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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.

swimwear animal print and model wearing it + line sheet example

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.

Designing a swimwear clothing line with Digital Fashion Pro software involves the following steps:

  1. Research and Inspiration: Start by researching current swimwear trends, styles, and silhouettes. Look for inspiration in swimwear brands, fashion magazines, online sources, and runway shows. Familiarize yourself with different swimwear categories, such as bikinis, one-pieces, tankinis, and swim shorts.
  2. Create a Collection Plan: Develop a plan for your swimwear clothing line, including the types of swimwear you want to offer, the overall theme or aesthetic, and the target audience you want to cater to (e.g., sporty, luxury, vintage). Define your brand identity and unique selling points.
  3. Choose Templates: Open Digital Fashion Pro software and select templates that correspond to the swimwear styles you want to design. Digital Fashion Pro provides a range of templates for different swimwear types, including tops, bottoms, and one-piece suits.
  4. Customize the Templates: Use the design tools in Digital Fashion Pro to customize the selected templates according to your swimwear designs. Modify the neckline, straps, back details, coverage, and silhouette to create unique and appealing swimwear styles. Consider incorporating elements such as cutouts, ruffles, bows, or other decorative features.
  5. Fabric and Color Selection: Experiment with different fabric options and colors to visualize how your swimwear designs will look. Digital Fashion Pro allows you to apply textures, patterns, and colors to the templates, helping you explore various fabric choices and color combinations for your swimwear line.
  6. Add Details and Functional Elements: Enhance your swimwear designs by adding functional elements and details that improve fit, support, and comfort. Consider features like adjustable straps, removable padding, underwire support, or strategic lining. Use the software’s tools to incorporate these details into your swimwear designs.
  7. View and Refine: Utilize Digital Fashion Pro’s 2D+ visualization capabilities to view your swimwear designs from different angles. Assess the fit, proportions, and overall aesthetics of the garments. Make any necessary adjustments or refinements to ensure your designs align with your vision.
  8. Save and Present: Save your swimwear designs within Digital Fashion Pro. You can export them in various formats for sharing with manufacturers, creating lookbooks, or presenting them to potential investors or clients.

Digital Fashion Pro can assist you in visualizing your swimwear designs. You will still need to work with manufacturers or sample makers to bring your designs to life. Digital Fashion Pro serves as a valuable tool for designing, presenting, and communicating your swimwear clothing line. Keep in mind that Digital Fashion Pro also features tools to help you bridge the gap between design and manufacturing. Digital Fashion Pro teaches you how to get your designs in a manufacturer-ready format (tech packs) so you can present your designs to manufacturers. DFP also includes manufacturing contacts that you can collaborate with / hire to make your samples and production. Ultimately, Digital Fashion Pro enables you to bring your ideas to life visually and helps you effectively convey your design concepts to others involved in the production process.

What Fabrics Are Great for Swimsuits?

When it comes to choosing fabrics for swimsuits, it’s important to consider factors such as comfort, stretch, durability, and resistance to chlorine and UV rays. Here are some fabrics commonly used for swimsuits:

  1. Nylon: Nylon is one of the most popular choices for swimsuits due to its excellent stretch and recovery properties. It is lightweight, quick-drying, and resists wrinkles. Nylon is also known for its durability and resistance to fading, making it a reliable option for swimwear.
  2. Spandex/Lycra: Spandex, also known as Lycra or elastane, is a synthetic fiber renowned for its exceptional stretch and recovery abilities. It is often blended with other fabrics, such as nylon or polyester, to provide flexibility and shape retention in swimwear. The addition of spandex ensures a snug fit and freedom of movement.
  3. Polyester: Polyester is another common fabric used in swimsuits. It offers good durability, colorfastness, and resistance to chlorine and UV rays. Polyester is less stretchy compared to nylon or spandex, so it is often blended with spandex for added elasticity and comfort.
  4. Polyester PBT: PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) is a variant of polyester that is specifically designed for swimwear. It has similar properties to regular polyester but offers better chlorine resistance, making it ideal for frequent pool use.
  5. Polyamide: Polyamide, also known as nylon, is a synthetic fabric that combines durability and stretch. It is resistant to pilling, which can be important for swimsuits subjected to friction in water. Polyamide is often blended with elastane (spandex) to enhance its elasticity.
  6. Chlorine-Resistant Fabrics: Some swimsuit fabrics are specially treated or engineered to be more resistant to the damaging effects of chlorine. These fabrics, such as polyester PBT or polyester blended with chlorine-resistant fibers, offer better longevity and color retention when frequently exposed to chlorinated pools.

It’s worth noting that the specific blend and construction of the fabric can also affect its performance. Always check the label or consult with the fabric supplier to ensure the fabric meets your desired criteria for swimsuit use.


Swimwear trends can vary from season to season, influenced by factors such as fashion runways, celebrity styles, and evolving preferences. Here are some current trends in swimwear:

  1. High-Waisted Bottoms: High-waisted bikini bottoms have become increasingly popular in recent years. They provide more coverage and offer a retro-inspired look that flatters various body types. High-waisted bottoms can range from modest to bold, with options like ruffles, cutouts, or high-cut legs.
  2. One-Shoulder Styles: One-shoulder swimsuits and bikinis are gaining popularity, adding an asymmetrical and stylish touch to swimwear. This design features a single strap on one shoulder, creating an eye-catching and unique look. It can be combined with various necklines, from bandeau to plunging.
  3. Cutouts: Swimsuits with strategically placed cutouts continue to be on-trend. These cutouts can be found on the sides, front, or back of the swimsuit, adding a hint of allure and highlighting different parts of the body. Cutout designs can range from small and subtle to more elaborate and daring.
  4. Animal Prints: Animal prints, such as leopard, zebra, and snake patterns, are a popular choice in swimwear. These prints add a bold and exotic touch, creating a statement look on the beach or by the pool. Animal prints can be found in a variety of colors and styles, from classic neutrals to vibrant hues.
  5. Sustainable Fabrics: As sustainability becomes increasingly important in the fashion industry, swimwear made from eco-friendly materials is gaining traction. Brands are utilizing recycled fabrics, such as regenerated nylon or polyester, to create swimsuits that are both stylish and environmentally conscious.
  6. Sporty-Inspired Swimwear: Sporty swimwear continues to be a trend, with styles influenced by athletic designs. Think racerback tops, zip-up fronts, and high-necklines. These swimsuits are not only fashionable but also provide additional support and functionality for active beach or water activities.
  7. Vibrant Colors and Prints: Bold and vibrant colors are in vogue, with neon shades, tropical prints, and floral patterns being particularly popular. These vibrant swimwear options add a playful and lively element to beach and poolside outfits.

Remember, swimwear trends can vary and personal style is key. Design swimwear that will make your clients and customers feel comfortable, confident, and suits their body shapes and preferences.


Learn More About Digital Fashion Pro and how it can help you design your own swimwear and launch your swimwear brand.