This July, flaunt what you got
What: For turning heads while having fun in the sun, there’s nothing that grabs attention like a bikini. A summer staple for millions of women, the bikini’s history reflects fashion, pop culture, and changing social mores. This summer, recognize the bikini as more than just beachwear and celebrate the anniversary of its debut, July 5.
Background: Easier to move and swim in, two-piece bathing suits first hit the market in the 1930s. However, with stomach-covering halter tops and long bottoms, these two-pieces were modest and attracted nowhere near the hype the bikini would. Introduced on July 5, 1946, by French fashion designer Louis Réard, the bikini was daring, risqué, and instantly fashionable. Modeled by Micheline Bernardini, a free-spirited Parisian exotic dancer, Réard courted the press by creating a string bikini that featured tiny newspaper headlines as its pattern. The name was inspired by Bikini Atoll, the Pacific island where the U.S. was testing atomic weapons, combining the paradisiacal beauty of the tropics with the technological advances of the future. Bikinis were a quick hit in Western Europe, though it took until the 1960s for the suits to show up on American beaches. As pop culture turned youthful, with an eye on California and surf culture, the bikini went into high demand. Now, the bikini is synonymous with summer.
Story Pitch: Many companies and organizations can pitch around the anniversary of the first bikini. Retailers and manufacturers can promote their swimsuits, with special attention to the reactions bikinis first received by the public and in the fashion world. While many bikini wearers want to show off some skin, they still need to be protected in the sun. The anniversary is a good opportunity for manufacturers of sun care products, such as sunscreen and sunless tanning lotions, to position their goods as an important accessory to the bikini. Spas, salons and even gyms can all help women feel “bikini ready” for the summer, and are able to promote their services around the day. It’s hard to find an American beach or pool without someone donning a bikini, and this event is a great chance for these recreational spots to attract visitors.
Story Hook: While they’re iconic, purchasing a bikini fills plenty of women with anxiety and dread. How can shoppers find a suit they’re comfortable in? What should they look for to find the right fit? How are retailers making the bikini work for different body types, and what are some trendy options for more modest swimwear? Consider these questions when you’re making your pitch:
- What’s the most popular type of swimsuit for women?
- Do certain materials or garment constructions create a better fit?
- Are bikinis purely a fashion item? Do they work for serious swimmers or athletes like beach volleyball players?
- How are retailers helping women find a suit they can feel confident wearing?
Tips: An expert on fashion, especially from a historical perspective, is a great contact to speak about the changing reactions to the bikini. Additionally, a swimwear designer can talk about what consumers are looking for in a suit. Meanwhile, someone going out to purchase a bikini for the summer might also be a good person to talk to about styles and personal preference.
American Shore & Beach Preservation Association
Council of Fashion Designers of America
International Swimwear/Activewear Market
Vintage Fashion Guild
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
Event Dates from CHASE’S Calendar of Events
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