As the weather warms up and fast fashion chains keep the flow of skimpy swimwear front and center, it’s hard to digest seeing bathing suits the price of a latte. When you consider the process of fiber to finished product, that suit hanging in your nearest Primark or H&M that goes for only a few bucks a piece, you’ve got to ask yourself how it could possibly be true.
Sourcing Journal recently reported that, according to analysts, “the average U.S. retailer is more than three times as expensive as Primark, with prices ranging from nearly 40 percent more at Walmart to as much as 400 percent more at Express. Even Forever 21’s prices are double.”
With most bathing suits made from nylon (which is made from coal and oil), and not from plant based materials like cotton or hemp, the prices can be considerably cheaper to source but not that low.
Image: Vaute Couture
Vaute Couture Founder, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart says when it comes the price of a bathing suit, regardless of how little material it is made of, or what it is made of, it shouldn’t cost anywhere near $3-$4 for a top or bottom.
“Basically they need to do the math of dividing it by 50% for average industry cost of goods (COGS), so that’s $2 at most, and then of that let’s just say the fabric costs $0, which is impossible, but at most the worker is paid $2 for making a swimsuit? That’s impossible. It would take at least a few hours to make a swimsuit so what are they getting paid, less than a $1/hour?,” questions Mai-ly Hilgart. “When you talk about it being the cost of a coffee- well it certainly takes longer to make a swimsuit than it does a coffee!”
Vaute Couture, recently released a new collection of vegan swimwear featuring one- and two-piece swimsuits made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled carpet fibers, all cut and sewn in the New York City’s garment district. With an average price tag of $70 for a top or bottom and $150 for a one piece, Mai-ly Hilgart’s says the price is more than fair.
Speaking on shopping ethically on a frugal budget, which she’s done for years as a bootstrapped entrepreneur she says the idea of fairness and pricing can be looked at another way.
“I would purchase investment pieces from companies that I wanted to support with good, fair business practices then the rest of my wardrobe, 85% of it, is thrifted super cheap, which is good for the environment and also adds up to spending the same amount as if my whole wardrobe was fast fashion from the mall and you end up with a wardrobe all your own, one of a kind because you curated it, not the magazines.”
(Cough) nor the fast fashion chains with a monopoly on giant billboards…