Warnaco: Defying Typical Trend

The Warnaco Group owns the brands Speedo, Calvin Klein and Chaps by Ralph Lauren, as well as many others. Usually, apparel companies like this, which fall into the Consumer Discretionary Company category (along with household durable goods and the auto industry) fare poorly in a time when Americans have less money to spend–like now.

However, a recent report shows that Warnaco is one company actually faring better than it was one year ago.

But, why? Well, there’s really one giant reason. Warnaco won a gold medal of its own when Speedo designed the LZR swimsuit worn by nearly every swimmer in this year’s Beijing Olympics. The suit is an advancement in technology that is new to the sport of swimming. Here’s how it helps swimmers go faster:

  • Uses a tighter, corset-like midsection that is reported to reduce fatigue at the end of races.
  • A new material that is water repellent and reduces drag by 5% compared to older, slower swimsuits
  • They are seamless, consisting of special panels of the repellent material that further reduces drag
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The LZR, which costs nearly $550 a piece, was so successful that 90% of the gold medalists in swimming wore one. Clearly, Warnaco hit the jackpot with licensing Speedo to promote this swimsuit.

And, when it comes to the swimsuit market, Warnaco seems to be scaring off its North American competitors, too. Nike just announced in September that it will no longer make swimsuits.

Will Warnaco be able to grow in the face of the recent economic crisis? After all, many attribute their revenue to the swimsuit itself, and the next summer Olympics aren’t until 2012. Plus, sports like swimming often fall off the radar in the U.S. on non-Olympic years. That’s not stopping Warnaco from aiming high.

Warnaco President Joseph Grosek recently said, “I would be disappointed if we didn’t go through 10 or 15,000 pre-Christmas.” So, if you have an extra $550 and would like to buy one, just head to Speedo’s website.

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