Behind the Design: Spring Swim
Women designing for women makes all the difference when it comes to swimwear. Athleta swim designer, Erin Hartman, spends a lot of time in swimsuits, and says, “My number one pet peeve is bathing suit straps that dig into my shoulders. I always design suits that stay put, but don’t cause any discomfort. But I also work in beautiful design details because eventually you’re gonna come out of the water.” Only first-hand experience tells you which cut will stay in place even when it’s wet, how a supportive bra-style cup should truly fit, and what needs to be considered for a suit that fits different body types.
We talked to three women in our swim design team to find out what went into the creation of our spring collection.
Leslie Ferrick is a Senior Fabric Manager, specializing in research and development. She and her team took the lead in Athleta’s sustainability program, pledging to use 100% recycled fabrics by 2020. But crafting versatile suits from recycled fabrics requires materials never before used in swimwear. Leslie’s team worked with Athleta staff and customers to wear test a variety of potential fabrics. She now sees materials like recycled nylon and LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ fiber—designed to resist degradation from chlorinated water, the heat and sunscreen lotions up to 10 times longer than unprotected fabrics—as the future of Athleta’s swimwear fabrics.
“We are never willing to compromise on the quality, technology, or source of our fabrics. We went through a lot of testing and iteration to create a spring line that Athleta women will love.”
Casey Lawson, a Senior Tech Designer for Swim, is obsessed with fit, and more specifically, how to design a suit that looks amazing on any woman. For the spring line, that goal drove her and her team to simplify designs.
“For this collection, we wanted to refine options to make it easier for Athleta women to find the perfect suit. We standardized bra-style back hooks and relied on bra cup sizing for a more specific fit. Now women can select their exact bra size instead of S, M, L, XL.”
Knowing the Athleta women isn’t looking for a suit to spend sunny days poolside, Casey and her team focused on taking trends and making them wearable and comfortable for active women. For example, ladies with larger chests wanted a bra cup wrap bikini that flattered. Athleta’s designers created a wrap style with hidden underwire support for a top that’s cute and supportive.
For bottoms, which tend to ride up, especially when wet, designers focused on creating a more balanced silhouette, which customers will see in the new Gather Bottom–a fuller coverage piece with cute ruched details on the sides.
In addition to poppy pink and classic black, Anne Barrett, a Senior Designer in Trend & Concept, and her team dreamed up tropical palm-leaf prints, designs inspired by hand-dyed indigo fabrics, and summery floral patterns influenced by tropical spots like Rio and Tahiti. But it wasn’t just the beach-worthy styles Anne was focused on.
“Sustainability is very important to us as well as having the highest quality of swimwear and we are glad that we were able to bring our customer a truly eco-suit that doesn’t compromise the quality she expects from us. In the spring collection, we really put our new fabric to the test and feel excited to bring this beautiful new collection to our customers.”
Like Casey’s team, Anne’s also wanted to make sure styles in the spring collection were on-trend. In the new suits, customers will see strappy backs, woven macrame details, and ruched hip panels on bottoms.