History of the bikini
Any day we get to wear our bikinis is like a celebration to us, but today we have an extra reason to rejoice, International Bikini Day, 5th July.
Today marks the day that swimsuits became a little more itsy bitsy and shaped the course of women’s fashion forever – can you imagine a world without bikinis?! Take a journey with us through the history of the bikini and learn more about the beloved two-piece.
Contrary to the belief that the bikini is a modern invention, its earliest history can be traced back to Ancient Rome where illustrations depict Roman women wearing bikini-like outfits for gymnastics. However, it is not until the 20th century when two-pieces became popular again.
Fast forward to 1913, women are allowed to compete in the Olympics and American designer, Carl Jantzen, introduces a two-piece bathing suit, that looks more like a top and shorts, to better the athlete’s performance. In the 1940s, World War II is in full effect and the US government orders manufacturers to reduce the amount of fabric being used. Fashion houses begin pushing the boundaries of swimming suits by exposing small amounts of midriff.
On July 5th 1946, a French engineer named Louis Réard unveiled his daring new invention at a public pool in Paris: the bikini. Featuring a triangular top, high-cut brief and exposing the wearer’s navel for the first time, Réard names his creation after a US atomic test, Bikini Atoll. Réard’s bikini causes quite a stir for his seemingly scandalous design. Bikini sales did not immediately pick-up and instead are banned in many countries, including Australia.
In the early 1950s, a young Brigitte Bardot popularised the bikini when she caught the attention of photographers at the Cannes Film Festival as she lounged on the beach. Western societies slowly began to accept the bikini and by the 1960s it was a popular culture icon with the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini topping the charts in 1961 and Ursula Andress’ famous Bond moment in 1963 when she emerged from the water in a white, belted bikini.
The creation of Lycra fabrication in the 1960s changed the construction of bikinis, allowing for a more flattering fit that suits a range of body shapes. Other fabrics began to emerge in the 1970s like velvet, crochet and even leather! The 1980s saw a greater variety of shapes introduced including tank tops, bandeaus and skimpier cut bottoms including the string bikini.
Today, bikinis are the go-to swimwear choice for many women. At JETS, we love creating bikinis that make you feel confident and beautiful, with a wide range of styles to fit all body shapes. Happy International Bikini Day!