Swimwear is one of those special categories of clothing that has been around for years and years. For years, people have been recreationally swimming and they need some type of special clothing to swim in. It would be hard (and take far too much of your time) to go through the complete history of swimwear, so we wanted to focus on the 20th century through present day. How have styles evolved? Why does our designer swimwear look the way it does today? And what can we expect for styles of the future?
At the dawn of the 1900′s, all sorts of recreational activities were becoming more and more popular. There wasn’t such a gap between the wealthy and the lower class, so more people were able to start taking vacations and weekend trips to the seaside. Women wore large bathing dresses, that were often bulky and hard to swim in. The gowns were at least knee-length, often black, and made of wool. For obvious reasons, women didn’t do much swimming in these dresses.
Flash forward about forty years and hemlines and sleeves are suddenly a thing of the past. War has ended, people are happy, and pin-ups are all the rage. These curvy women loved to show off their figures in body-hugging monokinis. Usually cut low on the leg and more straight-across on the top, the swimsuits were still fairly conservative. Until two French designers went further than any other designer had gone, and cut the one-piece monokini into two, creating the first ever bikini.
Created by Louis Reard and Jacques Heim, the first bikini was still fairly conservative (as far as two-pieces are concerned) in that the bottoms came up high enough to cover the navel (a scandalous body part to show off at the time). The bathing suit was named the “Atome” and dubbed the world’s “smallest bathing suit”. Reard was the man who called the swimsuit a bikini, named after a series of islands where nuclear bomb testing was being done- assuming that it would create the same type of reactions amongst people when it was revealed. Reard then cut a few inches off the top of the bikini bottoms, revealing the wearer’s navel. Because of its scandalous new look, it was near impossible to find a model to advertise the new swimsuit. So, Reard found the one type of person he knew would gladly show off her navel- a nude dancer from Paris, Micheline Bernardini. Once the shockwave wore off, the bikini became a huge hit.
Still a huge hit, the same basic style of string bikini Louis Reard came up with 60 years ago, is still being designed and re-designed today. Nowadays, luxury swimwear companies such as Lady Lux have re-invented the string bikini to add glamorous details and hardware. 60 years ago the concept of adding chains and stones to a swimsuit might have seemed impossible, however, Lady Lux does it with class and grace! It’s hard to say where the future of swimwear is headed, but we definitely like it!