Swim Collective and Active Collective Forecast Trends as Crossover Registration Grows
At the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., sibling shows Swim Collective and Active Collective held their biannual events Jan. 29–30 as focus on creating a lifestyle experience continues to distinguish successful retail businesses. For Emerald Expositions, the parent company of the Swim Collective and Active Collective shows, this has meant blending apparel with other products such as health and wellness, beauty, and accessories to help buyers create a multi-category offering rather than a basic apparel business.
“All of the retailers I know who made it through everything are having a solid year. That is good,” said Roy Turner, senior vice president at Emerald Expositions. “It doesn’t seem that Amazon is going to destroy the markets. Retail in general, especially the retailers who are being innovative, are going to do well.”
For their part, this meant that the shows needed to create experiences for their buyers to illustrate that they are more than just trade events—they are offering experiences, just as retailers should do as well.
“One thing that is new that we introduced is the Vitality Studio, which ties in really nicely because we are preaching wellness and a wellness lifestyle throughout the show,” explained Devon Damelio, sales manager for Active Collective. “We do workouts and have B12 shots, in addition to wellness activations that are not only about activewear but also a healthy lifestyle at the same time.”
On the swim side, it’s meant anticipating the needs of the customer through shifting concerns in the industry. While incorporating greater environmentally friendly efforts has been a major concern in apparel, for swim it’s become more personal as beachgoers and water-sports enthusiasts are more likely to see the negative impact on the environment of ocean pollution.
“The show has been good in swim so far,” said Jane Preston, vice president of sales for Swim Collective. “Sustainable is a big deal in swim that has bubbled up to the top.”
This meant incorporating water wear with products that are relevant to the industry. At the booth for Cotz, a reef-friendly sunscreen, National Account Coordinator Devin O’Donnell and Julie Zimmerman, who manages sales business development, saw an opportunity as concerns for the environment grow in the swim category. The pair saw buyers from New Jersey, Florida and Hawaii.
“Hawaii is great for us because in January 2020 it banned the sale of chemical sunscreens,” O’Donnell explained. “If people are interested in buying high-quality apparel, we also use high-quality materials.”
Emerging swim trends
A push for sustainable approaches in the swim category has become a mission for organizations whose businesses rely on saving the oceans. This demand has become the cornerstone of Loop Swim, which is based in Shanghai and is looking to expand its presence into the United States. Through a partnership with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, founders Itee Soni and Heather Kaye are promoting their commitment to cleaning up the oceans while outfitting the people who enjoy exploring the seas.
“We partner with PADI,” Soni said. “They are our only U.S. presence, and we are their only swimwear partner, which is mostly due to our sustainability.”
The brand’s sourcing for its swimsuits relies on Repreve made from recycled water bottles, flip-flops made from recycled rubber and cover-ups created using organic cotton from Turkey. Securing the partnership with PADI says a lot about the authenticity of the company’s commitment to promoting a healthy planet, and the brand remains on course to strengthen its sustainable efforts.
“We’re trying to change this from a linear program to be totally circular. The main goal is to keep it out of the waste stream,” Kaye said. “We are an invested crowd. When people go to the beaches and they’re littered with plastic, divers firsthand see the effects.”
Another trend buyers searched for in swim was expanded sizing. Riley Becker, founder of Wild Desert Swim in Ojai, Calif., enjoyed the bold tropical prints that are trending but wanted to find them in larger sizes.
“Right now, I am looking for styles that go up in larger sizes. I am focusing on brands that have lower price points but also carry bigger sizes,” she said. “I’ve found it at Body Glove. They have D–F cups for top sizes. That is awesome.”
Shopping right before the season hits was a priority for Becker, who mentioned that the show boasted trusted brands in addition to smaller lines that provided fresh takes on swim.
One of those emerging brands, Akosha Swim, brought co-owners Gina Colesanti, who is also the chief executive, and Anna Newsome, who designs the label’s pieces, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Anaheim. The pair saw cheeky styles trending while tie-dye remained relevant. They bypassed trends in the category, instead creating swimwear that includes strategically placed vinyl panels that create the illusion of a multi-piece suit that stays in place without being sewn together.
“When they come to us, they love our translucent-vinyl trend,” Newsome explained. “That has been a main attraction.”
With a business focused on buying for luxury properties, Anne Salcedo, founder of the Orange County, Calif.–based AES International, attended the show with her buyers Kim Selvaggi and Lynsie Rouk to find spa products and visit trusted brands such as Solid & Striped, Helen Jon and Hat Attack.
“For us, it’s easy to get up here. We buy most of our stuff at L.A. markets and New York, but this has enough where we can meet with our vendors and do four or five key things,” said Salcedo, whose clients include the Montage Laguna Beach and Terranea. “We’re looking for new spa products. We just pulled the trigger on Kopari, who has this new natural deodorant. It’s not too crunchy so it’s good for a luxury resort.”
On the active side, buyers wanted pieces that stood out through fabrications offering alluring textures. As the director of retail for Gold’s Gym, Dean Stith was visiting Active Collective from Dallas for the third year, searching for women’s and men’s layering pieces that included hoodies, crop tops and T-shirts. While he can’t have enough unique prints, this season he wanted rich textures.
“Texture woven into the fabric that looks like a print from afar,” he said. “It’s tonal and subtle, gets you some interest. There is a lot of that here.”
For April Unger, a Seattle-based merchandiser for BDA Inc., the Active Collective show provided an opportunity to maintain a fresh approach through styles that have the potential to pop during the season.
“You walk away with apparent trends,” she said. “It helps when you’re trying to stay relevant.”
At the booth for Venice Beach, Calif.’s Onzie, owner and President Kimberly Swarth was putting her own spin on the animal-print trend but also offering pieces with deep texture.
“Animal prints are stronger than ever and getting more eccentric. Our number-one seller is our classic leopard. It’s shadowed and shaded in the right spots to flatter the body,” she said. “There is a lot of texture on tops—layering texture on texture.”
In addition to its new approaches to trends, the 10-year-old brand is introducing a sustainable collection made from yarns created from recycled plastic bottles, which will launch in April in time for Earth Day.
While the Onzie booth saw buyers from Florida, South Carolina, London and Germany, the company also received a visit from Ranim Hadid, founder of Cyqlone, a fitness studio based in Qatar. During her visit, Hadid wanted to find brands that could offer unique alternatives to mainstream brands such as Nike and Adidas.
“I am excited to bring some of these brands back home. I think it’s nice to bring some different exposure for the brands over there,” she said. “People over there need something different.”