If, once upon a time, maybe the swimsuit packed in your suitcase was an afterthought – a bikini designed to maximize a tan and a lunchtime swim – it’s fast becoming the event mainstay of your vacation wardrobe this summer. Trendy swimwear is here.
To be clear, this trend isn’t about the 40-length swimsuit type. In the same way that fashion at large shifted to glamorous nighttime looks coming out of the pandemic, swimwear is the latest – perhaps the most unlikely – category to have a moment of maximalism.
Brands like Léa the Label, Maygel Coronel, Norma Kamali or Johanna Ortiz are leading the charge for ruffled suits, unusual cutouts and metallic fabrics. These are designs that would catch your eye in the fast lane of any pool. They are meant to stay dry for Insta shooting.
The swimwear market is growing. It was valued at over $16bn in 2020, with Euromonitor predicting it will hit $21.4bn (£16.6bn) by 2025.
Swimsuits strictly for lounging by the pool, and worn with heels rather than flip flops, have been around for a few years. He features heavily at ITV’s Love Island villa (in June), where contestants rarely enter the pool but spend most of the day in bikinis, and on the Instagram feed of stars like Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion and Emily Ratajkowski. Ruffled and elaborate swimsuits can also be found on the high street, with Zara offering suits with oversized florals that could threaten to slow the wearer’s crawl.
Kelsey Lyle, swimwear buyer for luxury site Moda Operandi, says, “Our client loves minimalist, more detailed swimwear.” Lyle names Johanna Ortiz as “the designer who started the ready-to-wear and swimwear trend… At Moda, we like to call this look ‘barefoot glamour’.”
Marks & Spencer, perhaps more traditionally known for its sensible swimwear, has noticed a trend towards poolside dressing. The brand launched a “one-stop vacation store” in response. “We’ve never been so coordinated,” says Lisa Illis, design manager for womenswear. “[There are] printed bucket hats, bags and sandals that coordinate with our beach swimwear collections. [It’s] an Instagram-worthy head-to-toe look. Luckily, these are swimsuits you can actually swim in, made with chlorine-resistant spandex.
Perhaps the most curious development here is the bridal swimsuit – with Pamela Anderson marrying Tommy Lee on the beach in a white bikini in 1995 as a style reference, taken up by Lily James in the recent Disney+ series Pam & Tommy. According to Daily Women’s Clothingmore than 2.5 million weddings are expected to take place in the United States in 2022 – the most since 1984.
Matchesfashion.com launched its bridal and events edition in January 2020. Head of womenswear Liana Wiggins said UK-based retailer, like Moda Operandi, has seen an increase in swimwear sales. “Many of our clients are planning destination weddings,” she says. “Maygel Coronel’s ruffled one-shoulder swimsuits are statement styles that always feel romantic and the intricate details of Isa Boulder’s woven bikini are truly special – both are perfect for a beach wedding with a pareo or a long flowing skirt.”