tigers as must-have motifs in addition to popular colorways of mint, blue and neon coral. Snapper Rock offers dad-and-son matching board shorts, as well.
Also upping the ante on boys’ offerings is Amber Schaub, CEO of Ruffle Butts and Rugged Butts. After hearing a demand for more stylish options, the brand is introducing more colors and additional long-sleeve styles, all with UPF 50+ sun protection. “The designs were inspired by the continued trend toward sun-protection,” Schaub says. “By combining longer sleeves and built-in fabric sun-protection along with our playful prints and designs, we are able to achieve a unique combination that doesn’t sacrifice cute styling for protection.”
Executives agree that one of the most fundamental rules to designing children’s swimwear is making the young—and often insecure—wearer feel comfortable and confident. “As children start to become more aware of their growing bodies, it can be easy to feel self-conscious,” Smith says. Her goal is to create Milly Minis designs that celebrate all body types and encourage confidence through the use of colors and prints. “It comes down to doing our part to make little fashionistas happy.”