Open main menu

Women's beachwear fashion is a modern phenomenon that has been developing in the last two centuries, especially as the railway arrived in Europe and mass tourism became widespread.[1] The beach in particular became a tourist venue for people to relieve stress.[2] This began from the desire to contrast the effects from the rise of large cities and Industrialization. It spread around the world, becoming a cultural phenomenon, and as a result, along with this new outdoor pastime, came the need for a stylish garment for the privileged lady.[3]

This "fashion" is a form of imitation and social equalization,[4] displaying a set of styles and trends in women's clothing and accessories that have been developed together from the mind-set of society.[5] The role of women is a subject of particular attention because of the change of their position in a male-dominated society in which they had to maintain modesty and seriousness in the behaviors of clothing. This begins the steps that led to fill the gap between the roles of men and women in society and its customs in new contexts, such as for leisure and entertainment.[6]


Seaside tourismEdit

Bikini fashion show at World Bodypainting Festival 2014 in Austria

Seaside tourism was born in the middle of the 18th century.[7] Before that period, the coastal landscape was synonymous with danger, where natural disasters occurred. Philosophers thought the sea was a sort of social power that separated people. Also, a lot of Shakespeare's stories about the sea is an emblem of chaotic travels and shipwrecks.[8] In the 16th and 17th centuries, France was the cradle of a revolution. In those years, there was a change in the perspectives concerning the seaside. Starting from poetry, the ocean and the beach did not symbolize something frightful any longer. English doctors suggested to the nobles that going to the sea was therapy against melancholia and was helpful for the spleen. In the middle of the 19th century, Thomas Cook started to organize collective travel for the English nobles in the Mediterranean areas, especially in the French Riviera and Liguria. Between 1860 and 1914, Nice was one of the most famous places for holidays.[9] The beach became a place of human consumption as a way to escape from the city, where the air was polluted and loud. The development of trains facilitated this cultural and commercial process. At the beach, people's bodies were the most potent cultural symbol because bodies represent cultural identities and styles.[10]


The early 1800s was the beginning of a revolution in swimwear when women flocked to the beaches for seaside recreation—typically using knee-length, puffed-sleeved, wool dresses, often black in color, and featuring a sailor collar.[11] This outfit had the goal of covering all of the woman's skin[11] to avoid suntans, since being tan was a sign of belonging to the social class of common laborers.[11] In that period, there were bathing machines,[12] which were little wood houses on wheels hauled by horses, and were usually located along recreational beaches where the water was shallow.[13] Inside these bathing machines, people undressed and were drawn out into deep water in order to let them swim. freely Afterwards, they would come back when their bath was finished, and get dressed again. By the end of the 19th century, there was a need to have swimsuits that were less burdensome. This allowed exposure of the sun and better comfort for the new popular seaside activities.[13] However, at the time, the only game for women at the beach involved jumping through the waves while holding on a rope attached to a buoy, so the development of the bikini became essential to women. The bikini was introduced in 1946, when two French designers, Louis Reard and Jacob Heim, reinvented the female swimsuit by dividing it into two pieces.[14] At the beginning of its invention, it was given the name of 'atome'.[12] Although the bottom of the stomach was still covered, as it is not always today, this was an important transformation because this new form of beachwear was quickly accepted and gave women more physical and metaphorical freedom. In the 1950s, women's curves were emphasized together with vivid colors until the 1970s, when sexual revolution was in full force and was letting people show off their bodies.[12] The cultural parameters were increasingly influenced by the media and being inspired by multiple TV series, such as the famous "Baywatch" show in 1989, where the high-cut leg become popular, modeling a look of sports.[15] Nowadays, fashion continues on this track. The swimwear industry is driven by the influences of ever-changing fashion styles, and the media,[16] such as TV,[17] advertising, and the web.


Thanks to the birth of beachwear fashion, business developed in relation to swimwear.

Occasions of use and materialsEdit

The principal occasion of using beachwear was the maritime holiday, where the most used material in the making of swimwear was the Lycra that was created in 1958. It had the ability to stretch up to 7 times its original size, and then it could return to the original size. In 1974, the Lycra enters into the market of beachwear.[18] This transformation allowed the replacement of swimwear from wet and misshapen clothes to lighter garments. Another occasion refers to the use of beachwear in sport. In 2008, swimwear provided inserts of plastic material with the aim of reducing friction with the water and improving sport performance. An example is "Speedo LZR Racer," a suit with an ultra-light fabric.[19] Fashion shows are another occasion of use where many brands choose to show their swimwear lines. In this case, the beachwear is created to attract attention. An example is the brand Victoria's Secret, who devotes entire shows to its swimwear line.

