Social media fuels parent-and-child matching beachwear fashion, as sun-protective wear continues to expand
By N. Jayne Seward
SNAPPER ROCK, known for its fashionable sun-protective swimwear, has extended its lifestyle brand for 2017 to include a baby collection, girls’ sizes up to 16, as well as women’s and men’s collections. “We have found a huge increase in the trend of ‘Dad and me,’” says Julie Rich, vice president of sales and US operations. “But the ‘Mom and me’ trend is expanding, and it’s going to be huge as well.” The 2017 collection includes matching boardshorts for father and son, as well as coordinating mother-and-daughter styles, such as caftans, bikinis, swim shorts and swim leggings. “Snapper Rock has something now for everybody in the family,” says Rich.
According to Rhonda Sparks, founder and CEO of UV SKINZ, popular items for kids are swim shirts and skirts for girls; swim shirts and boardshorts for boys; and a sun suit for babies, which provides full-coverage sun protection from neck to ankle. “We get requests from parents all the time and testimonials that they love our bright colors, which makes it easy to find their kids at the beach or pool,” she says. Sparks invented items such as the brand’s Baby Sun Legz, which are worn like sleeves on the legs; a Baby Sun Suit, or an everyday play romper; and Water Jelliez, rubber-soled shoes for kids, which are a perfect solution for walking on hot sand or pavement. Every May during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Sparks gives away free baby shirts that say “What’s a Sunburn?” on the front. This year, the company gave away more than 10,000 shirts. “We don’t believe that any baby should know what a sunburn feels like,” says Sparks.
“The father-and-son matching swim short concept is one that really resonates with the whole family,” says Michelle L’Huillier, founder and creative director of TOM & TEDDY. “Feedback from consumers shows that a father and son truly share a bonding experience when they wear the same shorts.” The brand’s bright swim shorts in pineapple, octopus and seagull prints are best-sellers this season, adds L’Huillier, while T-shirt style rash tops and swimwear in versatile quick-dry fabrics are also doing well. L’Huillier says retailers see a significant sales spike around Father’s Day and holidays when they promote the father-and-son concept.
Other brands, including 98 COAST AV., are adapting the trend for the whole family. “We have been getting a lot of feedback from our customers requesting some styles that the whole family can use,” says Rafael Rayek, 98 Coast Av. CEO, who is seeing the father-and-son trend the strongest in the U.S. market. The brand will soon be adding rash guards, Bermudas and linen shirts with matching prints.
For PLATYPUS AUSTRALIA, studying the trends and themes from the adult market and translating them to children has been an ongoing practice. “The industry has discovered that children love to match with mum and dad, adding an exciting new dimension to the swimwear market, which is being adopted by many brands for season 2017,” says Karel Wheen, designer. “Another trend across all swimwear is the more fashion-forward, sun-protective rash guard.” Wheen adds that the trend toward performance and athletic silhouettes continues to strengthen.
AZUL SWIMWEAR is offering “Dad and me” matching swim shorts for both boys and girls. “I think this trend is taking off because men are wearing colorful, happy prints and shorter, more European-style shorts,” says Carina Goldfarb, owner. “Kids are also wearing more sophisticated prints that are inspired by adult fashions.” New styles added this season include one-piece leotards, crop rash guards, swimmers in stretch fabrics, matching bucket hats for infants and toddlers, and a popular off-the-shoulder peasant top.
“The ‘Mom and me’ trend has been spotted everywhere, including swim, this year,” says Amber Schaub, founder and CEO of RUFFLEBUTTS. “The trend is fueled by celebrities posting photos of themselves and their mini-mes in coordinating outfits.” Schaub adds that RuffleButts styles such as Ruffled Rash Guards lean more toward “Mom-and-me coordinating” versus “Mom-and-me matching.” Sun protection has continued to grow in popularity and, according to Schaub, it’s affecting swimwear trends in a big way. New styles for RuffleButts this season include a popular three-piece zip-front rash guard, tankini and bikini set, and a best-selling long-sleeve Painted Flowers Stripe Rash Guard Bikini.
According to Jennifer Weisman, owner and designer of JUST BONES BOARDWEAR, the “Daddy and me” category is currently an enormous trend. “I have to admit, I find it completely adorable,” she says, adding that there are many well-known swimwear brands capitalizing on the trend. “Moms and dads alike seem to be wild about the ‘mini-me’ style.” In fact, Just Bones Boardwear is offering prints that span from toddler sizes to men’s sizes so the entire family can plan a day at the beach in matching boardshorts.
“The retro ’70s to ’90s have been making a comeback in fashion,” says Debbie Naren, founder and design director of LIMEAPPLE. “The younger fashion generation is borrowing silhouettes and trends from the generation before them, making the ‘Mom or Dad and me’ trend increasingly popular.” Celebrities and influential moms are also feeding the trend on social media in all aspects of fashion, she adds. The one-piece swimsuit is a prominent silhouette for 2017, says Naren, as are sportier silhouettes, cropped hemlines and halter necklines.
Shari Murphy, USA director for BABY BANZ, is noticing a trend toward more rash tops for women. “Moms are starting to worry about their skin and not just their children’s, which is a great trend in terms of sun safety,” says Murphy. “We have seen an uptake in [children’s] long-sleeve rash guards, which also probably has to do with more education getting out to parents about the dangers of over-exposure in the sun, and the support of major fashion houses bringing the pieces in as well.”
TUTUBLUE’s sun-protective long beach suits in matching prints are a popular “Mom and me” style, according to Sarah Buxton, owner. “Tutublue prints make it exciting for the young ones to wear a full suit, and mom feels happy because her little one is completely protected from the sun. So it is a win-win situation. Girls love to dress like their moms, and now they can both be cool doing it as well as being sun-safe.”