By N. Jayne Seward
Children’s designers are offering beachwear that is as fun, eye-catching and functional as it is socially and environmentally responsible. With sun protection on the high-priority list and mini-me styles trending stronger than ever, designers are pushing the boundaries with new ideas, innovative fabrics and conversational prints.
“What we love about designing for children is that we can use emerging trends, like sporty details and exaggerated ruffles, to accent our swimsuits and stay relevant without losing our brand identity,” explains KIDS THESE DAYS co-owners Renee Kuci and Samantha Stephan. The aunt/niece duo creates their collection utilizing Kuci’s skills in design and marketing, and Stephan’s expertise in merchandising; it’s a true collaboration. What sets the Miami-based brand apart from the rest is its use of marine life photo-real prints on trendy styles with back details and ruffles. The Kids These Days collection is crafted for children with appropriate coverage in silhouettes, such as trendy high-waist bottoms and the brand’s “Betweenie,” a cross between a bikini and a tankini. Recently, a girls’ scuba suit, beach towels and a boys’ line have been added to the collection. “The ‘Mom or Dad & me’ category is not slowing down” reports Stephan. “Parents continue to ask for options to match their kids.” Recently, the brand added a “Dad & me” option for boys after months of requests from customers. According to Kuci, “parents are becoming more and more aware of the damaging effects of sun exposure and are demanding children’s swimwear with built-in UV protection. Rash guards are crucial for extra protection and are more stylish than ever.”
Kids These Days
Adriana Dranoff, PLANET SEA designer and founder, also notes that rash guards are trending heavily. “The surprising trend is that rash guards are being used not only by surfers and little kids; everybody is looking for sun protection,” explains Dranoff, who adds that they are now worn as beach-to-street wear. The Brazilian swimwear brand is offering rash guards in fashion-forward fabrics like jacquards, and micro fibers with cool-touch and quick-dry properties featuring treatments such as laser-cut details, metallic trims and UPF50+ protection. Colors for the season range from pastels, including nude, salmon, coral, lilac and light pink; to bright colors, such as pink, turquoise and orange. And, of course, red, white and navy are always in style. Planet Sea’s prints for the season have fun and playful names such as “Arabesque,” “Candyland,” “Sandy Unicorn,” “Stripes & Stars,” “Lovely Hearts” and “Tropical Pineapple.” Dranoff is using sublimation and digital printing, fish-skin texture and suede looks with stretch and cool-touch technology in her collection. New for Planet Sea this season are accessories such as matching arm floaties for infants and toddlers, headbands and hats in every print, and like prints for both boys and girls. For boys, Dranoff has designed Lycra shorts, aka “tighties,” in many prints as well as stripes and solids. Fashionable silhouettes and styles for the season, according to Dranoff, include the sporty bra under a cutout suit; long-sleeve rash guards paired with high-rise bottoms with contrasting strings and tassels; fully reversible styles with solids on one side and prints on the other; strappy details; and metallic trims. Gypsy sleeves are very hot, she says, and styles with macramé and elastic details are important.
The OFFCORSS 2019 collection takes inspiration from ocean themes, including the “Deep Sea” in saturated prints, vibrant colors and iridescents for girls, and “Retro Waves” surf-inspired, pastel tones for boys. Fabrics are innovative and colorful this season for this Colombian brand of beachwear for babies and kids. High-tech fabrics incorporate special techniques and developments, allowing stimulation of the senses while thermosensitive textile inks change color with heat. Seahorses, starfish, palm trees and surfboards are print topics for the new collection. Rash guards are an important component. For girls, details are bright and feature foil techniques, Lurex thread and appliqués.
For SNAPPER ROCK, it’s all about prints and color. “Step into Season 2019 surrounded by color, color and more color, not to mention great style, with a strong use of print on print,” says Julie Rich, vice president of sales and U.S. operations for the swim and beachwear lifestyle brand. Rainbows of tropical colors are incorporated into the collection this season, from neon brights to beautiful pastels. The 2019 collection “is a little wild,” according to Rich. “We added a bit of the jungle and some tutti frutti, and have taken the kids down to the islands for a tropical escape.” Silhouettes include off-the-shoulder and x-back styles mixed with classic favorites in a variety of prints, including several pretty florals. Long-sleeve rash guards and cover-ups are key styles for the season, says Rich, adding that parents love the ease rash guards provide in adding extra protection from the sun. Snapper Rock’s suits offer UPF50+ protection. For 2019, new styles include swim dresses for girls and hybrid board shorts for boys that go from the beach to the playground. “We added even more ‘Mom & me’ and ‘Dad & me’ styles, as they were such big sellers last year,” says Rich. “It is a large and growing segment. We have stores that historically have never carried adult swimwear, and even they have added this category to their inventory.”
PLATYPUS AUSTRALIA is also responding to the demand for “Mom or Dad & me” swim and beachwear. “Children love it, and parents continue to embrace it,” explains Karel Wheen, founder and designer. The Australian brand has recently launched a small capsule for men and women that coordinates with its children’s collection. For Platypus Australia, whimsical and sophisticated prints, vibrant color mixing and neon accents are key for the 2019 collection. “Fresh new looks for the season include tie-dye tropical prints and retro geometrics,” says Wheen, adding that long sleeves, ruffles and off-the-shoulder styles are stand-out looks for the season. “We have seen a trend towards long-sleeve one-pieces for all ages plus an explosion of ruffles everywhere, some accented with tulle, particularly for baby,” says Wheen. Fashionable, sun-protective styles continue to grow in demand. “It is important to have sun-protective, mix-n-match stories, ensuring a protective sun shirt or sun jacket which matches the fashionable swimwear,” she explains. For babies, the brand has introduced soft, lightweight neoprene swimsuits and long-sleeved surf jackets with matching jammers.
Eco-friendly fabrics are important and one of the most directional trends going forward. “There is an increased focus on eco-friendly garments and sustainable fabrics, with many brands researching and implementing where possible,” explains Wheen, whose boys’ swim collection is offering a printed swim short produced from 58 percent recycled plastic bottles. “This is a development we will continue to see expand in the coming years. It is a fantastic direction from both the swimwear and fashion industry that we fully support and promote at Platypus Australia.”
Founded in 2012, THE BEAUFORT BONNET COMPANY’s claim to fame is a sunbonnet for kids and babies fashioned from a centuries-old heirloom pattern from Beaufort, S.C. Now that sun protection is more popular and necessary than ever, the timeless and practical bonnets and bucket hats are a big hit and sold at approximately 400 retail locations as well as online, according to company CEO Markey Hutchinson. The company has expanded to include an extensive line of apparel, swimwear and accessories for babies, new moms, children and adults. The Beaufort Bonnet Company will debut for the first time at SwimShow for Season 2019.
The Beaufort Bonnet Company