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Swimsuits can be made from various materials, including nylon, polyester, or a mixture of elastane. Whether you want swimwear for an infant or a young child, it is important to choose the appropriate material. The impact of different fabrics can vary, affecting the quality, comfort level, and overall experience for your kids. Here, we discuss the three most popular types of fabric used for making swimwear: polyester, elastane, and nylon. Understanding the benefits of each, along with their cost, durability, breathability, and comfort, is crucial.


Nylon refers to a group of synthetic polymers commonly used for creating different types of garments. Unlike traditional materials such as wool and cotton, nylon is completely synthetic and contains no organic components.

Originally, it was named “no-run” by the DuPont Corporation, the company that invented nylon, because it could resist snags when used in fabric. Later, it was renamed “nuron” after discovering that the material could run. Eventually, its name was changed to “nilon” and finally to “nylon.”

Nylon is a polymer, meaning it is made up of a series of organic molecules known as monomers, forming a chain composed of repeated links. Nylon is built from a family of materials derived from polyamide monomers. The original version was patented by DuPont, leading competitors to create alternatives.

Nylon’s properties make it a popular choice for swimwear. It is lightweight, durable, and has excellent elasticity. Additionally, nylon fabrics are resistant to abrasion and damage from oils and chemicals, making them suitable for prolonged exposure to water and sun. However, nylon can degrade over time when exposed to chlorine, so proper care is essential to maintain the longevity of nylon swimwear.

Uses and Advantages of Nylon

Nylon is a strong material that can resist abrasion, making it ideal for various sports. Although it is not as elastic as elastane, it has excellent elastic recovery, meaning it won’t easily lose its shape even after stretching. Additionally, nylon has excellent resistance to UV rays, which is why it is popular in swimwear. While its protection against UV rays is not as high as elastane, its chemical components boost its sun-protective properties. Hence, nylon is a better option than cotton and other natural fibers for swimwear.

Furthermore, nylon is water-resistant. If you have a “water-resistant” windbreaker, it is likely made from nylon. Unlike fabrics such as cotton and silk, nylon doesn’t absorb moisture or water.

Therefore, when you go swimming or to the gym, you can wear a nylon shirt, and sweat or water from the pool will stay on the surface and eventually evaporate. This water-resistant quality makes nylon an ideal option for summer apparel and umbrellas where moisture-wicking is essential. This quality also prevents the development of mold and mildew.

Nylon was initially used as an alternative to silk, specifically for stockings. Unlike silk, nylon is more durable and much cheaper. Today, nylon is still used for stockings and other form-fitting garments such as tights and yoga pants.

Additionally, nylon can be used for various sportswear, although it is not as superior as semi-synthetic and synthetic fibers like elastane and polyester. While nylon has excellent moisture-wicking properties, it is not as effective as elastane and polyester in this area. Therefore, it may not be the best choice for some physical activities.

In summary, nylon’s strength, water resistance, and UV protection make it a versatile material for various applications, particularly in swimwear and activewear. However, for activities requiring high moisture-wicking, materials like elastane and polyester may be more suitable.


Elastane, commonly known as Spandex, is a synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% polyurethane. The name “Spandex” is derived from the word “expand,” highlighting the material’s key feature.

Technically, there is only one type of elastane, but it has been given various names, including Spandex. When DuPont first developed this material, it was referred to as Spandex. Later, it was branded as Lycra, a name that has remained as DuPont’s registered trademark when marketing it to manufacturers.

Elastane consists of a series of polyurethane chains that can be stretched significantly and return to their original shape when released. Similar to rubber, elastane is more versatile, stronger, lighter, and superior in many aspects. Due to its chemical composition, elastane can expand up to eight times its size.

Uses and Advantages of Elastane

Elastane is popularly used in swimwear because of its superior UV-protective quality, with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 25-39. Studies show that when the fabric is elasticized, relaxed, and wet, it has an excellent UPF rating, unlike non-elasticized knits that offer insufficient UV protection. Generally, elastane is mixed with other fabrics such as bamboo, cotton, rayon, and wool. Combining elastane with these materials produces a resilient, versatile fabric with superior shape retention. In swimwear, elastane is commonly blended with nylon or polyester.

Though not breathable, elastane has moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for summer wear since sweat won’t be evident, and it dries quickly once out of the water. Elastane is comfortable to wear due to its stretchiness, making it a preferred choice for competitive swimmers. The fabric is light and clings to the skin, offering better aerodynamics. It is safe for kids to use when swimming since it has no loose openings.

Manufacturers commonly use elastane for streamlined and form-fitting garments like skinny jeans, ski pants, and yoga pants. Often, elastane is combined with other fabrics because it is not economical on its own. Due to its superior elasticity and strength, elastane can extend the lifespan of the apparel it is blended with. Elastane swimwear can last several years if well cared for. It is essential to rinse elastane swimwear in cool water after every use to maintain its quality.


Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum. It was introduced to the fashion world in the seventies. Some apparel products are made entirely of polyester, while others combine polyester with natural fibers like cotton, resulting in a poly-blend.

One of the greatest benefits of combining polyester with cotton is that it enhances durability and reduces shrinkage. Moreover, polyester’s high resistance to extreme conditions helps reduce wrinkling, making it perfect for outdoor applications.

One of the most popular types of polyester fiber is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or ethylene polyester. This polyester is produced using ethylene as the polymer that interacts with other chemicals, resulting in a stable fibrous compound. You might not be aware that most of the synthetic products we use daily are made from PET.

Uses and Advantages of Polyester

For several years, polyester fabric has been commonly used in the swimwear industry. Whether used on its own or combined with elastane, polyester has become a preferred material for swimwear.

Due to modern technologies, the texture of polyester has greatly evolved, making polyester clothing more comfortable on the skin compared to other types of fabrics. Additionally, polyester retains color longer and resists chlorine, making it ideal for swimwear.

Many people choose polyester swimwear for various reasons, such as its high UPF rating of 25-39. Polyester also contains a benzene ring capable of absorbing UV light, and shiny polyester clothing offers more protection against UV rays by reflecting radiation.

Spandex offers a wide variety of fabrics for swimwear, sportswear, and more. For the perfect fabric, call us at 213.629.7416 or email us at [email protected].