A few years ago, a new influx of independent swimwear labels like Lisa Marie Fernandez, Zimmermann and We Are Handsome injected a much-needed dose of cool into the swim market. Now that those brands have become household names, a new wave of under-the-radar swim lines have caught our attention.
And while these up-and-coming swim labels might all be new to the scene, that’s where the similarities end. Whether they’re based in Africa, California, or Australia; whether they’re all about the no-frills one piece, or the overtly sexy slashed-to-here bikini, each brand has got its own distinct point of view.
“I can definitely pick out three trends going on right now,” says Krystle Kemp, women’s buyer for Need Supply, our go-to for up-and-coming labels. “They are: Sport-influenced (surf) suits, ’70s and ’80s beach babe vibes with high-cuts, low rises, Brazilian bottoms, and the sexy (rather than vintage) one-piece with cut-outs, straps and mesh.”
She added: “Our girl is still buying high-waisted bandeaux bikinis and sweet vintage prints/styles… and [she's] not into the fierce, sexier, sportier stuff that’s trending overall yet–maybe next year.”
Whereas the last crop of up-and-coming swim labels moved away from anything overtly “sexy”, a handful of this new batch of brands is embracing swimwear’s inherent titillating qualities–but in a way that’s not cliché or expected. As a direct counterbalance, other new labels are sticking to unsexy classics–like a basic black one-piece, or a sturdy (read: no strings attached) two-piece–that feel fresh right now. In fact, out of all the brands we looked at, not one did a classic string bikini–even for the new sexy brands, string bikinis are too guache.
Read on for the under-the-radar labels that should be on your radar right now.