As we prepare to launch our first range of swimwear in 2020, we thought it may be interesting to share how the swimsuit has evolved over time. From the full bathing bloomers and dresses of the Victoria era, through to the first bikini and beyond.
In the beginning.. the 1800s
Swimwear of the 1800’s was definitely not geared for women with comfort in mind. With completed modesty the major focus, swimsuits consisted of long bloomers and full dresses, shoes, stockings, and headwear, designed to conceal the woman’s body completely. Often made from a heavy flannel fabric in order to weigh down and not float to the water’s surface, the swimsuit was very restrictive and uncomfortable.
Women of the Victoria Era often swam in a bathing cartwheeled into the shallows of the beach – allowing them to complete privacy while they cooled off in the water.
Early 1900s Swimwear
As time progressed, swimming became an Olympic sport around the turn of the Century, bringing more streamlined styling. Arms became exposed and hemlines rose to the thigh. Swimsuit Police would patrol the beaches to keep a check on skin exposure and making sure hemlines remained at an acceptable level.
The 1920s brought an element of glamour and sexiness to swimwear, as swimming became a popular activity in Hollywood. Styling was more revealing, and almost always was accessorised with a swimming cap.
1940s & 1950s Swimsuits
In the 1950’s Dupont released the groundbreaking Nylon fabric, allowing a swimsuit that would not only dry quickly but stretch around the curves of the body for a more flattering look.
Women started exploring the idea of the 2-piece around the 1940’s, however, modesty was still well maintained, always covering the tummy button, and only revealing a small amount of skin.
1946 brought the design of the very first modern style bikini designed by Frenchman Louis Réard, and modeled by Micheline Bernardini, a Parisienne nude dancer, as all the runway models of the time refused to wear the exposing style. Brigitte Bardot and other Hollywood actresses contributed to the popularity of the bikini, making it more accepted and popular in society.
Styling and fabrication continued to be explored and developed in the 70’s, with crochet bikinis and playful skimpy styling.
The 80’s brought the high cut legs famous from TV series Baywatch, alongside bright colour combos and fluorescent fabrics.
Early 2000s Swimwear
Nowadays we seem to have turned a full circle as we become increasingly aware of the damage the sun can do to our precious skin and the devastating consequences of skin cancer and melanoma. The long sleeve one-piece has been a wonderful development providing coverage to the arms and full torso, whilst maintaining style and comfort.
Fabrication has also once again evolved so that we can now enjoy swimwear made from recycled materials, such as broken down plastic bottles, or fishing nets saved from our waterways. The soft-touch and durability of these fabrics are amazing, you don’t even notice the difference.
Now, as we enter into a new decade, swimsuits come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate everyone, from the most modest to the skimpiest of styles, there is one out there for us all. It’s amazing to see how far the world of swimwear has come, and know that we at Hokey Pokey are contributing in a positive way towards the swimwear of the future. Watch this space, as we launch our new range of kids and tweens swimwear in 2020, using recycled materials and ethical manufacturing practices. We love our job, and hope you love the product just as much!