Main competitorsEdit

There are different companies and brands (online and offline) that produce beachwear in order to satisfy the market demand. Some examples are: Arena (swimwear), Bikinicolors, Bikinilovers, Calzedonia, Golden Point, Just Cavalli Beachwear, La Perla, Lovable, Parah, Pin-Up Stars, Speedo, Triumph, and Yamamay.[20]

Industry innovationsEdit

Thanks to the development of science, society, and new technologies, there are innovations. The first concerns the birth of burkinis, created for Muslim women. This is similar to a diving suit made more feminine, so that these women can swim in comfortable clothes that respect their religious faith. Another innovation concerns ecological beach bags that are created using recycled sails.[21] Even thongs present innovations: from Indonesia comes the Paperflop,[22] the first thong made of recyclable and Eco-sustainable materials. Their bottom is made from recycled newspapers and other Eco-friendly materials, such as palm roots and husks of coconuts. As for the bikini, the Canadian Franky Shaw has developed a hydrophobic material that repels water. Something different is the Sponge Suit,[23] which is designed in California, and is a bikini made with a material that absorbs pollutants: people will use it up to twenty-five times, and then it can be recycled. The cost is low and safe for those who use it—plus, it is Eco-friendly.

Beachwear and social networkEdit

Nowadays, it is important for companies or people with private businesses to sell their products on social platforms.[24] In the past, the means of communication were magazines or TV, but now users prefer to use social network because it is faster and easier with the invention of smartphones and tablets. In fact, those who have at least one profile on one of these platforms are always increasing day by day.[25] That is why it is essential for them to use social networks as selling platforms—to not only sell their products, but also to create a relationship with the users with active participation. This happens in all the market sectors. Now there are not only pages or profiles of beachwear companies, in which the buyer can compare the price, quality, material, and feedback,[26] but also private sellers can focus directly on social platforms. In this case, users can purchase with a single click or comment. In brief, social networks simplify the sale and purchase markets in all sectors.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Valerie Cumming; C. W. Cunnington; P. E. Cunnington. The Dictionary of Fashion History. p. 5. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  2. ^ di Ana Swanson. "Come sono nate le vacanze al mare?". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  3. ^ Theodoulou, Mike. ""Touring beyond the Nation: A Transnational Approach to European Tourism History" by Webster, Craig - European Journal of Tourism Research, Vol. 4, Issue 2, July 1, 2011 | Online Research Library". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  4. ^ Georg Simmel (May 1957). "Fashion" (PDF). American Journal of Sociology. 6. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  5. ^ Valerie Cumming; C. W. Cunnington; P. E. Cunnington. The Dictionary of Fashion History. p. 5. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  6. ^ "Internet History Sourcebooks". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  7. ^ Alain Corbin, The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840, Berkley, University of California Press.
  8. ^ Daniela Blei (2016-06-23). "Inventing the Beach: The Unnatural History of a Natural Place | History | Smithsonian". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  9. ^ Emma Salizzoni, Turismo lungo le aree costiere euro mediterranee: dalla scoperta, al consumo, al progetto del paesaggio, Firenze University Press, January - June 2012.
  10. ^ Douglas Booth, Australian Beach Cultures: The History of Sun, Sand and Surf, Psychology Press, 2001.
  11. ^ a b c Douglas MacGowan (2015-07-06). "A brief and revealing history of the swimsuit | MNN - Mother Nature Network". MNN. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  12. ^ a b c Marlen Komar (2016-02-14). "The Evolution Of The Bathing Suit From The 1800s Until Today Proves One Very Important Thing". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  13. ^ a b Pauline Thomas. "Swimwear in the Early Days - Fashion History Pictures". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  14. ^ "Bikini introduced - Jul 05, 1946". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  15. ^ "Costumi da bagno, 100 anni di storia in 3 minuti - Video - Perizona Magazine". 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  16. ^ "Notizie sull'industria della moda italiana". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  17. ^ Francesco Tortora  (2016-07-20). "Da Cameron Diaz a Scarlett Johansson: i costumi da bagno più celebri nel cinema". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  18. ^ "Che cos'è LYCRA?" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  19. ^ "Doping tecnologico: i costumi in poliuretano". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  20. ^ "Lista delle migliori griffe di costumi bagno da donna". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  21. ^ "Borse ecologiche uniche fatte di vele riciclate". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  22. ^ "Paperflop: dall'Indonesia la ciabatta ecologica fatta con giornali riciclati – Frontiere". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  23. ^ Andrea Indiano (2017-02-24). "Un bikini-spugna ripulisce il mare dall'inquinamento - Corriere Innovazione". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  24. ^ Francesco Di Maso. "Social network per un negozio di abbigliamento". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  25. ^ a b "L'importanza dei social network per le aziende | Web Marketing per Hotel". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  26. ^ "Social Network in azienda | Impresa in azione". Retrieved 2017-03-01.


  • Alain Corbin, The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840, Berkley, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0140247992
  • Douglas Booth, Australian Beach Cultures: The History of Sun, Sand and Surf, Psychology Press, 2001, ISBN 9780714651675
  • Emma Salizzoni, Turismo lungo le aree costiere euro mediterranee: dalla scoperta, al consumo, al progetto del paesaggio, Firenze University Press, January - June 2012