$100 Swimsuits May Only Take $5 to Make, but is Overpaying Worth It?

The anxiety women often feel as bathing suit season approaches stems from body insecurities and the realization that sporting swimwear in public will soon be unavoidable.

This JCrew swimsuit costs roughly around $90 while the Forever 21 swimsuit on the right rounds out at $21

Here is what these and all women should worry about when it comes to swimwear: A suit that costs $5 to make can sell for $100. It seems retailers have figured out that women will pay whatever they charge for swimsuits and are taking advantage. {NYTimes}

Hold on before you go running to H&M or Forever 21, where suits regularly sell for under $30 for two pieces though. Paying for a pricier bathing suit may be worth it for some.

Advances in swimsuit technology such as weatherproof fabrics and girdle-inspired shaping material correlate positively with the rising price of swimsuits. The same goes for the advantage of being able to mix and match top sizes and patterns with different bottoms. Mix-and-match pleases consumers, as most women wear different top and bottom sizes, but it costs the retailer more because of extra tickets and packaging.

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, said mix and match pieces have caused suits that cost say $50 before this trend became the norm to rise to $70. He added that heavy turnover in swimwear also contributes to higher price tags. “This year’s swimwear is rarely used again next year,” he said. {NYTimes}

Malia Mills, who makes designer suits that can cost $340, said bathing suits get a “hard knock when it comes to pricing.” She added that panties, which resemble swimwear, don’t cost as much because they don’t have to be made to withstand the wear and tear swim suits do.

She said a bikini “has to keep its shape and look good when it’s been exposed to sunlight and sand, and saltwater and chlorine and sunscreen and body oil. It’s a little tiny piece of fabric, but it has to really perform.”

If you ask us, being able to choose top and bottom pieces separately is essential for good fit and necessary to looking your best in a suit, and, even if you aren’t interested in anything that feels like a girdle, advanced technology can be important for keeping a swimsuit together under rough conditions like ocean waves.

Our only concern is that NYTimes reported that stores like Target are able to sell cheaper suits because, as a mass retailer, they can negotiate better prices for fabric, but it is unclear whether they purchase the same fabrics designers like Mills do. What’s also not clear from the story is if the $20 and $30 swimwear costs $5. If the $20 suit costs $1 to make, the markup is the same even if the final price is much lower.

If you wear your suit every day all summer, investing in a new one each year is probably worth it, but the $340 splurge seems unnecessary. J.Crew makes swimsuits that cost about $90, and, even if they may only take $5 to make, users have reported they “last forever.” The idea of such massive overpaying is infuriating, but it’s better to risk shelling out an unfair amount than discovering a cheaper suit becomes transparent in water or snaps off in a wave. {The Cut}

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