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Changing robes, coats for dogs and matching foot mats: Summer swimwear business heats up

independent.ie– Swimming apparel has never been so fashionable but sometimes, an unexpected controversy lands on shore.

When French designer Louis Réard gave the world a daring two –piece he called the bikini back in July 1946, it was slammed for being too risqué and scandalous.

Micro mankinis on South American beaches and the full swim bodysuits at the Olympics have generated acres of analysis and comment.

Closer to home, it was the oversized fleecy coats designed as changing robes for outdoor enthusiasts which sent temperatures soaring last summer.

Who can forget the tales of the ‘Great Dryrobe Wars of South County Dublin’ during lockdown?

Depending on where you dive into this story, it lapped around no nonsense swimmers unimpressed by new kids on the blocks, cocooned in expensive fancy fleece robes for post splash cosiness.

Largely a Dublin-centric fashion rage, even the Guardian newspaper in the UK covered the coastal tensions and how there was “choppy waters as clash of the ‘newbie Dryrobe types’ with ‘hardy’ bathers swells into debate on tribes and snobbery.”

Either way, waterproof, outdoor changing robes available from a number of different brands here sold exceeding well, costing on average €150-170, with demand often outstripping supply.

It was a line in the sand, so to speak, and fashion brands watched with interest and with June around the corner, the market is seeing new action and new products for all the family.

Today Dunnes Stores take the plunge into the post swim style arena by launching a unisex, fleece-lined waterproof changing robe. However, the Irish retail chain are upping the comfort quotient for swimmers and the new range has a mat, in the same colour and fabrics as the coat-style robes, to keep your toes warm as you change and enjoy some post-swim chats.

The new Dunnes Stores range features a robe (€70) , a hooded towelling poncho (€15) and the roll-up mat (€10). The oversized robe with waterproof and windproof 100pc nylon outer shell, contrasting fleece lining and extra deep fleece lined zip pockets to keep your hands warm comes in four sizes, S-XL. Priced at €70, shades include blue and black, with contrasting fleece linings, and a red version is due in July,

Irish brand Swimclub continues to build on the success they’ve enjoyed since they launched last October and quickly discovered the scale of the interest in cosy coats for use pre and post swims.

Founded by two brothers, Jamie and Daniel Gill, who were sea swimming, surfing and sailing enthusiasts, they call their product the ‘Snug’ and launched the €90 long sleeved coat on their website, swimclub.ie

Visitors to their site will see they are sold out but next Monday, they are launching their latest styles, including a children’s size costing €70, and there’s even doggy Snugs coming, in two sizes.

Meanwhile another Irish brand, Stable of Ireland, have introduced a range aimed at swimmers which euologises the versatile qualities of Irish linen.

Sonia Reynolds and Frances Duff designed a four piece Swim Collection
which includes a multifunctional linen towel (€120) that also works as a wrap dress, a sarong style skirt, a big scarf, a sunbathing mat and or for laying out a picnic on.

Also in their sea swimmers kit, they have is a tie-string linen bag(€35) lined with a waterproof fabric, idea for wet togs; a swim turban (€55) for tucking back wet hair and keeping your head warm post swim and the fourth and a hold all tote (€55) for all the extras, like your flask of tea!

Sonia said: “2020/21 saw Irish people take to the sea in their droves in a bid to exercise mind and body and beat off the covid blues. To mark this, we designed a swim collection and we wanted to add to the daily swim ritual and create accessories that would feel great, look great and be fit for purpose.

They worked with Stephen Conway of Emblem Weavers in Wexford to develop the heavyweight textured linen fabric which is naturally anti-microbial, light to carry and fast drying.

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