how to start a swimwear line - design your own swimwear

How To Start a Swimwear Line


Starting your own swimwear line is an exciting venture. Designing your own swimwear offers you the opportunity to create beautiful collections that showcase your creativity and style. It doesn’t hurt either that the global swimwear market is a 20 billion dollar a year industry that is projected to grow steadily in the years to come. How do you get in this industry and crave out your niche? This article will help you with how to start a swimwear company from scratch.


Step 1 – Creating The Design Sketches For Your Swimwear

Many would say the first steps to creating your own swimwear company is to establish the business end first. They will tell you to create a business plan first for your clothing line. I am going to tell you a different approach that I believe will be more beneficial to you in the long run and cost effective. I will make one exception that you may want to do before creating your design sketches. If you plan on buying a software like Digital Fashion Pro to create your designs or using Adobe / any design tool that you have to pay for – then you will want to register your business first. This way you can write off any business expenses on your taxes. I will call registering your new business as step zero. If you decide to invest in software for creating your swimwear sketches first before registering your business that is fine as long as you register your business in the same calendar year as buying the software.


So why is using a clothing design software for swimwear important? The reason using fashion sketch software is important because manufacturers prefer for their clients to present them with professional digital fashion sketches so that they can better interpret how your swimsuit design is suppose to look. Digital fashion sketches helps your swimwear manufacturer or sample maker create your designs with greater accuracy. Using software over hand-sketching also helps you easily swap fabric choices, create different versions, share easily and catalog your designs. Plus if you are not great at drawing or can’t draw at all a fashion design program like Digital Fashion Pro allows you to create professional fashion sketches even if you can’t draw. For designing your own swimwear – it is a great choice for beginners and professionals.


Now here is the reason why your first focus of starting your swimwear line should focus on design. Design is where the magic happens. It is where you determine if you are good at designing swimsuits. It is where you channel your passion and creativity into each design. It is also where you begin to hone in and perfect your signature style. How are your designs different from what is currently on the market? What will be your signature colors, prints and fabrics. During this phase of launching your own swimwear line is where you need to do things that will get you inspired. Does that new design you created get you excited? Does the logo you have created for your brand make you super excited to get your designs into the real world? When showing your design illustrations to others – do they get excited for you? The design phase is where you will get the energy and inspiration to make a real go at launching your line of swimwear. If your collection will use prints – you can buy prints from print producers or even create your own prints for your designs. Using a swimwear design software can greatly help you incorporate fabrics, prints, logos and artwork into your design illustrations.

How to design swimwear

This is a Swimwear Sketch Created With Software

Step 2 – Creating a Business Plan For Your Swimwear Company

Now that you have created some swimwear sketches and got people interested in your collection you should proceed to plan out your business. Think about it this way. When people enroll in fashion school they learn how to design first before they think of actually starting their business. This is why I recommended focusing on design first. Now you want to create your business plan which is also your plan of action. Your clothing line business plan will include items like setting up your team, getting investment, how will you pay investors back, marketing your line, how will you sell your line, profit margins, cost, delivery, manufacturing, quality control, tags, labels, taxes, projections and hiring employees. Creating your clothing line business plan will be an ongoing live document because the only way to answer some of these questions or objectives is to actively be working on creating your company. For example – how can you talk about how much your cost will be to produce a swimsuit if you haven’t got a sample of it made. Therefore how can you say how much you will charge for your swimwear if you don’t know how much it will cost. This takes us to Step 3.

Step 3 – Getting Your Swimwear Designs Made

You have your swimwear sketches and have created the designs for your first collection. You have by this time got some consensus as to which of your designs people like the most so that you can focus on those. This is the time in which you have to do some homework and research on swimsuit construction as you begin the phase of getting your swimwear designs made. If you can sew that is great. You can sew your own samples or even your own finished pieces. However if you can’t sew then you don’t have to fret. Getting someone else to sew your swimwear pieces is the way to go. You want your designs to be top quality so letting professional sew your pieces in many cases is the way to go. You can look to get your swimwear made by sample-makers, pattern-makers, seamstresses and a clothing factory. One of your main objective at this stage is to get an understanding of what goes into making swimwear such as:

  • What fabrics are good for swimwear
  • Hygienic and Sanitary Issues
  • Packaging
  • Hardware & Fabric Sourcing
  • Construction Techniques (analyze competitors)
  • Fitting & Measurements (What market are you going after)
  • How many colorways you want to have per style


Once you have an idea about these matters you want to get your your samples made. To get someone to make your designs you need your fabric choice, swimwear sketch (front and back – maybe side view too depending on your design), technical sketch of the design that shows how your design should be measured, point out details and the actual measurements for your designs. Additional items that you will want to have in the long run would be grading of your style (measurements for the entire size range that will be created), tags, labels and packaging. All of these items will help you determine what your per piece cost will be. You then use this information to determine pricing and profit margins. A great forecasting tool to determine cost per collection is the Fashion Business Center Tool by It is also during this stage that you will want to have fittings and move your sample from the first sample stage to production samples. 

how to start a swimwear clothing line

This Swimwear Sketch Was Created With Digital Fashion Pro Software

Step 4 – Launching Your Swimwear Line

It is now time to launch your swimwear line. You may choose to launch a limited collection (budget friendly) or create a mass produced collection. From your business plan you have determined how best to market your clothing line. You want to make sure you have a website set up where people can view and purchase your collection. You want to have a presence on social media. In fact, you should be building and engaging with potential clients from the beginning. Showcase some of your design sketches (not your actual ones that you will produce for secrecy reasons) on social media to generate buzz and interest. Once you have samples of your swimsuits you may want to have a photo shoot to get photos of models in your pieces. Create your digital lookbook. You also want to create your bio. What inspired you to create your line in the first place. What makes you unique as a designer. Why is your collection unique? What type of customer was your collection built for? What problem or issue does your swimwear address? These are all items that will help you succeed as you launch your own swimsuit line. Be sure to check out this resource on how to start a clothing line.


Article by Michael Harper – Fashion Designer / Entrepreneur